Statement on Cultural Appropriation
An Open Apology
We have been aware for some time that a handful of our designs were appropriated from different Native cultures in North America. Some of you have even reached out to us, graciously calling us in to consider these designs. The appropriation has not sat right in our hearts.
As the social landscape around us has shifted, we have grown as a company and as individuals. We are learning from the great movements of our time and thinking critically about our past misdeeds and the way they have knowingly and unknowingly had effects on Indigenous Populations. We wanted to do the right thing and address our cultural appropriation, but were unsure how to properly do so. It was important to us that we were impactful, educated, and hopeful that in addressing the appropriation, we may be able to help inform others with what we’ve learned.
In late 2021 Coral & Tusk founder, Stephanie Housley, was inspired by another company reckoning with past cultural appropriation and the reconciliation efforts that followed their public admission. Being made aware of this work helped us at Coral & Tusk to do our part in correcting our own social wrongs.
We learned how the ramifications of our appropriation are detrimental to the culture from which they have been appropriated, and how incredibly offensive appropriation is. We learned together how these designs take away from Native artists and their community economies. We learned to take responsibility for our actions. This has moved us to work towards reconciliation.
Which leads us to now. Our past appropriations were hurtful and wrong. We at Coral & Tusk are truly sorry for any harm caused by these designs and we stand and acknowledge our benefit and privilege in using them without asking, or without proper credit. We made place-based charitable donations to organizations connected to appropriated designs outlined specifically in the following pieces. Moving forward we are committed to giving back to Native communities annually through charitable contributions, sharing tools, references and resources on our platforms. Our action plan is a work in progress, and we certainly look forward to sharing more as it solidifies for the years ahead. We hope this effort serves to educate others and be a guide for those who also want to reconcile similar wrongs.
Arriving at this place of understanding as people, and a company, has been challenging but we are committed to reconciliation and are excited for this new chapter. We hope that you will join us in our efforts and consider the information that we will continually be sharing on our website and social platforms regarding cultural appropriation and the actions we are taking as we move through this process.
Here is what we are currently doing to hold ourselves accountable:
- We donated a total of $35,000 in 2021 to 3 individual Native led organizations for place-based reconciliation efforts because of directly appropriated designs.
- $28,000 to NDN Collective
- $5,000 to People's Partner for Community Development
- $2,000 to Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska
- We also made a donation of $5,000 as the base of a scholarship at the Wyoming Arts council. This scholarship will be awarded annually to a Native individual. Because we are keeping one appropriated item in the line, our Quill design, we are acknowledging the source of inspiration by committing a donation of $1,000 a year to the Native Art Fellowship through 2027, or until the Quill design is retired and no longer available for sale. Read more about our Quill design here.
- We are committed to educating ourselves as individuals and collectively as a team
- We will continue to consult with Adrienne Benjamin on upcoming efforts
- We are giving our employees paid days of service annually as part of our company policy
- We will match employee donations to Native led organizations annually up to $10,000
- We will explore collaborations with Native artists
- We ensure that part of our annual giving will always be allocated to Native led organizations moving forward.
This work would not have been possible without Adrienne Benjamin who guided us through this process as our Reconciliation Consultant. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to work with Adrienne and thank her for her time, knowledge and generosity.
Adrienne M. Benjamin (She/Her/Hers) is an Anishinaabe multi-faceted artist practicing in multiple disciplines, an accomplished arts administrator, and reconciliation consultant. She is passionate about and vibrantly advocates for social justice and equity initiatives in the arts and education systems.
You can find more of Adrienne's work at yoadrienneb.net and on Instagram @yoadrienneb1983
More information about our designs and donations:
shares her journey to reconciliation as a designer and founder.
"The moment I was truly honest with myself, after learning the countless horrific facts and crimes committed against Native Americans for hundreds of years, I understood the necessary role that acknowledgment plays and what we each can, and should, do. Acknowledging our offense of cultural appropriation is one miniscule effort we are making here as a company. In each of our lives, we are finding how imperative education is as part of the process of reconciliation."
on why reconciliation matters.
"My work has specifically focused on equity for Indigenous Native American people. In my own local community, I have worked to educate on our shared local histories, about Indigenous lifeways, and about the trauma that occurred during the colonization process which others only know as the building of this country. There were so many heinous government policies, forced removals from homelands, food source slaughters, and unprovoked wars that Indigenous people endured during the 'founding of the United States.'"
Heather Dawn Thompson: Surviving an invasion and understanding your neighbors.
Matika Wilbur: Changing the way we see Native Americans.
Sean Sherman: Why aren't there more Native American Restaurants?
Gregg Deal: Indigenous in plain sight.
Tara Houska: Standing Rock and our Fight for Indigenous Rights.
Cultural Appropriation’s Negative Impact on North American Indigenous People’s with Korina Emmerich, Chris Allaire, Jamie Okuma, Tania Larsson, and Dr.Adrienne Keene.
Podcast: This Land
Studio ATAO: Understanding…Cultural Appropriation
Gaby Strong: Building Indigenous Power in Philanthropy
Nikki Pieratos & Chrystel Cornelius: Bridging the Divide Between Impact Investing and Native America
Vance Blackfox & Supriya Kumar: New Website and Report Increase Hope for Philanthropic Investment in Native Communities
Investing in Native Communities: Philanthropic Funding for Native American Communities and Causes
Katja Vujić: How to Support Indigenous Communities
Investing in Native Communities: Native-Led Grantmakers and Funds
Beyond Buckskin: Buy Native List