Mediating Indigenous voice in the museum: Narratives of place, land, and environment in new exhibition practice
As popular Indigenous museums have proliferated globally, the question of voice has become as important as the question of truth. This article explores the discourse of Indigenous voice and describes its intersections with media and the representation of Indigenous place in new exhibition practice. It suggests that while the discourse of Indigenous voice appears in many new exhibits, it varies in each particular site, leading to different possibilities for articulating Indigenous connections with land and environment. This article focuses on the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington D.C., the Canadian Museum of Civilization's First Peoples Hall, and the Chicago Field Museum's Ancient Americas exhibit, three popular, media-rich sites emerging in the twenty-first century. While the NMAI and First Peoples Hall center on conveying a sense of contemporary Indigenous voice, Ancient Americas focuses on third person, scientific accounts of the past. The exhibit emphasizes expert interpretations of Indigenous movement across land over time rather than first person, Indigenous narratives tracing connections with place. Therefore, Ancient Americas produces less narrative possibilities for addressing particular Indigenous concerns over contemporary environmental disruptions. This article explores the resulting tensions and suggests that variations in orientation toward Indigenous voice can shape opportunities for engaging different conceptions of land and environment.
|Keywords||Environment, First Peoples, Indigenous, Land, Media, Museums, Place, Voice|
Brady, M. (2011). Mediating Indigenous voice in the museum: Narratives of place, land, and environment in new exhibition practice. Environmental Communication, 5(2), 202–220. doi:10.1080/17524032.2011.562649