Spring 2018

The New World of the Indigenous Museum

Philip J. Deloria

Museums have long offered simplistic representations of American Indians, even as they served as repositories for Indigenous human remains and cultural patrimony. Philip J. Deloria indicates two critical interventions – the founding of the National Museum of the American Indian (1989) and the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990) – that helped transform museum practice. The decades following this legislation saw an explosion of tribal museums and an increase in tribal capacity in both repatriation and cultural affairs. The NMAI, for one, explicitly argues for Native people’s centrality in the American story and insists not only on survival narratives, but also on Indigenous futurity.

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