The editors of Indian Country Today discuss this week that the national Indian museum is at a crossroads:
“The National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is celebrating its third year of operation, having completed its initial building phase and entering a time of transition between leaders. Not only do the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere look to the NMAI to represent their voices, but other museums, governments and the non-Indian general public have interests in the NMAI’s future vision and programming. The museum will play a significant role in representing Native voices to the general public, while assisting Native communities by way of its so-called ”fourth museum” to reclaim and renew their own cultures, histories and futures.
The national Indian museum will face many of its greatest challenges in the years ahead. What role will the NMAI serve by representing Native voices to the general non-indigenous public, museum world and policy-makers? At a reception following the Native Voices media conference hosted by Pechanga and sponsored by the NMAI last week, outgoing museum director W. Richard West introduced the trailer for ”Broken Promises: Indian Trust,” a documentary that examines the history of the strained relationship between American Indians and the federal government. The museum’s support of the film is an example of the commitment to educate both Native and non-Native audiences using various media. Like films and television shows, the NMAI is a window to a large non-indigenous audience, and can educate and influence perceptions and understanding of Native identities, histories and cultures.”Â Â