Museum & Society (Jul 2013)

Wag(er)ing Histories, Staking Territories: Exhibiting Sovereignty in Native America

  • John Bodinger de Uriarte,
  • Melissa Biggs

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 2
pp. 122 – 157


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Based on research carried out in 2009–2010, this article suggests that gaming revenues created new possibilities for Native peoples to take control of their own public histories as expressions of cultural and political sovereignty. It recognizes museums and cultural centers as parallel spaces for cultural self-representation. Casino-generated funds allow many tribal nations to create or expand existing exhibitionary spaces for repatriated objects—including museums, casinos, resorts, and public attractions—that publicly articulate stories about history, identity, and the practice(s) of sovereignty. Seemingly disparate spaces—casinos thematic and generic, museums old and new, garden and memorial sites, village greens and hotel lobbies—can best be understood as an array of responses to the challenges of articulating Native identities to mostly non-Native publics. Such sites exemplify particular strategies of Native curation in a variety of spaces actively shaped for public attention.