Building Relationships between Native American Communities and French Museums | A Project for France

National Museum of the American Indian

Two French museum officials participated in the first part of a hybrid virtual/in-person project that looked at the relationship between museums and Native Americans. The virtual component took place in November 2020 with a follow-up in-person component scheduled to take place in November 2021. Washington DC meetings provided a big picture overview of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and other laws that protect Native American historical and cultural artifacts and human remains. A meeting with the National Park Service focused on how the federal government oversees NAGPRA implementation. They also met with representatives from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and National Museum of Natural History to discuss collections management and the care and curation of Native American cultural items.

Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, a law firm that provides legal services and advocacy to Native American communities, included a case study of protecting cultural heritage items from the Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico (which they will visit on their in-person program). The participants had a chance to learn more about how Oregon’s Portland Museum of Art’s Native American collections curator is implementing NAGPRA claims. In Oklahoma, participants learned about how the Cherokee preserve, protect and share their history and cultural heritage through their own cultural center. As one of the participants noted after the virtual program:

“The quality of the discussions, the depth of the debates, opened up new horizons for me in terms of legislation and, beyond that, ways of thinking about heritage that I had no idea about. It is a great opportunity to have been able to share with museum professionals, institutions and representatives of the nations. The diversity of their points of view and the concreteness of what they had to say really enriched me.

Sponsors & Partnerships

U.S. Department of State
International Visitor Leadership Program, U.S. Department of State
Tulsa Global Alliance

Project summary

Building Relationships between Native American Communities and French Museums | A Project for France
Number of Visitors: 2
Regions: Europe and Eurasia
Countries: France
Impact Areas: Cultural Diplomacy
Program Areas: Global Leadership