National Native Museum Training Program

Establishing a Tribal Museum

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Stacey Halfmoon is a member of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma.  She has been the Director of Community Outreach and Public Programs for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City, Okla., since 2007.  She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences Degree in Anthropology and began working for the Caddo Nation’s Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) program shortly thereafter (2004) where she continued to serve in many cultural capacities until 2004.  Stacey was instrumental in the tribe’s first repatriation of ancestral remains and constructing the tribe’s first repatriation cemetery.  She has since served as Senior Tribal Liaison for the U.S. Department of Defense, where she managed a $10 million dollar Indian lands cleanup program.  In 2005, Stacey was appointed Interim Director of the Caddo Heritage Museum and has served on the Caddo Nation Heritage Museum Board of Trustees since 2004.  She also serves on the Oklahoma Museums Association Board of Directors.

Claudia Nicholson is Executive Director of the North Star Museum of Boy Scouting and Girl Scouting in North St. Paul, Minn.  Claudia began her career in museums at the National Archives in Washington, DC.  After earning her Master's Degree in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, she became Curator of Collections for the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre.  While there, she worked with a Native American advisory committee to create a groundbreaking exhibit on Sioux life in South Dakota.  After seven years, she moved to St. Paul to become a curator at the Minnesota Historical Society.  She has 32 years experience in museums and historical organizations.

Description:  Establishing a Tribal museum – or even just expanding or enhancing one – can be quite daunting.  It is a job that demands a clear community vision and an organized approach, which make a tremendous difference for the museum’s future.  Establishing a Tribal Museum will provide the facts and comprehensive advice you need to undertake this endeavor.  This includes considering how your Tribe’s museum can get the community and financial support it needs.  The course walks students through specific steps and considerations to clarify the process of establishing and maintaining a successful Tribal museum.  These steps include writing a mission statement, understanding community expectations, and establishing a collections policy.  Students will explore the potential role of the museum within their Native community and key considerations when establishing a tribal museum.  Topics include collections care, community expectations and benefit, registration, the role of traditional culture and language within the museum setting, exhibitions, conservation, staffing and financial management.


  1. First Steps: Community Input – What will our museum do/be?  Develop Purpose, Incorporation, Bylaws
  2. Organizing: Forming Your Group What is the role of the museum  in the community? Structure? Governance: Mission Statement, Policies,  Procedures, Leadership Structure (Board of Directors, etc)
  3. Financial Management: Budgets, Fundraising, Endowments, Cash  Flow
  4. Location: Buildings, Grounds, Accessibility
  5. Collection: Obtaining, Classifying, Registering, Accessioning;  No collection
  6. Staffing: Volunteers, Employees, Docents
  7. Storage: Methods, Integrity, Security, Traditional methods  
  8. Exhibits: Planning, Spaces, Viewer Dynamics, Security, Use of  Native Language & Concepts
  9. Museum Programming: Exploring opportunities to work with  Elders, Community involvement, Using artifacts, Being of benefit to the  community, Being of benefit to the non-native community (education)
Required Textbook:  Starting Right: A Basic Guide to Museum Planning (American Association for State and Local History Book Series) by Gerald George and Cindy Sherrell-Leo, Altamira Press 1986 (provided to participants)

Detailed Agenda: Coming soon

Course Dates:  May 31 - Jun 25, 2011

Application Deadline:  May 20, 2011

Registration Fee:  $150

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