Tribal Museums in the 21st Century

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type




First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Since the 1900's Native American communities often disregarded the idea of a museum. The museums' idea on the reservation reflected a history of colonial and disenfranchisement and cultural suppression. Before the twentieth century, the representation of Native Americans in museums was incorrect and stereotypical. How can we begin to decolonize museums that thriveon Western institutional values that have become intimately linked to the colonial process? How can tribal museums challenge the stereotypical representations of Native American history produced in the past? While the research has already been done on tribal museums, it is essential to gather and analyze Native voices and what they think about museums today. I believe that tribal museums are central to maintaining and revitalizing culture and indigenous people's self-identity and self-esteem in the twenty-first century. This research project will discuss how the twenty-first-century tribal museums resist and shift Westernized museums by completing a comprehensive literature review by incorporating native voices and perspectives from tribal museums throughout New Mexico and the National Museum of the American Indian.

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