C2C Care Course: Building Collaborations Between Museums and Indigenous Communities

Museums and indigenous communities are increasingly seeking to engage in collaborative working relationships. However, resources to help guide this work have been lacking. In response to this need, the Guidelines for Collaboration (www.guidelinesforcollaboration.info) was developed over a period of several years with the participation of over 50 Native and non-Native museum professionals, scholars, and artists.

With the Guidelines as the main reference, this course will walk participants through the process of building positive foundations of mutual respect and trust, essential to collaborative work. Topics will be co-presented by a diverse group of museum professionals and artists experienced in collaborative museum work. Further, course participants will learn how to adapt the Guidelines to their own work.

As the conservation of cultural heritage continues to evolve toward a more humanist practice, the Guidelines for Collaboration offers a helpful reference. Sessions will allow time for questions and discussion.

Upon completion of the course, participants will

  • Have the tools they need to successfully collaborate with Native communities
  • Understand how to adapt the Guidelines for Collaboration to their own work
  • Know how to document collaborative work
  • Have suggestions on where to turn for financial support for collaborative projects with Native communities

Our Course Coordinator is Landis Smith, Co-facilitator, Guidelines for Collaboration, Indian Arts Research Center, School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, NM

Course Schedule 

Webinar 1: Why collaborate?  Building a foundation for working together.
September 30, 2021 1:00pm-2:30pm ET 

This course will begin with a brief introduction to the Indian Arts Research Center (IARC) at the School for Advanced Research (SAR), sponsor of the Guidelines for Collaboration. This opening session will then explore the benefits of collaborative work for conservation and stewardship of Indigenous collections.  Ideas for collaboration will be shared and discussed in a safe space to build trust and unityInstructors will facilitate a conversation about ways to collaborate, including identifying and reaching out to appropriate partners.


  • Kelly McHugh, Conservator/Collections Manager, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)
  • Martina Dawley (Hualapai/Diné) Director, Hualapai Department of Cultural Resources

Webinar 2: Planning and implementing collaborative work.October 7, 2021 1:00pm-2:30pm ET

Instructors will discuss the ways in which museums and communities can prepare for working together to help ensure positive outcomes. Topics will include how to create a welcoming environment, the importance of a flexible agenda and accommodating cultural needs and protocols.


  • Melissa Shaginoff (Dena’ina), Curator/artist
  • Dawn Biddison, Curator, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, Alaska branch

Webinar 3: Critical considerations in building collaborations. October 14, 2021 1:00pm-2:30pm ET

Instructors will discuss important considerations in collaborative work as well as ideas for indigenizing museum spaces and the integration of traditional care practices.


  • Tessie Naranjo, PhD (Santa Clara Pueblo), scholar, curator, professor, language preservation.
  • Eliza Naranjo Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo), artist, teacher.
  • Landis Smith, Co-facilitator, Guidelines for Collaboration, Indian Arts Research Center, School for Advanced Research

Webinar 4: After the museum visit: Ongoing relationships; documentation of collaborative work. October 21, 2021 1:00pm-2:30pm ET

Following museum collections visits by tribal community members, there is generally documentation of the visit as well as new information generated. Who owns this documentation, what are the respect and privacy issues? How should this documentation be maintained?


  • Ellen Pearlstein, Professor/Conservator, UCLA/Getty Graduate Program in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage
  • Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy), Director of Education, Akomawt Educational Initiative

Webinar 5: Wrap-up Discussion and Funding. October 28, 2021 1:00-2:30pm ET

This session is in two parts:

  • Part 1: Funding opportunities and how to structure project proposals.
  • Part 2: Course wrap-up with questions and answers.


  • Nancy Odegaard PhD, Head of Preservation Emerita, Arizona State Museum 
  • Tony Chavarria (Santa Clara Pueblo), Curator, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
  • Mark Fietl, Senior Program Officer, Institute of Museum and Library Services

This self-study program is presented as a series of recordings of a live course offered September 30th – October 28th, 2021. Please note that any assignments are designed for enrichment only and will not be reviewed.

Registration Fee: FREE

Connecting to Collections Care courses are made possible in part by generous support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.