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Director's Lecture

Embracing a Complicated Relationship: Indigenous Museum Practices


Event Summary

Teresa Montoya (Diné) moderating the "Embracing a Complicated Relationship Indigenous Museum Practices" discussion, December 1, 2020.

Over the past 30 years, museum institutions have learned to engage with tribal communities more directly in the stewardship of their cultural materials. Stemming from federal mandates around the repatriation of human remains and objects of cultural patrimony, practices of consultation and recognition of community protocols have become more commonplace in museum venues. Despite these efforts, differing ideologies of care and collaboration between museum institutions and tribal communities remain an ongoing issue of negotiation and, at times, tension. Today the role of Indigenous curators, collection managers, and educators includes not only the maintenance of multiple standards of care, but also of relationships—relations with colleagues, institutions, and community, both living and ancestral. The panelists in this online discussion considered the navigation of this complicated relationship and the concrete ways they uphold and implement Indigenous museum practices in their research, curation, and pedagogy.


heather ahtone (Choctaw/Chickasaw), Senior Curator, First Americans Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Miranda Belarde-Lewis
(Zuni/Tlingit), Curator, Assistant Professor of Native North American Indigenous Knowledge, University of Washington Information School

Elizabeth Hoover
(Self-identified Mohawk/Mi’kmaq descent), Associate Professor of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley

Teresa Montoya
, moderator (Diné), Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow and Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago

Nina Sanders
(Apsáalooke), Curator, writer, cultural consultant, Neubauer Collegium Visiting Fellow

Related Media

The Complicated Relationship between Museums and Native Americans” (UChicago News, December 24, 2020)