Sunday, May 14, 2017

New Yale Partner Faulted for Handling of Tribal Artifacts

Leslie MacMillian and Tom Masberg, The New York Times
May 10, 2017

"A 210-year-old seminary here that is in the process of joining Yale Divinity School is coming under fire from federal regulators for failing to follow a law designed to ensure the return of sacred and other special artifacts to Native American tribes.

The Newton Andover Theological School has a collection of 158 Native American items, including locks of hair, wampum belts, “peace pipes” and finely beaded ceremonial garb, mostly gathered in the 19th century by Christian missionaries. For about 70 years, the artifacts have been housed at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass.

But the museum alerted the United States Department of the Interior two years ago when the Newton school, which is struggling with low enrollment, proposed selling some items to raise money. Officials quickly warned the school that a sale would violate a federal law that says any organization that receives federal funding must make every effort to return any spiritual or culturally significant items it holds to the tribes.

Last week, federal officials sent another warning letter to the seminary because it still has not complied by sending inventories of the items to tribes, as required.
“Is Andover being negligent or incompetent?” David Tarler, a federal official tasked with enforcing the law, said in an interview. “Are they confused about the law but acting in good faith? I can’t answer that question.”

School officials said they “abruptly pivoted” after the initial warning in 2015 and decided that no sale would take place. They blame delays on the difficulty of searching spotty historical records to determine which objects might belong to what tribes."

More here.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Position Announcement: Cultural/Museum Administrator, Tohono O'odham Nation’s Cultural Center/Museum

Position Summary:
Under limited supervision, accomplishes established objectives by planning, organizing, directing and evaluating all functions required to operate and maintain activities and services provided by the Tohono O'odham Nation’s Cultural Center/Museum. The work is normally reviewed upon completion to ensure compliance with general organization/ department goals, policies and procedures. Major work activities are covered by procedures or guidelines permitting flexibility in selecting methods to utilize and procedures to follow, determination of work priorities, and the planning and coordination of projects.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities: 
-Ensures Cultural Center/Museum effectiveness by identifying short-term and long-term goals and concerns that must be addressed.
-Implements and maintains professional standards and serves as the liaison between the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Nation’s Government, Cultural Center/Museum Board, advisory groups, Districts, School Districts, Communities, other Museums, archaeology and anthropology communities.
-Directs the development of strategic plans for all Cultural Center/Museum activities and programs.
-Directs the establishment, implementation, and communication of goals, objectives, policies and procedures in accordance with strategic plans.
-Provides information and recommends options and course of action by implementing directives.
-Increases management’s effectiveness by recruiting, selecting, orientating, training, coaching, and disciplining Cultural Center/Museum personnel; communicating values, strategies, and objectives; assigning responsibilities and assessing accountability; establishing a climate for offering operational opinions and suggestions; providing and participating in educational opportunities.
-Achieves financial objectives by preparing and administering annual budget; presenting and justifying budget recommendations to appropriate personnel.
-Prepares and submits reports on the status, activities, and plans for current and future operations to immediate supervisor, and required personnel.
-Secures additional funding for the continuation and expansion of program services and services delivery. 
-Maintains professional and technical knowledge by conducting research, reviewing professional publications, establishing networks, participating in professional societies, and conferring with representatives of contracting agencies and related organizations.
-Performs other job related duties as assigned and contributes to a team effort.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
• Knowledge of the Tohono O’odham history, culture, customs, and traditions.
• Knowledge of applicable federal, state, tribal laws, regulations and requirements.
• Knowledge of laws, regulations, codes, ordinances and statutes regarding Culture Center/Museum operations.
• Knowledge of budget preparation and grant/proposal writing and administration.
• Knowledge of tribal, state and federal accounting, purchasing, auditing and human resources policies and procedures.
• Knowledge of Museums as well as museum management.
• Knowledge of effective principles and practices of management and supervision.
• Skill in effective management and supervision.
• Skill in providing superior customer service to internal and external customers.
• Skill in Microsoft Office, Excel, Access, PowerPoint.
• Ability to formulate and implement a strategic vision and articulate the museum mission.
• Ability to demonstrate a high level of sensibility to community issues and concerns.
• Ability to prepare reports, exercise initiative and exhibit independent judgment.
• Ability to facilitate meetings, conferences and training.
• Ability to communicate efficiently and effectively both verbally and in writing.
• Ability to establish and maintain positive and effective working relationships with other employees, and the general public.
• Ability to maintain privileged confidential information.
• Ability to work independently and meet strict time lines.
• Ability to work extended hours and various work schedules.

Minimum Qualifications:
• Master’s Degree in Museum Studies, Native American Studies, or closely related field, and one year work experience in museum administration, research and related museum activities, or an equivalent combination of training, education, and work experience which demonstrates the ability to perform the duties of this position.
• Two years of supervisory experience.

Licenses, Certifications, Special Requirements:
• Upon recommendation for hire a criminal background and fingerprint check is required to determine suitability for hire.
• Must possess and maintain a valid driver’s license (no DUIs or major traffic citations within the last three years).
• Must meet the Tohono O’odham Nation tribal employer’s insurance requirements to receive a driver’s permit to operate program vehicles.
• Based on the department’s needs, incumbents may be required to demonstrate fluency in both the Tohono O’odham Language and English as a condition of employment.

Physical Demands:
While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear. The employee is frequently required to stand and sit; walk; use hands to finger, handle, or feel; reach with hands and arms. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 20 pounds. This list of duties and responsibilities is illustrative only of the tasks performed by this position and is not all-inclusive

To apply, contact
Tohono O'odham Human Resources Office, P.O. Box 837
Sells, Arizona 85634
(520) 383-6540

Thursday, May 11, 2017

‘Encyclopedic’ Brooklyn Museum Vies for Contemporary Attention

The New York Times
April 30, 2017

"Brooklyn’s time may have come. But what of the Brooklyn Museum’s?

With art enthusiasts and donors increasingly enamored by contemporary art, and the borough now officially hot, the Brooklyn Museum is struggling to preserve and promote its identity as a serious encyclopedic institution that spans thousands of years. As leaders there are finding, it isn’t easy to attract paying customers with historic collections.

While many museums with comprehensive collections face similar challenges in keeping up with trends, the Brooklyn Museum is also facing serious financial pressures. To deal with a budget deficit of about $3 million, the museum has undergone two rounds of buyouts and halted acquisitions.

The museum’s board seems to have bet on a contemporary emphasis by choosing a new director with a background in that field, Anne Pasternak. Yet she needs to find her own balance between recent art and the museum’s vast holdings in pre-20th-century work."

More here.

Monday, May 08, 2017

CFP: Shifting States Conference, AAS, ASA & ASAANZ

Shifting States Anthropology Conference
11-15 December 2017, University of Adelaide

Three anthropology associations (AAS, ASA and ASAANZ) are collaborating to put on an international conference in December 2017, bringing together anthropologists and members from across Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Commonwealth and beyond. The conference is titled Shifting States and you can read the theme here.

The five keynotes are already confirmed and the call for panels is now open, so please read the theme and then the call for panels. Deadline for submissions is 10th May.

More here

Monday, May 01, 2017

Native America’s Necessary And Imperfect Law, Chip Colwell for HuffPost

Chip Colwell, HuffPost
April 28, 2017

"In the spring of 1872, the skull of an Apache woman was dug up from the earth. The year before she had been among 100 Apaches massacred by a vigilante group from Tucson, who believed her people, the Aravaipa and Pinal bands, had perpetrated a series of raids. (They were likely committed by unrelated Chiricahua Apaches.) The woman’s skull was exhumed by a U.S. Army surgeon named Valery Havard who hoped the skeletal remains could serve the new science of anthropology. He signed his name on the side of the skull and deposited it in the collections of the Army Medical Museum. The skull was later transferred to “America’s Attic,” the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History where it would stay for more than a century.

In 2013, the Smithsonian relinquished the woman’s skull to a group of Aravaipa Apache descendants for reburial. This would not have been possible except for federal laws guiding a process called repatriation—the return of human remains and cultural items to their homelands. For decades museum administrators and Native Americans clashed over the fate of collections—debating whether such objects honored humanity’s common heritage or they violated the human rights of Native Americans. These federal laws have done much to help end the war. But too many battles continue on.

Valery Havard’s action was not unique: Since 1620, when Pilgrims first plundered an Indian grave out of curiosity, Americans have habitually collected Native American remains as curios or objects of study. That habit became federal policy in 1868 when the U.S. Surgeon General ordered military personnel to collect skulls from battlefields, cemeteries, hospitals, and graves. Indian bodies soon became a cornerstone of American museums, used to build racial hierarchies that purported to show Europeans as intellectually and emotionally superior."

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Position Announcement: Curator of Native American Art, Portland Art Museum, Oregon

The Portland Art Museum is currently accepting applications for the position of Curator of Native American Art.  This full-time curatorial position is responsible for the care, research, and exhibition of objects in the Museum’s Native American art collection; researching and developing Native American and indigenous exhibitions; working on related educational programs; and building strong, active, and ongoing relationships and partnerships with Native communities.  The position also supervises the Museum’s new Center for Contemporary Native Art, as well as the presentation of all traveling exhibitions of Native American art scheduled by the Portland Art Museum.

Founded in 1892, the Portland Art Museum celebrates its 125th anniversary this year as one of the oldest art museums in the United States and the oldest in the Pacific Northwest. The Museum’s collection of 47,500 objects reflects the history of art from ancient times to today. The collection is distinguished for its holdings of arts of the native peoples of North America; modern and contemporary art; Asian and American art; photographs, prints, and drawings; and English silver. With more than 112,000 square feet of gallery space, the Museum dedicates 90 percent of its gallery space to its permanent collection. More than 300,000 visitors are welcomed annually, including more than 50,000 students.

Preeminent among the Museum’s permanent collection is the Native American Art collection. Established in 1948, this collection has been on continuous view since 1949, when the Museum was the first institution to dedicate permanent gallery space to the exhibition of Native American objects as works of art rather than as anthropological artifacts. In the past five years, the Museum has quadrupled its holdings of contemporary Native American art, bridging its significant historic art holdings with 21st century artistic and cultural practices. Also during this time, the Museum has worked to establish relationships with local, regional, and national tribes—relationships which have, in part, allowed the Museum to fulfill its Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act responsibilities. Most recently, the Museum repatriated eighteen Crow medicine bundles to the Crow Nation in Montana.

The Museum’s Native American Art Initiative (NAAI), a three-year project from 2012-2015 funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), resulted in the digitizing and online publication of its world-class collection of Native American art, comprising approximately 3,500 objects, dating from pre-European contact to the present and featuring important historic and contemporary works from nearly every tribal group in North America.  The increased visibility of the Museum’s unique collection of Native American art benefits scholars, students, and the general public. Thanks to a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, the Curator of Native American Art position also has access to expanded resources needed to conduct collections research and strengthen display practices in Native American art. This support from the Mellon Foundation includes a pre-doctoral fellowship position in Native American art, reporting to the Curator of Native American Art.

In 2015, the Museum opened its new Center for Contemporary Native Art—a dedicated gallery for presenting the work and perspectives of contemporary Native artists. At the core of the Center’s mission is the commitment to partner with Native artists in creating the exhibitions, interpretation, and programming for the space. This approach challenges visitors to think about Native American art and the cultures that inform the work as dynamic and changing, strengthening a contemporary view of Native art in the Museum. The Center is being supported by a 2-year grant from IMLS, which includes an evaluation of the Center’s initiatives conducted by the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona.  Future funding will need to be secured.

In 2016, the Museum presented the acclaimed Contemporary Native Photographers and the Edward Curtis Legacy, an exhibition that juxtaposed contemporary portraiture by Native American photographers alongside Edward Curtis’ renowned work; and hosted the traveling exhibition Native Fashion Now, celebrating the visual range, creative expression, and political nuance of Native American fashion.  As the Museum looks to the future, it is excited to continue planning for a major traveling exhibition featuring objects from its permanent collection of Northwest Coast art.  An envisioned exhibition entitled The Art of Resilience: A Continuum of Tlingit Arts (working title) will celebrate the spirit of Tlingit art past and present. The Curator of Native American Art and museum staff will work closely with artists, scholars, leaders, and partners in the Tlingit community and Southeast Alaska in planning and implementing this major exhibition and its interpretation. Works, including magnifi
 cent masks, Chilkat and Ravenstail robes, bentwood chests, and clan crest adorned ornamental and utilitarian objects of the highest quality and stunning workmanship, will reveal the strength and spirit of the people of Southeast Alaska—art that has come to epitomize the Native Northwest Coast art tradition.  This exhibition, related programming, and a scholarly catalog have been supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

•       Conducts ongoing research on the Museum’s Native American collections and on Native American art in general.
•       Develops exhibitions and installations from the Museum’s permanent collection; develops programs that promote a deeper understanding of Native American art and the continuum of indigenous artistic and cultural practices.
•       Coordinates exhibition and programs and helps fundraise for the Center for Contemporary Native Art, working closely with the Director of Education and Public Programs.
•       Conducts research, selects objects, and works with registrars on coordination of loan agreements, packing and shipping, and other exhibition details.
•       Writes catalogues, brochures, and other publications; writes exhibition wall labels and extended object labels.
•       Works to build relationships and partnerships with Native communities in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond.
•       Works with Education Department and curatorial colleagues (as needed) to develop programs and activities that relate to or enhance exhibitions and permanent collection installations.
•       Presents gallery talks, docent lectures, and public lectures on relevant exhibitions and aspects of the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions.
•       Makes recommendations for acquisitions and de-accessions to the Director, Chief Curator, Director of Collections and Exhibitions and the Museum’s Collections Committee.
•       Cultivates collectors and funder prospects for possible donations of art objects and financial support.
•       In partnership with the volunteer Chair, leads the Native American Art Council; provides guidance and advice for programming and other council activities.
•       In partnership with the Chair, leads the Native Art Advisory Committee to invite input and feedback on exhibitions, programs, and collections pertaining to Native American art and issues relevant to Native communities.
•       Works with the Development Office to develop support for programs and activities.
•       Works with the Library to develop research and reference materials related to curatorial area.
•       Serves as a curator-in-charge of traveling exhibitions, as assigned.
•       Participates in the professional and intellectual discourse related to Native American art as well as the museum profession; provides services to the disciplines through participation as an active member of professional organizations.
•       Is conversant with the Native American art market, maintains contact with dealers, galleries, collectors, fellow professionals, and other constituencies as appropriate as a basis for collection growth and exhibition development.
•       Fields and responds to inquiries from the public.

•       M.A. in Art History, Cultural Anthropology, Native American Studies, Curatorial Studies, or Museum Studies, and 5 years of related work experience or equivalent combination of education and experience.
•       In-depth knowledge and appreciation of Native American art, including contemporary, traditional and historic materials and a working knowledge of tribal history and culture.
•       A demonstrated record of working successfully with Native communities.
•       A demonstrated history of superior ethical behavior.
•       Demonstrated high level of initiative and persistence in completing assignments.
•       Proficiency in MS Office Suite, including Word, Excel, Outlook and web-based research tools.

•       Possesses the ability to effectively navigate between Native and non-Native communities
•       Promotes diversity and difference. Keen sense of organizational awareness.
•       Exceptional interpersonal skills, able to quickly develop rapport, as well as build and maintain effective long-term relationships with trustees, staff, colleagues, tribal communities, volunteers, docents, and the Native and non-Native art communities.
•       Strategic perspective to consider the impact of decisions, plans, and programs on the Museum, and make sound recommendations accordingly.
•       Analytical and conceptual thinking.
•       Displays drive and purpose.
•       Demonstrates ethics and integrity in general, and honors tribal protocols and ethics specifically.
•       Excellent verbal and written communication skills, with the ability to prepare and deliver concise, understandable, and effective presentations to a wide audience.
•       Ability to work within a complex, fast-paced environment.
•       Highly organized and attentive to detail with the ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously.

This position is full time with a salary depending on experience. The position is anticipated to begin when the successful candidate is identified.  The position is eligible for the Museum's benefits package first of the month following 30-days of full-time employment. Benefits include medical and dental, paid time off (vacation, sick, holiday, jury duty, bereavement), long-term disability and AD&D, 401(k) retirement account, flexible spending accounts, and a variety of perks such as free Museum admission, Gift Shop discounts, and screenings at the NW Film Center. Please see our website for more details.

To apply online visit: and follow the link to create a profile. Please contact with questions.

The Portland Art Museum is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Closing Date: June 30, 2017

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Call for Sessions: 2017 Indigenous International Repatriation Conference

The Association on American Indian Affairs is pleased to announce that the INDIGENOUS INTERNATIONAL REPATRIATION CONFERENCE: "Journey Home: Empowering Indigenous Communities in International Repatriation" will take place this year at the Isleta Resort & Casino in Albuquerque, NM, September 25-26, 2017. We welcome participants to come together to learn, share and discuss the very important cultural and human rights issue of Indigenous International Repatriation.

Who Should Attend?

We welcome Tribal Elders, Indigenous Traditionalists & Spiritual Leaders, Indigenous Repatriation Representatives, Native Nations, Indigenous Peoples, Federal Agencies, Government Representatives, Tribal Members, Museum Professionals and Representatives and other interested participants, and look forward to having you participate in the conference!

The AAIA invites proposals for sessions that reflect the theme of the Indigenous International Repatriation Conference: Journey Home: Empowering Indigenous Communities in Repatriation. A typical session will be 1.5 hours and allow for a 20 minute question and answer period or open discussion within that time frame.

Judges for this art call welcome artists and photographers whose works fit into our conference theme, Journey Home: Empowering Indigenous Communities in International Repatriation. Work should reflect the artist's vision surrounding this very important human rights issue. This competition is open to all artists/photographers 18 years of age or older. Entries must be created in any still medium: painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, digital art, prints, fiber art, collage, installations. Artists will be asked to submit a photograph of their artwork and complete the requirements of the art submission online. Submissions will be accepted from April 27 to June 4, 2017.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Denver Art Museum Announces Five-Month-Long Collaborative Native Arts Artist-in-Residence Project Kicking Off in May

This May, the Denver Art Museum (DAM) Native Arts Artist-in-Residence program will feature three alumni artist residents, including Melanie Yazzie, Walt Pourier and Gregg Deal, for a one-of-a-kind collaborative project titled Action X Community X Togetherness.While their artistic styles and mediums vary, the collaboration is focused on one central theme: art as a call to action and a catalyst for change. Their exploration of this theme will drive a variety of joint projects, such as talks, tours and workshops where visitors will have the opportunity to engage with the artists through September 2017. The program launched in 2012 to highlight the ongoing creativity among Native American artists, while enlivening museum experiences and spotlighting key permanent museum collections.

Denver Art Museum
100 W. 14th Avenue Pkwy., Denver, CO 80204
May 6–Sept. 10, 2017

Public programming will take place during the following events:

Talks and art-making workshops at Untitled Final Fridays‒May 26, June 30, July 28 and Aug. 25
Demonstrations at Free First Saturdays‒May 6, June 3 and July 1
Hands-on artmaking at the Friendship Powwow and American Indian Cultural Celebration‒Sept. 9

About The Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. Metro citizens support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a unique funding source serving hundreds of metro Denver arts, cultural and scientific organizations. For museum information, call 720-865-5000 or visit