Susan Cooper And Native Activism Essay

1757 words - 7 pages

In her book Spirited Encounters, Cooper mentioned “during her young adult life and through her museum career, she is interested in “Native activism,” especially “protests that focused on museums” (xv). According to her, Native Americans were protesting the museums in hoping that museums would give them back items that were once belong to them and their ancestors. For example, Native Americans’ request to get back Alcatraz Island from the government was denied even though it was supposed to be theirs from the beginning (8). Protesters also seek to correct the false information regarding Native Americans’ life that was being display at the museums (information assumed “correct” for years). Furthermore, museums seemed to be ignoring the Native Americans’ point of view regarding the subject matters. Cooper noted that museums told stories based exclusively on non-Indian’s point of view. The public’s prefers to view the colonists as heroes, while the Native Americans are foes (3). Museums made Native Americans seem as if they are “eternally of the past and irrelevant to America’s continuing history and current times” (4). For example, Cooper was once questioned by a many museum visitors on whether she is a real American Indian or not. They “assumed that indigenous people lived simple, untutored lives without bodies of knowledge” since their knowledge of math and sciences were rarely told to the public (4). In addition, Native Americans were “continually frustrated” by the fact that they are unable to protect their ancestor’s remains (v). The sights of a human remain being exposed to the public is viewed to be inappropriate and unacceptable to Native Americans. When Cooper took her children to the children’s museum to learn about Native American materials, she was horrified to find a skeleton of a local American Indian being displayed in an exhibit (xiii). She believes that “it was inappropriate and irreverent to expose [human remains] for public viewing” because they probably would not have allow others to dig up their remains and display them to the tourists (xii). America is long known to be a land of freedom by many people around the world. However, protestors are being viewed as un-American due to their protests against museums. To Cooper, protestors are, indeed, true Americans who voices their concerns (7).
2. For museums, protests result in “loss of grant awards, donations, memberships, object loans, entrance fees, sales, and volunteer hours” (11). As a preventative, museums hired Native Americans as staff members and consultants, but their ideas are often ignore or rejected (11). Protestors have changed museum’s behavior, practices, and thinking is many ways, both positively and negatively. At first, museums refuse to return sacred objects to Native American, saying that American Indians gave or sold these items to museums. The truth is that some objects were stolen from American Indians as a punishment for practicing their...

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