Colonialism in Wizarding America: J. K. Rowling’s History of Magic in North America through an Indigenous Lens

Allison Mills


In March 2016, J. K. Rowling launched four new short stories entitled The History of Magic in North America. It is safe to say that Rowling did not anticipate the reactions from Indigenous critics that these stories incited. In what was probably a well-intentioned attempt at inclusivity, Rowling’s stories reference “the Native American community” (“Fourteenth Century”) and their place in the world of Harry Potter. In doing so, she stepped on a land mine. Magic in North America’s treatment of North American Indigenous communities is, at best, misguided, and at worst stereotypical and appropriative.

Although Indigenous fans, critics and their allies spent much of the month following the release of these stories tweeting Rowling, as of this article going to press in July 2016, she has yet to respond in detail to the criticism she has faced, and the articles are still available at Pottermore. Although Rowling is certainly not the first white author to misstep in her treatment of Indigenous cultures, she has an unprecedented level of visibility and fame, as well as a passionate fanbase—one which includes many Indigenous children and adults. The wide reach that her work has makes it especially problematic, and Rowling’s lack of response to the criticism she has faced is disheartening, especially in light of the launch of racial micro-aggressions now faced by Indigenous Harry Potter fans who want to speak out regarding the treatment of Indigenous cultures in Magic in North America.

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

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