"Lost and Lonesome": Literary Reflections on Museums and the Roles of Relics

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					"Lost and Lonesome": Literary Reflections on Museums and the Roles of Relics
Lee Schweninger
American India
				
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Description: Vizenor repudiates colonialism and ethnocentric assumptions which he believes underlie the practice of Indian anthropology, particularly the practice of raising to the level of ultimate explicator recorders of culture on the single basis of their being themselves from an "other," dominant and supposedly superior culture.2 Through comedy and comic reversals Vizenor also asks his readers and viewers to reconsider the pat assumptions and the ethnocentric worldviews that proscribe the bones and material culture of one ethnic group to museum-piece status while members of another ethnic group - that of Western Europeans and of Western European descent in this context - remain free, in Vizenor's language, of their tribal pasts. 8 More recently, however, asserts Henry Sockbeson, attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, archeologists and tribes have much the same interests, that of protecting sacred and other important American Indian objects.9 But art dealers and museum collectors continue to argue that institutions have a clear mandate to acquire, study, and preserve items of cultural significance, and it is the very sacredness of such items that makes them significant.\n He's quieter now, and I can feel the rage begin to drain away.
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