Skip to main content

J.K. Rowling On Native American Wizards - Called Skin Walkers on Pottermore Website

J.K. Rowling's Native American Wizards are Skin Talkers...

Lovers of Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling’s works can see Native American ‘Skin Walkers’ written about in her newest installment of wizarding history on the Pottermore website entitled, “History of Magic in North America.” But not everyone is happy about it.

The reviews on social media have been in violent opposition as many assert Rowling has no right to appropriate Native American culture, while others state this is just another mystical installment of Rowling’s fantasy writings.

Rendering of a 'Skin Talker' on the Pottermore website.

From the Pottermore website:

The Native American magical community and those of Europe and Africa had known about each other long before the immigration of European No-Majs in the seventeenth century. They were already aware of the many similarities between their communities. Certain families were clearly ‘magical’, and magic also appeared unexpectedly in families where hitherto there had been no known witch or wizard. The overall ratio of wizards to non-wizards seemed consistent across populations, as did the attitudes of No-Majs, wherever they were born.

Rowling also says that in Native American communities, some witches and wizards were accepted and even lauded within their tribes, and gained reputations for healing as medicine men, or outstanding hunters. 

Rowling describes the legend of the Native American ‘skin walker’ – as an evil witch or wizard that can transform into an animal at will – which grew up around the Native American Animagi, that had sacrificed close family members to gain their powers of transformation.

She refutes the false claims of the legend and writes:

[T]he majority of Animagi assumed animal forms to escape persecution or to hunt for the tribe. Such derogatory rumours often originated with No-Maj medicine men, who were sometimes faking magical powers themselves, and fearful of exposure.

The Native American wizarding community was particularly gifted in animal and plant magic, its potions in particular being of a sophistication beyond much that was known in Europe. The most glaring difference between magic practised by Native Americans and the wizards of Europe was the absence of a wand.

One Native voice on social media that has received considerable media exposure has been Dr. Adrienne Keene.

On the Refinery 29 website Keene says: "But we’re not magical creatures, we’re contemporary peoples who are still here, and still practice our spiritual traditions," Keene writes. "Traditions that are not akin to a completely imaginary wizarding world (as badass as that wizarding world is)."

Buzzfeed has also caught wind of the angry Native voices and posted them.

J.K. Rowling’s representatives declined ICTMN’s requests for comments. 

Follow ICTMN's Arts and Entertainment Editor and Contributor Vincent Schilling on Twitter @VinceSchilling