The Chí’chil Biłdagoteel Historic District, also known as Oak Flat, in Arizona, USA is a sacred site of immense cultural importance to numerous Native Nations who -- over millennia -- have used the area for their traditional ceremonies and medicine gathering. Despite this overwhelming significance to them, it's under threat from being completely destroyed by mining giant, Rio Tinto.
Culture is not an aesthetic, it isn't a theme or a vibe, it's not a costume or a trend. Culture is about heritage, pride, survival, resiliency, life-affirming connections -- and it's hugely significant. It's rich, vibrant, and nurtures vital lifeways. Culture is simultaneously the preservation and celebration of the past, the present and the future. It's not, and never should be, something that's picked apart, stripped of all its meaning, homogenized and sanitized to be used by those it does not represent.
If you live on colonized land, such as the United States, how much do you know about the Indigenous People who are its original custodians? Do you know which tribes and nations resided in your specific area before forced removal? Do you know where they are now? I would take a guess that maybe a lot of you don’t, and that’s something we should all work on to rectify.