Spring speaker series focuses on Indigenous voices in museums

· 3 min read

Spring speaker series focuses on Indigenous voices in museums

Color photos of Amy Lonetree, Patricia Norby and Julia Lafreniere on a color campus background
(From left) Amy Lonetree, Patricia Norby and Julia Lafreniere

A new speaker series at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Center for Great Plains Studies and Great Plains Art Museum will feature Indigenous museum and cultural professionals working to elevate Native expression in the field.

Traditionally, museums have been tasked with interpreting history and culture with a focus on Eurocentric narratives and artworks that can misrepresent Indigenous peoples. In recent years, Indigenous curators, artists and community members have worked with museums to elevate Native culture and history.

The series is part of “Walking in the Footsteps of our Ancestors: Re-Indigenizing Southeast Nebraska,” a new project at the center funded by the Mellon Foundation.

The series kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 25 with Amy Lonetree, who will give the talk “Decolonizing Museums and Memorials: Reclaiming Narratives and Centering Indigenous Survivance.” Lonetree is an enrolled citizen of the Ho-Chunk Nation and a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received her doctoral degree in ethnic studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and her scholarly research focuses on 20th century Native American history, public history, visual culture studies and museum studies. The talk will consider the ongoing project of Indigenizing museums and the challenges of reclaiming cultural belongings in colonial institutions.

Other talks in the series are:

  • Feb. 12, 5:30 p.m.: Patricia Norby (Purépecha), associate curator of Native American art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, will talk about her curatorial work that foregrounds Indigenous perspectives and experiences.

  • March 5, 5:30 p.m.: Julia Lafreniere (Michif and Anishinaabe from Treaty 4 territory in Manitoba) will discuss her work as the head of Indigenous Ways and Equity at the Winnipeg Art Gallery–Qaumajuq and the Artworks Renaming Initiative, which addresses problematic pieces by giving new names to identified artworks with the assistance of Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers and language keepers.

Each event includes a reception with light refreshments in the museum lobby starting at 5 p.m. The series is free and open to the public. Each talk will be livestreamed and recorded. The Center for Great Plains Studies and Great Plains Art Museum are located at 1155 Q St. in downtown Lincoln.

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