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In 1991 i was invited to give a speech at the Jewish Museum Association.  I was at the time the Deputy Assistant Director for the National Museum of the American Indian and involved in the first twelve consultations with the American Indian Community.  I facilitated the meetingS but did not participate in the content. 

Goerge Horse Capture, Rena Swentzel, and Rick Hill accompanied me and made sure that I did not do anything too culturally awful. These consultation changed the view I had about museums forever and gave me a kind of credibility ever after with specific cultural groups world wide.  The big takeaways for me were:

  • The spiritual and rational world both had much to offer and while not compatible I had an ability to keep both functioning simultaneously.  The Indians called it “A foot in two worlds”.
  • Objects were not without power or soul and could no longer be treated as inanimate.
  • The decendants of the makers had a right to participate in the access to the object by others outside the tribe.
  • Museums did not have carte blance to do whatever they wanted with native material even if they owned it.

I am grateful to the Native community for being so generous to me.  Being a Jew I understood I too came from a tribe and had many similar beliefs which I had not recognized previously.  A copy of the paper that I wrote for that occasion is attached.