A nonprofit organization that runs the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has decided not to offer a grant to a museum that has a history of racist and sexist behavior.
The Smithsonian’s Center for American Indian Studies was founded in 1972 as an effort to make the American Indians’ lives better and better.
But it has been criticized for having a history in which some of its leaders have been accused of sexual harassment, including a former president who sexually harassed multiple female staffers.
It has also faced criticism for hosting events that have included white nationalist, white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups, and for being an institution where Native American artists are sometimes excluded from performing.
In a statement on its website Monday, the Smithsonian said it was “deeply troubled” by the decision, which came after the Center for Asian American Studies, a group that had donated to the Smithsonian’s cultural center, wrote to the museum saying the center should not be “part of an institution whose mission is to preserve and promote the dignity of Native Americans and people of color.”
“We know from our own experiences, from our scholars and from our colleagues who have spent years working to protect the Native American people and their cultures from racial injustice and racism, that it is impossible to maintain the integrity of our institutions and our mission if we are not able to respect and preserve their history,” the Smithsonian added.
The museum said it also said it would continue to support the Center, but “we will continue to provide support to Native American cultural institutions that we know are in need.”
In a blog post on Monday, Smithsonian president and CEO Josephine Chen wrote that the Center’s decision “is a strong signal of our commitment to support a diverse, inclusive and inclusive environment for our scholars, researchers and staff and to recognize the contributions of our Indigenous community.”
She added that “this decision is a necessary step to help us address the legacy of systemic racism in our institution and to address the serious challenges that indigenous people face.”