Susan Cooper and Native Activism

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In her book Spirited Encounters, Cooper mentioned “during her young adult life and through her museum career, she is interested in “Native activism,” especially “protests that focused on museums” (xv). According to her, Native Americans were protesting the museums in hoping that museums would give them back items that were once belong to them and their ancestors. For example, Native Americans’ request to get back Alcatraz Island from the government was denied even though it was supposed to be theirs from the beginning (8). Protesters also seek to correct the false information regarding Native Americans’ life that was being display at the museums (information assumed “correct” for years). Furthermore, museums seemed to be ignoring the…show more content…
To Native Americans, some of the objects were “created by their makers with the intent that the objects would disintegrate naturally,” so it is wrong to try to preserve those objects (67). Moreover, Native Americans think that if the objects were to be return to them, then it is not right for museums to tell them how to take care of the objects (72). A successful protest, for example, is the protest against exhibits that were being set up in celebration of Columbus Quincentenary. While Columbus is view as “hero” in many American’s eyes, he left Native Americans with a painful memory of enslaving and the bad treatment from the Colonists. In protesting to stop the celebration, protestors also hoped to re-educate the public about Columbus’ arrival in the Natives’ point of view (109-113). Due to these protests, many exhibitions were canceled. The exhibition, Seed of Change at the National Museum of Natural History tried to avoid the discussion of Columbus by focusing on things rather than people (117). 3. NAGPRA specifies that American Indians can regain their materials from institution that receives federal funds as long as they can provide proofs that those items were taken from them without their approval (63). This law requires that federally funded institutions must “inventory their collections and send reports of the inventories” to the tribal groups (63). When a tribe recognizes an item that belongs to them, they can request for the
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