Repatriation as Inspiration

Multigenerational Perspectives on American Archaeology-Museum Relationships

in Museum Worlds
View More View Less
  • 1 Vassar College apbeisaw@vassar.edu
  • 2 Vassar College peduus@vassar.edu
Restricted access

ABSTRACT

At the turn of the twentieth century, American museums helped to legitimize archaeology as a scientific discipline. By the next century, repatriation legislation had forced archaeologists to confront the dehumanization that can take place when bodies and sacred objects are treated as scientific specimens. Charting the future(s) of archaeology-museum relationships requires us to (1) recognize where, when, and how harm has been done, (2) confront those harmful precedents, and (3) restructure collections and exhibits in ways that heal wounds and advance research. Current research on the 1916 Susquehanna River Expedition, an archaeology-museum project funded by George Gustav Heye, provides insight into how our predecessors viewed their work. Using the expedition project as backdrop, an archaeology professor and an undergraduate student engage in a dialogue that explores the changing roles of American museums as the public faces of archaeology, training grounds for young professionals, and cultural centers for us all.

Contributor Notes

APRIL M. BEISAW is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Vassar College, where she also teaches courses in Native American Studies and Environmental Studies. Her article “Memory, Identity, and NAGPRA in the Northeastern United States” was published in American Anthropologist and awarded the Gordon Willey Prize by the Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association. April’s research on the Susquehanna River Expedition has taken her into the archives of museums in California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., and there is more work to be done. She is also researching the contemporary archaeology of the New York City water system.

PENELOPE H. DUUS is an undergraduate student at Vassar College, where she majors in anthropology and minors in Native American studies. At Vassar, she has worked closely with Dr. Lucy Johnson on the archaeology of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands. Outside of Vassar, she has interned at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and will be interning at the Penn Museum in the summer of 2016, where she will work in the American Section Repatriation Office.

Museum Worlds

Advances in Research

  • Almazan, Tristan, and Sarah Coleman. 2003. “George Amos Dorsey: A Curator and His Comrades.” Pp. 8798 in Curators, Collections, and Contexts: Anthropology at the Field Museum, 1893–2002, ed. Stephen E. Nash and Gary M. Feinman. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • American Museum of Natural History. 2000. “Willamette Meteorite Agreement.” New York: American Museum of Natural History. http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent-exhibitions/rose-center-for-earth-and-space/dorothy-and-lewis-b.-cullman-hall-of-the-universe/willamette-meteorite-agreement (accessed 11 December 2015).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Anonymous. 1890. “Native Races at the World’s Fair.” The Critics: A Weekly Review of Literature and the Arts 13(338): 312.

  • Anonymous. 1914. “Gets Rare Trophies of Vanishing Race: Alanson B. Skinner Spends Three Months Among Indians Gathering Cherished Relics.” New York Times, 18 October.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barker, Alex W. 2010. “Exhibiting Archaeology: Archaeology and Museums.” Annual Review of Anthropology 39(1): 293308.

  • Boyd, Willard L. 1999. “Museums as Centers of Controversy.” Daedalus 128(3): 185228.

  • Brady, Miranda J. 2009. “A Dialogic Response to the Problematized Past.” Pp. 133155 in Contesting Knowledge: Museums and Indigenous Perspectives, ed. Susan Sleeper-Smith. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Browman, David L. 2002. “The Peabody Museum, Frederic W. Putnam, and the Rise of U.S. Anthropology, 1866–1903.” American Anthropologist 104(2): 508519.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Browman, David L., and Stephen Williams. 2013. Anthropology at Harvard: A Biographical History, 1790–1940. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brown, Michael F. 2009. “Exhibiting Indigenous Heritage in the Age of Cultural Property.” Pp. 145164 in Whose Culture? The Promise of Museums and the Debate over Antiquities, ed. J. Cuno. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Byrne, Sarah. 2013. “Exposing the Heart of the Museum: The Archaeological Sensibility in the Store-room.” Pp. 199228 in Reassembling the Collection: Ethnographic Museums and Indigenous Identity, ed. Rodney Harrison, Sarah Byrne, and Anne Clarke. Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clarke, D.V. 1997. “Changing Paradigms in Museum Archaeology.” Antiquity 71(273): 744746.

  • Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Chip. 2004. “Remembrance of Things and Things Past: Museums As Memorials and Encounters with Native American History.” Museum Anthropology 27(1–2): 3748.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Chip. 2009. Inheriting the Past: The Making of Arthur C. Parker and Indigenous Archaeology. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Conn, Steven. 2010. “Do Museums Still Need Objects?” Pp. 2057 in Do Museums Still Need Objects? Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Curtis, Neil G.W. 2010. “Repatriation from Scottish Museums: Learning from NAGPRA.” Museum Anthropology 33(2): 234248, doi 10.1111/j.1548–1379.2010.01101.x.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dawson, Peter, Richard Levy, and Natasha Lyons. 2011. “Breaking the Fourth Wall: 3D Virtual Worlds as Tools for Knowledge Repatriation in Archaeology.” Journal of Social Archaeology 11(3): 387402, doi: 10.1177/1469605311417064.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ferguson, T.J. 1996. “Native Americans and the Practice of Archaeology.” Annual Review of Anthropology 25(1): 6379.

  • Fine-Dare, Kathleen S. 2002. Grave Injustice: The American Indian Repatriation Movement and NAG-PRA. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Griffin, James B. 1985. “The Formation of the Society for American Archaeology.” American Antiquity 50(2): 261271.

  • Hemenway, Eric. 2010. “Trials and Tribulations in a Tribal NAGPRA Program.” Museum Anthropology 33(2): 172179, doi 10.1111/j.1548–1379.2010.01094.x.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kidwell, Clara Sue. 1999. “Every Last Dishcloth: The Prodigious Collecting of George Gustav Heye.” Pp. 232258 in Collecting Native America, 1870–1960, ed. Shepard Krech III and Barbara A. Hail. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Krmpotich, Cara. 2015. “Teaching Collections Management Anthropologically.” Museum Anthropology 38(2): 112122, doi: 10.1111/muan.12087.

  • Moore, Emily. 2010. “Propatriation: Possibilities for Art After NAGPRA.” Museum Anthropology 33(2): 125136, doi 10.1111/j.1548–1379.2010.01091.x.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moorehead, Warren K. 1938. A Report of the Susquehanna River Expedition, Sponsored in 1916 by the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, Compiled and Annotated by W. K. Moorehead. Andover, MA: Andover Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nash, Stephen E., and Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh. 2010. “NAGPRA After Two Decades.” Museum Anthropology 33(2): 99104, doi 10.1111/j.1548–1379.2010.01089.x.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pepper, George H. 1916. “The Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation.” Geographical Review 2(6): 401418, doi 10.2307/207511.

  • Ramos, Maria, and David Duganne. 2000. Exploring Public Perceptions and Attitudes About Archaeology. Washington, DC: Society for American Archaeology.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schultz, Lainie. 2011. “Collaborative Museology and the Visitor.” Museum Anthropology 34(1): 112, doi: 10.1111/j.1548–1379.2010.01103.x.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Simpson, Moira G. 1996. Making Representations: Museums in the Post-Colonial Era. New York: Routledge.

  • Tythacott, Louise, and Kostas Arvanitis. 2014. Museums and Restitution: New Practices, New Approaches. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

  • Watkins, Joe. 2013. “The Politics of Archaeology: Heritage, Ownership, and Repatriation.” Pp. 1537 in Negotiating Culture: Heritage, Ownership, and Intellectual Property, ed. Laetitia La Follette. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wilson, Thomas H., and Cheri Falkenstien-Doyle 1999. “Charles Fletcher Lummis and the Origins of the Southwest Museum.” Pp. 74104 in Collecting Native America, 1870–1960, ed. Shepard Krech III and Barbara A. Hail. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zimmerman, Larry J. 2010. “WHITE PEOPLE WILL BELIEVE ANYTHING! Worrying About Authenticity, Museum Audiences, and Working in Native American–Focused Museums.” Museum Anthropology 33(1): 3336.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 40 40 31
Full Text Views 5 5 2
PDF Downloads 1 1 0