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Legacies of Resistance and Resilience

November 20, 2017

Altar photo

In celebration of National Native American Heritage Month, we’d like to journey back to, ‘The Legacies of Resistance and Resilience’ altar + zine project.

This interactive artistic expression of storytelling was created by Cal State LA Research Justice students in Kimberly Robertson's Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies course to highlight and honor ancestral stories. 

The altar the students created was dedicated to our "teachers" - the ancestors who have endured trauma yet gifted our communities with their legacies. The altar was displayed at Grand Central Park during ‘Noche de Ofrenda; Downtown Día de Los Muertos’ for more than seven days allowing the public to engage with the altar to (re)member and honor their own ancestral stories and legacies.

Community engaging

Every part of the altar carries significance. It was surrounded and protected by California native plants, White Sage, a sacred shrub used in ritual and ceremony by local indigenous communities. In between the white sage plants were luminaries that illuminated words centered towards the hope of a future that centers and celebrates marginalized identities.

Community members were invited to patriciate in tying tobacco bundles with guidance from the students and their professor, Kimberly. Tobacco is also a sacred plant used by indigenous communities as prayer offerings and just like white sage must be honored by sharing their stories.

Tobacco ties

The backdrop of the altar is fabric sewn together with multi-colored ribbons to represent an indigenous ribbon skirt, a symbol of resilience. Upon the table were offerings for the public, Hummingbird art buttons and a free copy of the ‘Hummingbirds and Healing’ zine, which you can download for free by clicking on the hummingbird image below.  

The mission of community projects like this is to achieve and grow collective liberation while honoring the past as we move forward. The hummingbird symbol weaved throughout this project speaks and celebrates indigenous teachings of this bird’s wisdom in being able to be remain mindful while flying fast in both directions, forward and backwards.  

Within the zine you will find sections honoring local indigenous leaders along with the acknowledgement of radical women of color and gender non-conforming ancestors.

You can learn more about this project by visiting, an online documentation on resistance, healing, and ancestry by Research Justice Students at Cal State LA. 

This project was made possible with support from the Cal State LA Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities, College of Arts & Letters, and Self Help Graphics & Art. 

Free zine download