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Keywords:

  • tribal museums;
  • museum exhibits;
  • collaboration;
  • White Mountain Apache

ABSTRACT

As a legacy of the colonialist history of anthropology, dominant-society museums hold large collections of material objects from Native American communities. At the same time, the cultural and historical knowledge necessary to meaningfully exhibit those objects largely exists in the objects' communities of origin. Non-native museums have utilized indigenous consultants to deepen the interpretive value of their exhibitions, but with limited reciprocity to source communities. At the same time, tribal communities have adopted and adapted the Western concept of the museum to meet heritage preservation and perpetuation goals, but largely without the wealth of material objects held by nontribal institutions. This article examines this history through the example of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. It concludes with a call for dominant-society museums to move beyond the current model of tribal collaboration in exhibit development to one of full reciprocity, in which both tribal and nontribal museums and communities fully contribute to and benefit from exhibitions.