Right now is a transitional point for the United States government and people to acknowledge and educate themselves on the racist and colonialist history that has been prevalent in not only our own founding, but most of the world.

Decolonize Poster by Vic de Aranzeta

1. Read

Read everything you can, articles, blogs, archives, books, newsletters, social media posts — too often in anthropology I heard that stories, ethnographies and accounts were not reliable ‘data’ and were biased when written from someone within the culture. An outsiders perspective on a culture being the only accurate version is dangerous and outdated and leaves it open to ethnocentrism and bad interpretation. Peoples stories, experiences and emotions matter, and they should not be discounted or ignored because they are written from a personal, insiders perspective.

Decolonizing Museums

Representing Native America in National and Tribal Museums by Amy Lonetree

2. Listen

Listening is a tool that every person has, but not everyone utilizes. We need to listen to and learn from stories told and written by people of color. Historically, stories about people of color have long been written and recorded through an ethnocentric, biased and racist lens.

Real Black Grandmothers

Native Stories

Unreserved

Live Oak Museum Consulting

LOMC is an Indigenous owned museum consulting company that focuses on educating staff and patrons of museums, as well as impacting change at the policy level in regards to display of Native objects and representing Native life and culture. They focus on gathering stories of Native community members to share authentic stories of existence and experiences rather than have stagnant writing that makes Native peoples seem stuck in time, this is what we often see in museums and it needs to change. Museums are a way to educate on the past, but also the present and can change how we enter the future — that’s why it is crucial to get it right and collaborate and partner with Indigenous communities to have them tell their story to avoid colonialist or outdated views or ethnographies from an outsiders biased point of view.

3. Learn From Your Mistakes

We all make mistakes, every day- they should not be seen as a failure but as a learning opportunity. Sometimes we don’t know all the answers or right things to say — this gives us a chance to take a step back and reassess what we know and don’t know. This is decolonization in action, the questioning of what we know, why we think that and what are other perspectives around that. We have the ability and resources to educate ourselves and ask critical questions, to assess what we’ve learned, who taught it to us, and for whom that was told by and for. It’s our individual responsibility to take the time and do the hard work to become a better human, friend, and ally.

Cultural Anthropologist, Art Director, Copywriter