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Personal identity is a self-concept that comes from one’s knowledge of one’s membership in a social group, and the resulting sense of value and emotional significance. Cultural identity is the sense of importance and attachment one has to a group, along with positive or negative feelings about being part of that group. “Culture” is a collective expression of identity. Identity is subjective – it is a sense of coherence, consistency, and continuity of self, based on both personal and group history. How people identify individually and within groups is varied and full of complexities; to understand identity as a one-dimensional phenomenon (e.g., “all Indigenous people are spiritual”) is essentialist. For oppressed peoples, identity operates within a matrix of domination.

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