Cultural Survival Bazaars: Change Up Your Holiday Shopping Routine

Aymara artisans Felicia Huarsaya Villasant at CSB AmherstAymara artisan Felicia Huarsaya Villasant (Photos courtesy of Cultural Survival)

Most of us may have one task on our mind for this weekend: holiday shopping. Whether we like it or not, our inner consumerist will be at full throttle as we track down bargains like it’s our job. But here’s a thought—let’s change up our shopping experience.

Enter Cultural Survival. Yes—it’s exactly how it sounds. A nonprofit organization that began in 1972, Cultural Survival (CS) works to preserve the land, languages, and cultures of indigenous people from all over the world. While the organization has several methods of working toward this mission, the weekend bazaars are great ways for the general public to get involved.

Cultural Survival Bazaar

“We work with artisans from all around the world, and individuals can come and learn about different cultures and help support sustainable livelihood,” said Dave Favreau, the Bazaar Program Manager at CS.

This winter, the bazaars will run every weekend until December 23, and will be in three different locations (starting in Cambridge) during the three weekends before Christmas. Attendees will have the opportunity to browse and purchase handmade crafts, jewelry, clothing, tapestry, household items, and more, as well as discuss these works of art with some of the most interesting people they might ever encounter.

“It’s a place where you can buy a one-of-a-kind gift that has a story behind it—it’s more than just getting a great pair of earrings,” said Favreau. “It supports something specific, like education for Maasai girls in Kenya, or women’s healthcare in Uganda.”

If getting the chance to mingle with talented foreigners and buy something more meaningful than just a gift card is not reason enough to check them out, the CS bazaars also feature live performances by natives and other entertainment, like film showings and Native American storytelling. Visitors of all ages will learn, about, interact with, and give back to some of the most fascinating groups of people whose livelihoods and cultures are at risk of disappearing.

Cultural Survival Bazaar


December 7, 8, and 9: Featuring a performance by Sidy Maiga and the Afrimanding, music of Mali, and the sharing of Maasai culture by the Simba Maasai Outreach Program. Jewelry and crafts from Botswana, unique wire art by Bernard Domingo of Zimbabwe, and Yayla Tribal Rugs by indigenous weavers of the Middle East and Central Asia will be among the many items for sale.

10 a.m.-6 p.m., Cambridge College, 1000 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MBTA Red Line to Harvard Square

December 15 and 16: Meet Maya weaver Maria Xoch, who has been working with A Thread of Hope since she was 10 years old. Browse and buy the work of Felicia Huarsaya of Peru, as well as the symbolic and colorful masterpieces of Cilau Valadez of a small village in the mountains of the Sierra Madres. Listen to the unique rhythms of the musical group Yarina, blending jazz and reggae influenced by the Amazon jungles and the Andes Mountains.

10 a.m.-6 p.m., Harvard University, Center for Government & International Studies, 1730 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MBTA Red Line to Harvard Square

December 21, 22, and 23: The final weekend of the winter bazaar schedule will include jewelry and other works by Lenny and Kelly Novak, an Algonquin/Abenaqui artist family, as well as another appearance by the talented artisans Domingo, Xoch, Valadez, and Huarsaya, who will likely share with you their captivating stories.

Friday, Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., The Shops at Prudential Center, Belvidere Arcade, 800 Boylston St., Boston, MBTA Green Line E Train to Prudential Station


For more information about the Cultural Survival organization, affiliated artisans, and the CS bazaar schedule, visit