JK Rowling's First Two Magic In North America Pieces Explain Salem Witch Trials, Upset Native Americans

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Two days ago, we wrote that JK Rowling would be publishing a short series of pieces delineating the history of magic in North America. The first two of the eventual four pieces are up on the website Pottermore, and thus far, we’ve learned a number of things about wizardry in the eventual United States.

In yesterday’s work, Rowling explained some differences between Native American magic and European magic, noting that the wand was a European innovation. Her treatment of North America’s indigenous people has drawn heavy accusations of cultural appropriation from a number of quarters, particularly for her explanation of the Navajo “skin walker” myth as the work of Animagi and her depiction of Native Americans in their stereotypical role as mystical shamans.

Today, Rowling expounded upon the Salem Witch Trials and the legacy they left upon the relationship between magical and non-magical people in North America. She describes the Puritan immigration as having created a very hostile environment for wizards and witches that, when combined with and abetted by the malevolence of magical mercenaries called “Scourers,” led to the infamous string of executions in 1692. The aftermath resulted in a great number of wizards and witches fleeing America, and those who remained forming the Magical Congress of the United States, and a great concentration of both No-Maj-borns and prejudice against magic as a whole.

We’re a little skeptical of a few things, notably the use of the term “United States” before 1700. But we’re interested to see how the rest of this background unfolds, and to see if Rowling treats such important American events as the Revolutionary and Civil Wars in the coming pieces.

Check out the series to date on Pottermore.