Equity & Justice Initiatives

The Center for Design and Material Culture is proud to participate in Human Ecology’s Equity & Justice Network. The E&J Network supports the continued evolution of our school into a community wherein people with diverse backgrounds find success, share knowledge, and work together to advance equity and justice.

Community Leader-in-Residence Program

How can we work to stop accepting cultural appropriation and rather encourage cultural appreciation? What are ways in which artists and designers can learn with and through Indigenous objects, like those in the 13,000-object Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection (HLATC), while honoring the peoples, histories, and knowledge systems that created those things and continue to give them meaning? Artist nibiiwakamigkwe has joined the CDMC through a grant from the Equity & Justice Network Community Leader-in-Residence Program to collaborate and think through these questions, with the goal of developing a scalable and adaptable toolkit and curriculum around cultural appropriation. The goal of this partnership is to help students, community members, and industry partners understand the stakes of cultural appropriation for Indigenous communities and develop questions and approaches they can use when engaging with a wide range of cultural objects in an ethical and respectful way.

nibiiwakamigkwe is a Two-Spirit Métis, Onyota’a:ka (Oneida), Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), Cuban and waabishkiiwed artist working in traditional Indigenous craftwork and contemporary Woodlands style. Their work fosters awareness of land protection, Indigenous cultural landscapes, and the complexity of identity and the impact of cultural appropriation. Their multidisciplinary practice incorporates song, textiles, dance, storytelling, and visual symbols, relying on their cultural teachings and experience. They currently co-own and operate giige, an Indigenous and Queer art and tattoo space, in Teejop/Madison, Wisconsin.