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  1. After much thought, I've decided to make this post because I'd like designers and creators to understand something, and I hope this is the right forum. I'm an indigenous - Māori - person from Aotearoa, New Zealand, and I've been playing SL off and on since 2007. I've noticed an incredible flooding on marketplace and tattoo shops in SL of fake and authentic inspired tattoos in the stores - many of them labelled as "Maori". First of all, do people understand what "Māori" means? Māori is a term in our language meaning: "natural, normal or common," and it wasn't used until the Europeans colonized our country. We didn't have a word that existed to describe ourselves as a race of people, as we defined ourselves by hapū - tribal and sub-tribal groupings. It would be a good idea to know what the word means before you sell your products in your shops. XD. Which brings me to my next point, and I hope people can understand where I am coming from: our traditions, cultural norms, and language - much like indigenous everywhere - are under pressure right now, partly due to ignorance, and partly due to capitalism and globalism. Our tā moko - tattooing and scarification traditions - attracts enormous interest and enthusiasts all over the world, as do our haka, performing arts, language and spiritual concepts. Tā moko is a gift passed to us from our ancestors. They are not just cool designs on the face and body - they connect to genealogy, knowledge, land, tribe - even an individual's achievements was recorded on his face. The practice nearly died out during the 19th century due to colonization and warring with the British to defend our lands and people. It was a terrible time, and we lost many of our leaders, prophets, and experts. I won't go into the whole history here, this can be searched online, but what it means is that the practice of tā moko is a sacred (tapu) practice for the Māori people because it not only speaks to where and who we are, but also that we have survived numerous efforts to kills us off by our colonizers. We were nearly wiped out at one stage, but now we have come back fiercely, and our population is steadily growing. The Māori people love the interest and respect shown by people towards our culture, but what isn't cool is appropriation. Appropriation hurts us in the modern age, and it helps to seed ignorance, and it maintains imperialism. Ripping a tattoo off google or a history book and making a tattoo from it in PS, and then selling it in your stores isn't cool. Do a search on MP, most of those tattoos are not even our designs, but people have just casually called them: "Maori". If they are not our designs, then whose designs are they? Who's culture do you cancel out by not doing your research? What about the original artists? You are making a profit off this, but do you give back to those communities from which you source your designs? What's your responsibility as a virtual designer and creator? Millions have passed through SL, economically that signals a lot of dosh for a popular store. Every tā moko that is actually Māori has been designed for a specific individual - they are like resumes or "body/facial history's" that's been designed for that one individual, and no other. So if you do manage to source an authentic tattoo, and you upload it to SL and sell it - you're stealing and commercializing somebody's entire history and genealogy! It's like me taking your identity and family photos and selling it all off to the world! You might think that this is just a game, and it hurts nobody, and it's just a bit of harmless fun, but even in the virtual world, there are real-life impacts, and this is one of them. The Māori people are a real culture that exists in the real world. Currently, there are law suits pending in several countries over intellectual property violations. My people are attempting to correct misrepresentations of our culture and history - all written by our colonizers up to the 1980s - and we face an uphill battle. Game designers have been appropriating our culture for a while now - the Sims, Apex Legends, Bleeding Edge, Far Cry 3, etc - all do it. Māori are not vampires or elves existing in a fantasy land - we're real indigenous people who have meaningful lives, and yes, we play Second Life too. Our culture makes money - this is widely recognized in Aotearoa as we continue the struggle to have our lands returned and sovereignty recognized - and sadly, not much of it comes back to our people, some of whom have lost their lands as well as their entire families, and are poor indeed. We have the same struggle internationally with companies who use our language, imagery and cultural concepts to sell their alcohol, cigarettes, cars, music, games, spiritual self-help techniques etc, and it's NOT okay. So in conclusion, I'd like to put the karanga (call) out there to creators who support self-agency for indigenous people, and who are respectful of culture: 1) Please research the tattoo you are selling in your store. First of all, have you attributed it to the correct culture? I can tell at a glance if a tattoo belongs to our artists or not - and btw, our artists train for years to be able to gift their skills to the receiver, so it's a damn insult to have their designs ripped off in SL or any virtual world. 2) Please cease the practice of ripping off designs off Google. 3) As a consumer, please pause and think BEFORE you buy that cool tattoo inworld. Do you want to facilitate the destruction of a culture? That's what you're doing if you buy that cool tattoo. 4) If you upload a tattoo for personal use for your avatar, and not for sale, can you speak to it with knowledge? If you meet me inworld, I will put you through your paces, LOL! Be aware, hahah. I've been sending tattoo artists inworld little messages since I began playing and noticing the big business models inworld. Some people get angry and block me from their store and profiles, some are apologetic, and some I never get an answer from. I don't harrass people, but I'll speak to them once about it, and from there it's up to them what they do. I can't stop anybody from doing anything - but I'm hoping that my points I've raised today will open a dialogue, and facilitate understanding, because this isn't just happening for the Māori people - it's an issue for indigenous and poc all over the world. Ngā mihi nui mō tō rongo kī taku pānui. Kia ora rā. (Thank you for listening to my message. Be well, all).
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