Beyond DEI

Why: Social Change and Transformation 

As American organizations retool for the 21st century, most are engaged in some level of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access work. While we believe this is an important development and sorely needed, we wonder, how effective is this work if it ignores the foundational worldview or operating system underpinning all of what we do? Is it not superficial to address foundational thinking at the core of organizational structures, policies, and procedures?

Our belief is that unless organizations are willing to recognize a system built on divisive, exclusionary values and practices, core operations will remain firmly in place and the problems they seek to address will continue—beyond the expense and effort of DEI work.

Our work suggests that deep and humble exploration of colonization and settler colonial practices are needed for lasting change to occur. Ultimately, engagement with the people of the land on which the institution was built and the incorporation of values indigenous and inherent to North America are key to lasting, positive, institutional change.

Addressing the Need: Development of On-line Tools and Curriculum

In an effort to make this information available to everyone through the creation of a set of online, accessible tools for organizations as well as individuals, we will use a Native values-based approach to address and move through the obstacles museums face as:

  • Stewards of Native materials
  • Representing the legacy of historic wounds; while
  • Trying to engage with Native communities who may have been alienated, even traumatized by the institution itself.  

Decolonization centered work is at the heart of many of the initiatives underway, but there are very few who are addressing the issue directly. We are confident that with these tools we will be filling a need that is long overdue. While the institutional and personal work needed for lasting change cannot all be done in an online course, the tools provided will be comprehensive and foundational to further initiatives that seek to broaden inclusion and access and pave the way for true diversity of staff and leadership.

Currently, this foundational work is only available to those that can afford to bring in the Live Oak team. With online tools, small museums on small budgets, tribal organizations, and even individuals interested to begin seeing the impacts of colonialism and how it has disconnected us from each other and our shared world.