Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2010


Published in Great Plains Research 20.1 (Spring 2010): 143-44.


Copyright 2010 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


In recent years a number of related academic fields have explored the connections between museums and Indigenous peoples. The growth in published monographs and edited volumes has in part been spurred on by the 2004 opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. This monograph raises significant questions and reveals numerous debates surrounding such issues as ownership and access to museum collections and archives; the repatriation of human remains, funerary items, and cultural patrimony; Native American traditional and modern art and art museums; the need for consultation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples and communities; and the importance of sacred sites.

The study’s title is derived from the titles of two protested museum exhibits: The Spirit Sings: Artistic Traditions of Canada’s First Peoples, organized by the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, and discussed in chapter 1; and First Encounters, designed by the Florida Museum of Natural History as a traveling exhibit celebrating the Columbus Quincentenary, and outlined in chapter 7. The author explains “[t]he term ‘spirited encounters’ captures the energetic battles waged by indigenous protestors [sic] who have been determined to force museums to recognize and redress long-held institutional biases regarding Native life and history.”