I recently wrote a short piece by request of my local museum about an object in their collections. I selected a stone lamp of the type I had written about in my book Entangled: People and Ecological Change in Alaska’s Kachemak Bay. I received several responses after the article was posted to the Museum’s Facebook page that what I had written was offensive and disrespectful to Indigenous people for whom the lamp has cultural significance and is part of their heritage.
An Indigenous person requested that I make a public apology. My initial attempt to do so was received as a defensive statement by this person and by a group of writers who participate in a Facebook Binders group of creative writers. I learned a lot about how what I had written, and failed to write about, caused people hurt and harm.
Here’s the link to what I wrote next which is published on Medium: Writing about Other Cultures: In apology and gratitude.
As I mentioned in the article, I consider my education and avoidance of further hurt and offense through my writing to be a work in progress along with my participation in ending colonial and racist legacies.