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New program supports preservation of ancestral knowledge

The new fellowship financially supports four Culture Bearers who practice sacred and healing lifeways and share cultural art practices across generations.

This year’s recipients are Amoke Kubat, James Simas, Kathryn Haddad and Suzanne Thao.

Community organizer and artist Aiyana Sol Machado said culture bearers are critical to the preservation and continuance of cultural knowledge. She sees this work as healing liberation.

“We know that we have to look back to inform our future, our history,” said Sol Machado.

“Our ancestors are with us. They're having our back, and we need to be able to look back simultaneously and move forward and some of us have access to that look back, if you will, more than others. How can we create more access for this next generation.”

Sol Machado stresses that many youth born here need to know that their history didn't begin with chains or colonization. This work teaches them how to tap into that part of the healing journey.

Co-founder and director of Indigenous Roots Mary Anne Quiroz says the fellowship is about honoring community elders.

“One of the elders said ‘it's not about the money, it's about the recognition - people actually know that this work even exists outside of my native community,’” Quiroz said.

“This isn't to produce new works.This isn’t to come up with a project. This funding is literally to just honor them and the work that they have been doing forever.”

Fellows receive public recognition and a $25,000 unrestricted award in support of their cultural practice. Additionally, fellows receive access to Indigenous Roots facilities and resources.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, BLCK Press and Indigenous Roots are partner organizations.

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