New video project creates shared definitions of common DEAI words through storytelling

February 22, 2024 | Burke Museum

On Our Terms is a video series by the Burke Museum that seeks to create shared definitions of commonly used diversity, equity, access, and inclusion terms like decolonization, consultation, and healing. Twelve Burke staff and broader community members were interviewed about the meaning of 10 different words or concepts (e.g., What does it look like to create a truly reciprocal relationship? How has cultural erasure impacted your life?).

On Our Terms was released on February 21, 2024 and the full project can be found here.

Co-creators Aaron McCanna (Yup’ik), Decolonization Manager, and Timothy Kenney, Assistant Digital Communications Manager, aim to provide another way to engage with these concepts through stories and personal experiences.  

“There is no shortage of academic writing on these subjects, but I personally just don’t learn that way,” Kenney said. “Through stories I heard from Burke staff and the many community members that visit the museum, I learned more in six months than I had in my entire life. That got me thinking, ‘How could we create a way for everyone to engage with this kind of learning?’” 

Words like diversity and decolonization regularly show up in mission statements and speeches, but it can be hard to parse the meaning or intention behind them. These words can have wildly different meanings to people based on their lived experiences, so understanding that nuance is important when trying to implement change at an institution like a museum. 

As the Burke continues to reconcile its own colonial legacy, Kenney and McCanna wanted to turn to the museum’s larger community to better understand what these words mean and how the Burke can be responsive to the community’s needs. The hope is that this project is useful to the hundreds of museums around the world engaging in this kind of work.  

“The people we interviewed all brought something unique to this project that challenged and inspired the way I understand my work, my positionality, and even myself,” McCanna said. “The diversity of ideas that our interviewees brought is remarkable and I truly believe there is something for everyone in these conversations.” 

On Our Terms will be released for free on the Burke Museum website on February 21 and will include other resources to help people reflect on and discuss what they have learned from the videos. A public screening of the videos will take place on March 29, 2024, at the museum.