History museum talks to focus on indigenous anthropology

Deana Dartt

The UO’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History will present its 24th annual Fall Archaeology Talks this month. Part of the statewide Oregon Archaeology Celebration held in October, the 2017 series will focus on Native American scholarship and practice in cultural and museum studies.

The series kicks off Friday, Oct. 13, with a talk by anthropologist Jason Younker, UO assistant vice president and advisor to the president on sovereignty and government-to-government relations. The talk, “Potlatch and The Southwest Oregon Research Project,” will tell the story of four Coquille Tribal members who in 1995 uncovered a trove of records of Coquille history, language and culture archived in Washington, D.C.

“What happened next changed Oregon’s history,” said Younker, a Coquille tribal member who will discuss the project’s implications for Oregon Native American empowerment.

On Oct. 20, anthropologist, curator and activist Deana Dartt, a Chumash tribal member, will present “Indigenizing Curatorial Practice.” Formerly the curator of Native American art at the Portland Art Museum, Dartt will explore the ways that American cultural museums reproduce historic European-American narratives.

The talk will examine strategies for interrupting those narratives and applying native peoples’ perspectives across every facet of the museum.      

“This year’s talks have a more contemporary focus than in years past,” said archaeologist Lauren Willis, who organized the series. “The speakers will explore themes of social justice and Native American empowerment while bringing traditional and indigenous practices to the forefront of curatorial conversations.”

Both talks will take place at the museum, 1680 E. 15th Ave., at 5:30 p.m. The talks are free and open to the public.

—By Hannah Kruse, Museum of Natural and Cultural History