For a few and select students and/or early career professionals like myself, Day 2 of the CMA Conference began in a closed session titled “Collaborating for Change.” There, in a safe and supportive environment, participants shared issues and brainstormed ideas for change. My biggest takeaway from the session as an emerging indigenous scholar and museum professional is that no single person is alone with their problems.
About midday, some of the other staff from SAR’s Indian Arts Research Center and myself attended the Artist Roundtable: “Decolonial Gaps in Endemically Colonial Spaces: Photography and Photographers in Archives and Museums.” During the session, I was in awe of the Native photographers’ and their work to better their own communities through the tool of photography. I particularly enjoyed Will Wilson (Diné) and Raphael Begay (Diné) who both work to reinterpret how Native peoples and their lives are photographed.
The rest of the day was spent at the famed Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). Before dinner, attendees and myself heard from academics and museum professionals who spoke about their projects (and work) at their home institutions, all of which seemed to aid in the betterment of indigenous communities’ relationships to historically colonial institutions like schools and museums. This included notes from Porter Swentzell (Santa Clara Pueblo, IAIA) about his place-based education and Diane Bird (Santo Domingo Pueblo, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology) who explained her efforts connect non-native researchers with tribal communities to ensure accuracy in the spread of information. Lastly, we all had the opportunity to enter the studios of two amazing IAIA student artists, Jodi Webster (Ho-Chunk jeweler/3D laser artist) and Edwin Neel (Kwakwaka’wakw woodworking artist).
Askwali to the nineteen Pueblo communities of O’gha Po’oge for hosting me and the rest of the CMA community.
-Erin Monique Grant (Colorado River Indian Tribes), Anne Ray Intern, Indian Arts Research Center, School for Advanced Research