My friend The Druid of Fisher Street just posted a great blog on the great topic of land spirits. I began my response in his comments block but decided I needed more room. It began like this:
Great topic, great post!
I have had these same thoughts. Having a background in Native American traditions has greatly influenced my American Pagan path, without the cultural appropriation.
When I was in Oklahoma I found my spot to commune with the local land spirits, which turned out to be an old Native hot spot, and I took it as confirmation.
When I moved to the Central Valley, again the first thing I did was put up the antennas and scan for a place, which lead me the Three Rivers, another native hot spot. Later I found the area riddled with mortar holes of the Potwisha Indians, which I now use as prayer bowls where I leave my offerings (hence the card selection).
I personally appreciate your concern for cultural appropriation issues, as I am sure the natives do. But there is a difference between *cultural" appropriation and inspiration. It is no coincidence that I/we have been dawn to the same areas as the first nations. As Pagans we seek to develop and maintain a connection with the land and our attunement naturally draws us like magnets to those same areas, for the same reasons. I often explain Paganism to the muggle/cowan folk as "Indian stiff for white people" or the return to Indigenous European Traditions, and this is a perfect example of why.
I have come to identify land spirits as Genius Loci which fits quite nicely within my tradition and practice. And again no coincidence, that I was just reading a great article by Lupa (luv her) on the topic in Llewellyn's 2011 Magical Almanac, titled Connecting to the Land: Modern Paganism, Bioregionalism, and the Genius Loci. (if you go to the link, you can read the article on page 26!)
Thank you Lord and Lady for great minds thinking alike.