Unwrapping Circumpolar People’s Culture: Historical and Political Ramifications of Collecting Indigenous Artifacts, Particularly for Museum Display

By Gerry Tierney.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In this paper I will discuss the early explorers to Alaska and their practice of collecting cultural artifacts for their own personal collections, or those of major museums in their home country. This paper will review the historical, political and ethical ramifications of collecting artifacts in order to store or display in museums throughout the world, more often than not in countries far removed from their origins. The paper will focus on Inupiat artifacts from Alaska, United States, with emphasis placed on cultural items collected by Rasmussen. The discussion will include indigenous Inupiat views regarding the relocation of their ancestral remains and cultural artifacts. Also discussed will be the justification of keeping cultural items in spite of increasing demand for their return to home villages.

Keywords: Alaska Inuit (Inupiat), Museum Collections, Indigenous Culture

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.31-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 551.588KB).

Dr. Gerry Tierney

Professor, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Webster University, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Professor Tierney is a Cultural, Applied Anthropologist whose major research interests are in the area of Alaska Native Culture (both urban and rural), including diverse topics such as arts & crafts, and alcohol abuse. Professor Tierney has taught classes in Anthropology and Criminal Justice in Japan, Thailand, Austria, and the United Kingdom, as well as Anchorage, Alaska. Professor Tierney served as the Aids Prevention Coordinator for Alaska Natives in 1989. She lived and conducted research among Alaska Natives for many years.


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