CANCELLED: Spiritual Spring Cleaning Workshop
Out of respect for the Tongva, traditional caretakers of the land that the Fowler Museum occupies, and other Southern California Native communities, we have cancelled the “Spiritual Spring Cleaning Workshop” event planned for Wednesday, June 2nd.
In planning this event, the Fowler partnered with a non-Indigenous entity that sells sage, abalone, and other sacred medicines without fully understanding the implications of doing so. Furthermore, as part of the promotion for this event, the Fowler shared an image that included a sage bundle and an abalone shell. These are sacred materials that represent components of a closed ritual practice and were not ours to work with or share. With these actions, we harmed members of the Tongva community, members of our staff, and the broader Indigenous communities with whom we hope to be in good relations. We regret these actions and meant no disrespect to the Tongva community. We are deeply sorry.
We understand that within Tovaangar, white sage is medicine and is not to be bought or sold. The same is true for other plants across Turtle Island (North America), like yerba santa and sweetgrass. Abalone shell also holds an important place within Tongva and other Southern California Native traditions. It is used for utilitarian purposes, and it is also an integral part of Tongva spiritual practices. Abalone harvesting is illegal in California until April 2026, a direct result of overharvesting by non-Natives. The Southern California Native community has struggled against the commercialization, colonialization, and commodification of plants, animals, and practices as non-natives illegally overharvest sacred sage sites and abalone for economic gain.
We are grateful for the feedback we have received. We will work with members of the Tongva community to find ways to repair the damage we have inflicted. We will consult with Indigenous staff members on Indigenous issues. We also encourage everyone to learn more about these issues at the link below, and for our colleagues at other educational and cultural institutions to do the same.
Learn more at deborahsmall.wordpress.com/2020/07/30/saging-the-world.