The Changing Presentation of the American Indian

Museums and Native Cultures

W. Richard West

  • Published: August 2015
  • Subject Listing: Art History / Native American and Indigenous Art; Native American and Indigenous Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 119 pp., 18 illus., 6.125 x 9.25 in.
  • Published with: National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution
  • Contents

Museums - along with books, newspapers, and Wild West shows in the 19th century, movies and television in the 20th - have shaped our perceptions of American Indians. This book brings together six prominent museum professionals - Native and non-Native - to examine the ways in which Indians and their cultures have been represented by museums in North America and to present new directions museums are already taking.

Traditional museum exhibitions of Native American art and culture often represented only the past, ignoring the living Native voice. Today, museums have begun to incorporate Native perspectives in their displays. Even more dramatic is the growth in the number of Indian-run museums. These essays explore the relationships being forged between museums and Native communities to create new techniques for presenting Native American culture. This publication will serve to stimulate the discussions and analyses that can lead to new partnerships and collaborations.
W. Richard West, Jr. , is the founding director of the National Musem of the American Indian. Other contributors include Richard Hill, Sr., Michael M. Ames, Janice Clements, Evan M. Maurer, James D. Nason, David W. Penney, and Jocelyn Wedll.
Introduction A New Idea of Ourselves: The Changing Presentation of the American Indian / W. Richard West, Jr.

1. Presenting the American Indian: From Europe to America / Evan M. Maurer
2. "Our" Indians: The Unidimensional Indian in the Disembodied Local Past / James D. Nason
3. The Poetics of Museum Representations: Tropes of Recent American Indian Art Exhibitions / David W. Penney
4. The Integration of Traditional Indian Beliefs into the Museum at Warm Springs / Janice Clements
5. Are Changing Representations of First Peoples in Canadian Museums and Galleries Challenging the Curatorial Prerogative? / Michael M. Ames
6. Learn About Our Past to Understand Our Future: The Story of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe / Joycelyn Wedll