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How do I respect cultural sensitivity on my website and in my social media?

Posted by Vikki

October 9, 2023

Small businesses love to celebrate holidays.

 

Holidays help bring communities together around a purpose, and Indigenous People’s Day is a holiday that honors Native American cultures and commemorates their histories and contributions.

This day recognizes that Indigenous people are the first inhabitants of the Americas.

As this holiday becomes more widely recognized, businesses must show cultural sensitivity in their online presence. Let’s look at how you can respectfully navigate your website, social media, and other online platforms on Indigenous People’s Day and every day.

Understand cultural sensitivity

Cultural sensitivity is being aware of, and attentive to, the cultural differences that exist between people. It involves understanding diverse perspectives and avoiding stereotypes.

For businesses, showing cultural sensitivity is vital to honoring Indigenous cultures properly. Thoughtless, inappropriate, or performative online content can be harmful. So it’s essential to go beyond surface-level gestures and truly respect Indigenous peoples.

Educate yourself

The first step is self-education. Take time to learn about Indigenous populations, especially in your local area.

  • Research the history of Indigenous People’s Day and what it aims to represent.
  • Engage with resources created by Indigenous people to understand Indigenous perspectives.

The more you learn, the better you can ensure your online presence is culturally sensitive and appropriate.

Language and images

Be thoughtful with the language used on your website.

  • Avoid generic labels like “Native American culture.” Instead, be specific about tribes and customs.
  • Stay away from clichés and stereotypes. Use terms like “Indigenous peoples/communities” and specify nation names when possible.
  • Collaborate with Indigenous groups to identify respectful words to use.

Also, carefully consider visuals like photos and videos. Appropriating or misusing cultural symbols and artifacts is offensive. Indigenous-inspired graphic designs should be done in consultation with Native artists. Whenever possible, use images that feature real Indigenous peoples and communities.

Consult with Indigenous communities

One of the best ways to incorporate cultural sensitivity into your online presence is to consult directly with Indigenous groups.

Reach out to organizations like the American Indian Chamber of Commerce (search to find the Chamber for your state) and the National Congress of American Indians. Or connect with tribal leaders in your area.

Ask for input on your website content, social media campaigns, imagery, and more. These collaborations lead to thoughtful representation.

Integrate cultural sensitivity into your marketing

A culturally sensitive marketing strategy shows sincere support, not opportunism.

  • Think beyond stereotypical depictions of Indigenous culture.
  • Share stories spotlighting the diversity of Native communities.
  • Promote Indigenous creators, vendors, and voices.
  • Commit to an ongoing culture of education, not just seasonal nods to heritage.

These principles will guide you as you shape marketing campaigns.

Celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on your website

To honor this holiday online, proactively take steps to showcase Indigenous cultures respectfully.

  • Update your website with culturally sensitive messages, videos, and images that demonstrate your commitment.
  • Blog posts and social media content educating followers are great too.
  • Promote Indigenous vendors and creators.

The goal is to celebrate in a way that aligns with Indigenous values.

Takeaways: education, understanding, respect

Cultural sensitivity requires continuous learning, understanding of diverse perspectives, and genuine respect. Avoid assumptions and stereotypes by proactively educating yourself.

Listen to Indigenous voices when seeking to represent their cultures. Collaboration is key to authenticity. With effort and compassion, your business can incorporate cultural sensitivity into its year-round online presence.

Pledge your commitment

This Indigenous People’s Day, show your dedication to honoring Native cultures by taking the pledge for cultural sensitivity.

  • Post the pledge prominently on your website and social media.
  • Let site visitors know you’re taking steps to continually improve cultural awareness online.

Together, we can build a more ethical internet.

Additional resources:

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