As the Chief of Museum Learning at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Tim Grove has quite a few stories to tell about his experiences in public history.

In this excerpt from his book A Grizzly in the Mail and Other Adventures in American HistoryGrove describes an exhibit project about the Lewis and Clark expedition where he sought interpretive and cultural guidance from a team of Native American tribal advisers.

This project raised important and controversial issues about the ownership of history, commemoration of contested figures, and how to tell stories that lack written documentary evidence.

Some discussion topics:

  • Can Anglo-Americans fairly tell the story of Native Americans? Can any group really tell the story of another?
  • How can the Native story be told when first-person documents don’t exist? How can oral tradition be used?
  • Can we commemorate explorers while acknowledging how their actions affected and sometimes devastated Native peoples?