Toward a Shared Native American/Western Heritage

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  • Title: Toward a Shared Native American/Western Heritage: A Case Study of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
  • Author(s): Megan True
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Inclusive Museum
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum
  • Keywords: Collections, Curators, Native Americans, American West, Community Collaboration, New Western History
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 1835-2014 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1835-2022 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v12i03/15-31
  • Citation: True, Megan . 2019. "Toward a Shared Native American/Western Heritage: A Case Study of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art." The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum 12 (3): 15-31. doi:10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v12i03/15-31.
  • Extent: 17 pages

Abstract

The Eiteljorg Museum is unique in that it displays Western American and Native American art within the same space. Some scholars may argue that this combination only reinforces the colonial mindset; the voices of Native Americans will be drowned out by the more dominant voices of the white settlers of the West, but the Eiteljorg works to ensure that none of the diverse perspectives of the American West are silenced. Soon after the museum opened, they realized that they had a responsibility to teach the public about the local Native American communities. They created Native American advisory groups to work with them on exhibitions and established a lasting relationship with the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana. They worked to create the exhibition “Mihtohseenionki: the People’s Place,” a gallery that tells the history of several Native tribes in Indiana in their own words. The combination of Native American and Western art at the Eiteljorg can be difficult because of the problematic nature of some Western American art. However, the museum ensures that the issues, including the stereotypical representations of Native Americans, Manifest Destiny, and the romanticizing of the Frontier are brought to attention instead of normalized and ignored through the use of New Western History. This article will highlight how the museum addresses these issues through analysis of the Mihtohseenionki and Western American galleries.