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Tuesday, May 17 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
(Objects) Facing the past for action in the future: Cultural survival in Native America

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The unimaginable devastation of both natural and man-made disasters in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Japan, Syria, and New Orleans mobilized the cultural heritage preservation community worldwide and generated international support. Media outlets provided a zoom lens to these tragedies, keeping them in the forefront of our minds. The shock at seeing thousand year old structures crumble to the ground due to terrorist activity, at the very minimum makes our stomachs turn.

Organizations like UNESCO, the US State Department Cultural Heritage Center, the Smithsonian Institution and the American Institute for Conservation are dedicated to protecting and preserving the world’s cultural heritage and have been critical in protection, recovery and preservation efforts.  While these initiatives are vital and should be applauded I take pause in wondering what is going to happen in places like Haiti, Iraq or Syria when another crisis takes over or the funding ceases to exist?

This question is generated from my experience as a conservator at the National Museum of the American Indian. War, terrorism, and cultural disaster have affected Native people in our nation for over five hundred years. Buildings are crumbling in our own back yard, and Native communities are struggling, but determined, to protect, recover and preserve their cultural record.  I have witness first-hand the urgency Native people feel at the prospect of losing their cultural material. Organizations like IMLS, NEH and the National Trust for Historic Preservation support community preservation initiatives, but perhaps the greatest mobilization is happening within Native America itself through organizations like the Association for Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums.

This presentation will aim at highlighting the cultural crisis that exists in our nation as a result of the ripple effect of colonization, and well-intended, but mis-guided interventions.  It challenges us as a profession to think about our current and future actions. Outrage and concern is justified at the activities happening currently in places of turmoil around the globe, but where is the concern for the valuable heritage being lost here?

Speakers
KM

Kelly McHugh

Objects Conservator, National National Museum of the American Indian
Kelly McHugh is an objects conservator at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). She began working for the museum in 1996 in New York, based at the museum's former storage facility in the Bronx. There she participated in a survey of the over 800,000 objects in NMAI's collection, prior to the collections move to the Cultural Resources Center (CRC) in Maryland. Much of her career has been focused on ways to carry out a collaborative... Read More →


Tuesday May 17, 2016 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Room 516 AB


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