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IUPUI and Eiteljorg Museum to Host Meeting of the World Archaeological Congress

Jessie Ryker-Crawford
Jessie Ryker-Crawford Paul Tapsell
Paul Tapsell


June 13, 2011

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The Museum Studies Program in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art will co-host an international Inter-Congress of the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) on June 22-25, 2011, at the IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd.

Many Indigenous people such as American Indians and Australian Aborigines believe their peoples are poorly represented in museum exhibits and programs. The Inter-Congress, titled, “Indigenous People and Museums: Unraveling the Tensions,” will focus on this problem and on improving partnerships between museums and Indigenous peoples.

The only archaeological organization with elected global representation, WAC has been a strong advocate supporting Indigenous control over cultural heritage and the ways it gets presented to outsiders. Museum specialists, Indigenous people, academics, and students from 11 countries will participate in more than 60 presentations, video screenings, workshops, and demonstrations addressing Indigenous control of cultural heritage and its representation. Presentations by six IUPUI graduate students have been selected for inclusion in the event.

Keynote speakers will be Jessie Ryker-Crawford and Paul Tapsell. Ryker-Crawford (White Earth Anishinaabe) is chair of the Museum Studies Department of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her department trains Native students in the skills needed to operate tribal museums.

Tapsell is dean of Te Tumu, the School of Mãori, Pacific, and Indigenous studies at the University of Otago, Aoteoroa/New Zealand. He is internationally known for his provocative views on museum exhibit design and promotes inclusion of Indigenous voices in the exhibits that present native cultures.

Larry Zimmerman, Ph.D., professor of anthropology and museum studies and Public Scholar of Native American Representation in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, is on the staff of the Eiteljorg Museum and serves as organizer of the Inter-Congress.

“With more than three decades of museum experience, I have seen very frank discussions when American Indians and other Indigenous people are misrepresented,” Zimmerman says. “Museums work best when they collaborate with Indigenous people as full partners in the process of producing exhibits and programs. Discussions at this Inter-Congress should make working together easier and more productive.”

The academic sessions will end in time for the delegates to attend the Eiteljorg Museum’s Indian Market and Festival, June 25-26, 2011, in Military Park, 100 N. West St. Delegates will be able to visit with artists, see demonstrations, hear contemporary and traditional music, and be part of an event that demonstrates “best practice” in relationships between Indigenous people and museums.

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