Some days I feel like I’ve already landed myself a dream job at a museum. I currently work the front desk / store at the Anchorage Museum as a Visitor Service Assistant. I enjoy the job a lot (especially since at the Museum I have a chair to sit in vs my other job as a Barista haha) but, I know there is more I want to do in my life in the realm of museums.
In an ideal setting I would actually work in collections and or archives for a museum. I’m currently looking into after getting my BA in Anthropology going for a masters in Library Sciences or a some other secondary degree in Museumology. I enjoy the thought of working behind the scenes and in the thick of the reference materials and items.
(Image of the Heard Museums Archives, Phoenix, Arizona. retrieved from their website at: https://heard.org/library/archives/ )
Last year when I was at the little triple A in Fairbanks (the Alaska Anthropology Association annual conference) I went to as many panels as I could that were related to Cultural Resource Management and Artifact Storage. I was absolutely captivated with one panel in particular that was about Museums working with Indigenous groups using facets of Cultural Resource Management, such as NAGPRA to start talks with Museums not only about where their collections are from but also foster relationships with local tribal groups through archival means and respectful storage. One example given was that there are museums who have partnerships with local tribal organization for storage of sensitive items from things that are sensitive to the elements that could only be optimally preserved professionally to items such as Shaman materials that a tribe would like to be preserved but, not on display and instead was stored by the organization in a respectful way where it was labeled properly and handled a certain way. Another part of the discussion was about letting Indigenous groups perform dances and host potlaches in museum spaces so that the spirits that reside in those cultural items know their decedents know where they are and still care for them. Helping keep that connection.
Honestly my dream is to be someone who specifically works in Collections and Archives for a museum who is also a lesion between collections and Indigenous groups, governments, and tribes/clans. I want to bridge the gap and have those conversations about storing tribal items that maybe a tribal group doesn’t have the facilities or space to store. I want to help foster connections and help plan out repatriation of a museums collections of human remains. I want to be on a board or have the ability to suggest and help plan events that a museum could co-host for an Indigenous gatherings. There is a disconnect between the items on display/archived and the people who are living that culture those items came from…
Just Ideally I would work in collections and archiving but also be a type of cultural resource management lesion between the museum collections / archives and local Indigenous groups.
Question: In What ways do you think Museums could foster better relations with Indigenous Groups?