Redefining Philanthropy and Indigenous Ways of Knowing: Kris Archie

Photo by Alex Beattie: Port of Friday Harbor, the Coast Salish house posts. The piece is titled "Interaction" and was created by Salish Coast artist Susan Point, a member of the Musqueum Tribe as a symbol of welcome and an acknowledgement of the Native presence in the San Juan.

Through her fellowship at the Centre, Kris Archie is interested in exploring seasonal understandings of philanthropy that are informed by living systems. Kris aims to amplify Indigenous world-views and bring Indigenous scholarship in a time and place where the settler-philanthropic sector is trying to make sense of how it remains relevant in the world.

Understanding Indigenous Philanthropy
Have you seen the salmon run? Imagine that you're standing at a creek bed. You're seeing the bright red salmon fighting their way up to the river, and dancing, shaking their back tail. Making a space for the eggs. Other salmon coming up, fertilizing the eggs and covering it back off. And then they swim off to die.

A salmon goes through its life cycle, just to come all the way back home to spawn, to put forward energy for the next generation. And then to die, to never see what happens next. Salmon are an undeniable and visual reminder that Indigenous ancestors have, since the beginning of time, gone through their days with the intensive purpose that at the end of their days they have left this world a better place.

For Kris, the ways in which salmon behave can be used as a basis to understand Indigenous philanthropy. Salmon leads her to think about examples of Indigenous ways of generosity, wealth redistribution, and ethical stewardship of resources. In her work in the settler-created philanthropic sector, it’s important to help folks recognize and understand Indigenous world views. 

Indigenous communities have millennia of experience learning and generating wisdom about ethical stewardship of resources. This is far more reaching than settler-philanthropic behaviour and can teach us about generosity, retribution, on legacy-making that is deeply embedded in our teachings and in our laws. How is it that Indigenous philanthropic behaviour leaves a legacy that can be learned from and carried on? Kris will explore a practical approach to giving people wisdom about how to activate inside of these spheres of influence for the ethical stewardship of resources.

Fellowship Work at the Centre
Some of the questions that Kris is working through during her fellowship include:

  • How can the living systems of the seasons inform our practices and behaviours as human beings, both with other humans and other living beings and entities?
  • What is the relationship of humans to land through each season?
  • How can those natural rhythms of being in deep relationship to land / place / culture / language / story activate our wisest behaviours? Both philanthropically and more broadly regarding how it is to be a good human, a good steward.

During her fellowship, Kris will dig into the above questions and conversations, to invite others into dialogue and to learn from and understand one another. Her fellowship will serve as a foundational framework for understanding our teachings and the life cycle of being a good ancestor.