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Decolonizing Museums: Current Initiatives in California Museums and Cultural Centers

  • Wednesday, March 31, 2021
  • 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
  • Virtual via Zoom
  • 0

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View the recording of "Decolonizing Museums" on YouTube.

What does decolonization look like in museums? How is this work being done today, especially in a virtual sphere? Join Cultural Connections for an engaging moderated panel about current decolonizing initiatives in museums and cultural centers across California. Our speakers include Brandie MacDonald, Director of Decolonizing Initiatives at the San Diego Museum of Us, Joe D. Horse Capture, Vice President of Native Collections and Curator at the Autry Museum of the American West, and Sharaya Souza, Executive Director of the American Indian Cultural District in San Francisco.

Panelist Information:

Brandie Macdonald (Chickasaw/Choctaw; she/her) is the Director of Decolonizing Initiatives at the Museum of Us (formerly the San Diego Museum of Man) that resides on the ancestral homeland of Kumeyaay peoples. Brandie's work focuses on the application of anti-colonial/decolonial theory and methodology in museums, centering truth-telling, accountability, and systemic reform which works to redress colonial legacy, structural racism, and inequity. Brandie holds a B.A. in Applied Anthropology from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, a M.Ed. in International Higher Education from Loyola University, Chicago, and is a Ph.D. student in Education Studies at University of California, San Diego. She is a Salzburg Global Seminar Fellow, American Alliance of Museums’ (AAM) Nancy Hanks Award for Professional Excellent recipient, an AAM Diversity Fellow, Smithsonian Affiliate Fellow at the National Museum of the American Indian, and she currently sits on the board of the Western Museums association.


Joe D. Horse Capture is an enrolled member of the A’aninin tribe of Montana. He has more than 20 years of museum experience and served as the first Director of Native American Initiatives at the Minnesota Historical Society, where he developed and implemented a vision and strategy for American Indian programs and services in collaboration with American Indian communities in Minnesota and beyond. He joined the Autry Museum in late 2019. Prior to his position at the Minnesota Historical Society, Horse Capture was a curator for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and served for 15 years as a curator of Native American arts at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Through his work history, he has built strong working relationships with many tribal nations. Horse Capture graduated from Montana State University-Bozeman with a BA in History.


Sharaya Souza (Taos Pueblo, Ute, Kiowa) helped lead the American Indian Cultural District initiative by drafting the legislation, working with the local American Indian community to identify a culturally significant geographic boundary, securing funding, and leading Cultural District negotiations with local District Supervisors and stakeholders.

Sharaya is an ambassador for promoting equitable resource distribution to Native American communities, increasing Native visibility and political representation, and protecting and preserving tribal cultural resources in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to active participation with local Native American organizations, Sharaya serves on several local City boards and groups including the Housing Policy Group, Race & Equity in All Planning Coalition, Racial Equity Arts Working Group, Inter-Tribal Community Coalition, Economic Recovery Task Force, the Human Rights Commission Community Roundtable, and the SF Community Climate Council.

Sharaya's previous experience includes the American Indian Cultural Center, Twitter, California Native American Heritage Commission, the California Research Bureau, Office of Institutional Research, American Indian Recruitment and Retention, and working with Governor Brown’s Tribal Advisor and the Executive Tribal Advisor at the California Department of Water Resources. Her work in these areas included establishing the Native voice in tech, providing research and recommendations in education and policy, Native youth retention, sacred site and tribal cultural resource protection, government-to-government tribal consultation, land use mediation, helping tribal groups gain recognition as non-federally recognized tribes, and the designation of Most Likely Descendants for Native American human remains.



Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the museum field, we are offering this program free of charge to everyone, and asking participants to pay what they can. Cultural Connections is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit run by an all-volunteer board, and the funds earned through membership and program admission directly support professional development programs and resources for our colleagues throughout the Bay Area. Thank you for supporting Cultural Connections!

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