Conference Season

Contributed by Marla Taylor

October/November is conference season!  I was an active participant in multiple conferences over the past couple months and really enjoyed connecting with colleagues after the worst of COVID.

First, I attended the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA) 8th Annual Repatriation Conference in New Buffalo, Michigan.  The conference “brings together Native Nations, museums, artists, spiritual leaders, academics, lawyers, federal and state agencies, international institutions, collectors and others to work together to reactivate relationships with the past to create a world where diverse Native cultures and values are lived, protected and respected.”

It was a fantastic experience.  The Repatriation Conference is a space where I greeted so many colleagues with hugs and made new and important connections.  The speakers shared meaningful perspectives and insights and I am proud to be a part of that community.  Oh, and the sunrise ceremony by the host Pokagon Band of Potawatomi was an invigorating way to start the day!

The second conference (only one week later!) was the 2022 International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums hosted by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) in Temecula, California.  I love ATALM as an experience.  I learn so much from those sessions and surrounding myself with innovate professionals, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who work so hard to prioritize Indigenous voices and perspectives.  A couple of shout-outs to my favorite presentations – Traditional plant-based methods for pest control and Your Neighborhood Museum.

At both the Repatriation Conference and ATALM, I was a presenter and shared the work that colleagues and I have done to create the Indigenous Collections Care (ICC) Working Group and Guide.  The ICC is a group of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous museum professionals and academics, Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, collections staff, and NAGPRA coordinators who are working to create a Guide as a reference tool for people who interact regularly with Native American collections.  The Guide will offer scalable considerations and templates for implementation, advocacy, and creation of policies and procedures for all areas of collections stewardship.  This project has been a major focus of mine over the past couple years and I am proud to share our work with the broader community.

The third and final conference in my marathon was the New England Museum Association 2022 Annual Conference.  Now, I was admittedly a little exhausted after traveling from New Hampshire to Michigan to New Hampshire to California and back home to New Hampshire so I only attended NEMA for a day to be a speaker.  This session was slightly different and focused on demystifying decolonization/Indigenizing museum collections stewardship.  I was joined by colleagues from the Boston Children’s Museum and The Trustees of the Reservation for this conversation.  We received positive feedback from everyone and I hope it inspired someone to take a step forward in this work.

While I really did love the opportunity to connect with other professionals, I am happy to be done with conferences for the year!  And I have to admit, I am already planning my schedule for 2023…

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