BenchInterpreting Native American History and Culture features ideas and suggested best practices for the staff and board of museums that care for collections of Native material culture, and who work with Native American culture, history, and communities. This resource gives museum and history professionals benchmarks to help shape conversations and policies designed to improve relations with Native communities represented in the museum. The book includes case studies from museums that are purposefully working to incorporate Native people and perspectives into all aspects of their work. The case study authors share experiences, hoping to inspire other museum staff to reach out to tribes to develop or improve their own interpretative processes. Examples from tribal and non-tribal museums, and partnerships between tribes and museums are explored as models for creating deep and long lasting partnerships between museums and the tribal communities they represent.

The case studies represent museums of different sizes, different missions, and located in different regions of the country in an effort to address the unique history of each location. By doing so, it inspires action among museums to invite Native people to share in the interpretive process, or to take existing relationships further by sharing authority with museum staff and board.

Case study topics include:

  • Building partnerships and authority sharing between museums and Native people
  • Ways to take responsibility for museum history and legacy and promote change in collections management
  • Establishing tribal partners in education and public programs
  • Working with Native governance and advisory councils
  • As well as a brief history of federal Indian policy

Raney Bench has a Bachelors of Art in Native American Studies and a Master of Arts in Museum Studies. She has worked with Native communities and small museums throughout the United States for almost 20 years.

The case studies presented in Interpreting Native American History and Culture at Museums and Historic Sites provide excellent insights into the process of museums working with American Indian communities regarding collections, exhibits, and programming efforts. I am particularly familiar with The Eiteljorg Museum, The Abbe Museum, and The Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center and regard them as among the finest institutions when it comes to high achievements in working with Native cultures.
— Karen Coody Cooper, former museum training program coordinator at the National Museum of the American Indian and author of Spirited Encounters: American Indians Protest Museum Policies and Practices

978-0-7591-2337-3 • Hardback

978-0-7591-2338-0 • Paperback

978-0-7591-2339-7 • eBook