Connecting to Collections Care Online Community

Native American Headdress: Should we even go there?

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    • #134253
      Katie Adams

      We just received a potential donation of an Indian headdress. The local donor who is cleaning out for a move, received the piece as a gift about 20 years ago and knows no more about it. They’ve had it on display in their home.
      Our mission and collection plan dictates that objects need to have a connection to our local area history. I’m assuming this headdress is lacking in that connection. I have not contacted our collection committee, but it has been suggested that we take the piece into our “education” collection, where the local connection requirement is less stringent. To me, taking any Native American piece without a known provenience and history is not a good idea. We do not know about how the item was acquired or how it should (or shouldn’t) be displayed.
      Does anyone know how I can find out a tribal connection? Any suggestions about taking such an unknown and potentially questionable artifact into a museum’s collection that was unsolicited?
      Katie Adams
      Tread of Pioneers Museum

    • #134258


      You might try contacting the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums'(ATLAM): They might know of someone to contact regarding the possible association for the headdress. There is the added complication that it may be something made “for the trade.”


      • #134259
        Katie Adams

        Thanks Susan – that’s a good tip!

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