Bringing it home: instituting culture, claiming history, and managing change in a plateau tribal museum
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation considers the Native North American repatriation movement as a sociocultural study, in which traditional knowledge and other information accompany returns to tribes. I engage this process with the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Tribes of northeastern Oregon (the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation) as they present, preserve, and perpetuate tribal history and culture at their museum, Tamástslikt Cultural Institute. I also explore self-representation and Native participation at the Pendleton Round-Up rodeo and "wild west" pageant in the neighboring town of Pendleton, Oregon. Investigating the connectivity between repatriation, collaboration, and representation, I ask how repatriation defines itself beyond the return of objects of cultural patrimony to influence the development of a tribal cultural and historical narrative. I argue that newly developed tribal perspectives are therefore a bi-product of repatriation. By presenting tribal perspectives based in negotiation, repatriation thus leads to self-representation via collaborative processes. Collaborative processes allow for anthropological research and knowledge to be shared, accessed, and controlled by Native communities, thus allowing for multiple forms of repatriation to manifest. Working within a collaborative framework based primarily in grounded and emergent theory, I also brought theories of the diaspora, historical memory, and trauma to bear on my research in hopes of exploring how return is further complicated in both a literal and a figurative sense. I am informed by Native American and Cultural Studies, yet rather than rejecting or discarding the historical relationship of contact between Anthropology and Native America, this dissertation favors a discussion of changes and adjustments within it. My work contributes to the anthropological literature on tribal museums and representation, and to new understandings of the repatriation of identity and knowledge. I also hope to contribute to growing collaborative action/advocacy-based ethnographic models for conducting research with Native North Americans. An applied and collaborative methodology was employed as I assisted in realizing projects initiated by the Tribes' and operating within a particular Native worldview, spanning from curation to interpretation, at Tamástslikt. While remaining separate and distinct, my own dissertation project was nevertheless structured, informed, and achieved alongside, and in conjunction with, tribally controlled projects.