Why museums?

We believe museums have the power to change the way people think, feel and operate in the world. Maybe that’s giving them too much credit, but as scholars of museums studies we have seen endless examples where museums have facilitated real transformation of thought. For this reason alone, these institutions have immense power. In addition, they hold the cultural treasures of the world and the power and privilege to use sacred and ancestral pieces to tell the stories of descendent communities–mostly, out of the control of those communities. For Native people, those materials are alive. In many cases objects were stolen or acquired during times of desperation–objects that should never have left tribal lands. Many believe that in order to restore balance in our communities, we must liberate the ancestors and bring them back into contact with their descendents. Where repatriation is untenable, we look for ways to restore connection through education, culturally relevant exhibition and other reciprocal means.