Descendant Communities

AMNH collaborative projects with indigenous peoples throughout the world.

Tohono O'odham Nation Repatriation (2021)

In August 2021, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), Division of Anthropology, welcomed five representatives from the Tohono O’odham Nation (formerly known as “Papago”) to complete the repatriation of 126 items from the ethnographic collection. The delegation members included: Cultural Affairs Specialist, Samuel Fayuant; Governmental Affairs Assistant, Jesse Navarro; Gu Achi District Senior Services Coordinator, Luterio Lopez; Medicine Man, Johnny Sam; and Cultural Preservation Committee Vice-Chairman, Louis Lopez.

Tohono O’odham Nation representatives in the AMNH’s anthropology collections.
Tohono O’odham Nation representatives in the AMNH’s anthropology collections. Left to right: Louis Lopez, Jesse Navarro, Samuel Fayuant, Johnny Sam, and Luterio Lopez.
D. Finnin/©AMNH


Reconstruction of the Mo5ol-Uraha of the Sakha People of Siberia (2020)

Sakha craftsmen have long desired to reconstruct the Sakha uraha in its original historical form. In 2017, a memorandum of understanding between the Design Studio "Uran," Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the AMNH enabled representatives of “Uran”, including director Vyacheslav Yaroyev, to visit AMNH and study the uraha parts that Jochelson collected more than a hundred years ago as well as written records, photographs, and other related materials preserved in the museum's storerooms and archives.

Tohono O'odham Nation Delegation Visits the AMNH (2019)

The American Museum of Natural History, Division of Anthropology, welcomed six representatives from the Tohono O'odham Nation (formerly known as "Papago"). This visit was funded by a National Park Service Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act consultation grant.

Tohono O'odham Nation
Tohono O'odham Nation representatives visit the AMNH's anthropology collections. Left to right: Anthony Garcia, Mary Lucy Zazueta, Timothy Antone, Marlakay Henry, Tommy Carlos, and Samuel Fayuant.
M. Shanley/©AMNH

Stk'emlupsemc Te Secwépemc First Nation Delegation Visits AMNH (2019)

The American Museum of Natural History, Division of Anthropology, welcomed representatives of the Stk'emlupsemc te Secwépemc (Secwépemc) First Nation from Kamloops, Canada. This visit marks the first time that a Stk'emlupsemc te Secwépemc delegation has visited the AMNH and continues a series of open and productive dialogues between First Nation communities and the Museum.

Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwépemc representatives visit the AMNH’s anthropology collections, which includes plaster casts of known Secwépemc individuals collected during the Jesup Expedition. Left to right: Ms. Jeanette Jules, Ms. Freda Jules, Chief Dr. Ronald Ignace, Dr. Marianne Ignace.
R. Mickens/©AMNH

Tesuque Delegation Visit AMNH (2018)

The American Museum of Natural History, Division of Anthropology, welcomed representatives of the Pueblo of Tesuque from north central New Mexico. The delegation came to AMNH to view Tesuque ethnographic pieces, review historical photographs held in the Special Collections Library, and plan for potential repatriation claims under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

Pueblo of Tesuque representatives visit the AMNH’s anthropology collections. Left to right: Joseph Herrera, Michael Vigil, Leland Vigil, Bernard Mora, Mark Mitchell, and Larry Samuel
R. Mickens/©AMNH

Testimony for Hopi Tribe (2018)

On November 26, 2018, Curator Peter Whiteley testified in Maricopa County Superior Court, Arizona, for the Hopi Tribe in a case to determine water rights in the Little Colorado River watershed.

Testimony for Hopi tribe
Little Colorado River Adjudication Trial, November 26, 2018. Front row: Alverna Poneoma (Sipaulovi Village Hopi Tribal Council [HTC] Representative); Violet Sinquah (Shungopavi Village Community Member); Rosa Honanie (Sipaulovi Village HTC Representative);  Dorma Sinquah (Executive Director Hopi Tribe); Romalita Laban (Managing Editor Hopi Tutuveni);  Colin Campbell (Hopi Tribe’s attorney). Middle row: Bruce Fredericks (Upper Moencopi Village HTC Representative); Albert T. Sinquah (First Mesa Consolidated Villages HTC Representative); Bruce Talawyma (Chief of Staff Hopi Chairman’s Office); Timothy Nuvangyaoma (Hopi Tribal Chairman). Top row: Theresa A. Lomakema (Hopi Tribal Secretary); Clifford Qotsaquahu (Bacavi Village HTC Representative); Peter Whiteley (Expert Witness for Hopi Tribe).
Photo by Romalita Laban, Hopi Tutuveni

Tlingit Voices: a Bridge to New York and Beyond (2018)

On September 26 and 27, 2018, a group from AMNH traveled to Juneau, Alaska, to meet with Tlingit elders to discuss plans for the Tlingit section in the newly renovated Northwest Coast Hall.
This meeting was another step in our ongoing collaboration initiatives with Native communities and follows the major Convening hosted at AMNH in November 2017 and visits by core advisors throughout 2018.

juneau travel
Discussing themes and materials for the renovated hall. Counterclockwise: Ruth Demmert, Peter Whiteley, Margaret Dornfeld, Steve Henrikson, David Katzeek, Judith Ramos, Garfield George, George Bennett, Ray Wilson
A. Tjiong/©AMNH

Delaware Delegations Visit AMNH (2018)

The American Museum of Natural History, Division of Anthropology, welcomed representatives of the Delaware Nation, Oklahoma, the Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma, and the Stockbrridge-Munsee Community, Wisconsin, who came to the Museum to view Delaware ethnographic items, tour the Eastern Woodlands Hall and plan for upcoming repatriations under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

Brice Obermeyer, Larry Brooks, Nekole Alligood, Bradley Pecore, Homer Scott view Delaware ethnographic items.
Brice Obermeyer (Delaware Tribe), Larry Brooks (Delaware Tribe), Nekole Alligood (Delaware Nation), Bradley Pecore (Stockbridge-Munsee Community), and Homer Scott (Delaware Tribe).
M. Shanley/©AMNH

Pueblo Delegations Visit AMNH (2018)

The American Museum of Natural History, Division of Anthropology, welcomed delegations from the Pueblo of Acoma, Pueblo of San Felipe and Pueblo of Tesuque on a cultural mission.

Pueblos tribes members in front of the Museum's Chaco Canyon Case.
Pueblo tribes Portraits in front of the Chaco Canyon Case.
R. Mickens/© AMNH

Northwest Coast Hall Restoration (2017)

The Museum is launching a multi-year project to update, restore, and conserve the historic Northwest Coast Hall and to enrich the interpretation of the gallery's outstanding exhibits, working with Pacific Northwest Coast communities. The restoration project is expected to be completed in 2020, during the celebration of the Museum's 150th anniversary.

Chief's Chest Back to Haida Gwaii (2017)

A historic wooden Haida chest, AMNH Catalog No: 16/8802, acquired by the American Museum of Natural History in 1901, has recently returned on loan to Haida Gwaii off the coast of British Columbia in an innovative collaboration between the AMNH and the Haida Gwaii Museum at Kay Llnagaay.

Additional Resources: Museums: Repatriation, and Ownership (TVO: The Agenda with Steve Paikin)

Celebrate Pacific Northwest Cultures (2017)

AMNH invited visitors to experience the cultures represented in the iconic Hall of Northwest Coast Indians through a series of live activities guided by Museum volunteers and via telepresence robot with a virtual guide - Sean Young from the Haida Gwaii Museum.

Celebrate Pacific Northwest Coast Cultures
Kids get hands-on with artifacts at Celebrate Pacific Northwest Cultures.

Digital Totem (2016)

The Digital Totem is an interactive installation which brings contemporary Northwest Coast voices and new interpretation into this historic gallery with a touch-screen portal to the peoples, places, and sounds of the Pacific Northwest. To create the Digital Totem, the Museum worked closely with Northwest Coast collaborators and interviewed members of Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw, Haida, Nuu-chah-nulth, Musqueam, Gitxsan, Tlingit, and Tsimshian communities.

Reinterpreting the Northwest Coast Hall
Digital Totem

Artist in Residence (2015)


Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas brings Pacific Northwest Coast art to life through stories, illustrated books, animated films, and interactive artwork during a residency at the Museum. Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is a contemporary artist whose wide-ranging artistic practice explores themes of identity, environmentalism and the human condition. Influenced by both Haida iconography and contemporary Asian visual culture, he has created an artistic practice that crosses diverse cultures, generations, and disciplines in search of accessibility and engagement as a counterpoint to stratification and isolation.

Conservation of Siberian Collections (2014)

With the generous support of the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and The Stockman Family Foundation, anthropology conservators initiated a two year project in October, 2014 to examine, document, stabilize and rehouse portions of the museum’s Siberian ethnographic collection formed during the renown Jesup North Pacific Expedition of 1897-1902, an expedition that investigated the relationships between the peoples at each side of the Bering Strait.

Sakha Delegation visits AMNH (2012)

The American Museum of History, Division of Anthropology welcomed a delegation of master craftsmen and native experts from the Sakha Republic in the Russian Federation. The group had come to New York to attend and perform during the annual United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York. At the museum, the group examined objects collected by Waldemar Jochelson during the American Museum of Natural History’s Jesup North Pacific Expedition (1897-1902).

Delegation of master craftsmen and native experts from the Sakha Republic
Delegation of master craftsmen and native experts from the Sakha Republic in the Russian Federation. Front row (from left): Anna Nikiforova (master sewer of ornamental horse cloths (cheprak) and hats), Raisa Markova (poet and singer), Izabella Eliakova (master clothing maker, old styles); Back row (from left): Mikhail Mikhailovich Postnikov (folk healer), Vera Solovyeva (founder of Sakha Diaspora), Fedor Chiarin (woodworker), Galina Shadrina (prayer singer and folklorist) and Prokopii Bygynanov (ironsmith).

Zuni Delegation visits AMNH (2011)

A delegation of Zuni representatives visited the American Museum of Natural History on an exciting cultural mission - to add the Museum's Zuni artifacts to an innovative digital collaborative catalog created by and for the Zuni people. This collaboration was funded by the National Park Service through a generous grant, which the Museum applied for on the delegation's behalf.

Zuni Delegation visits AMNH
Museum staff welcomes Zuni representatives.  From left: Curtis Quam (Technician/Cultural Educator, AAMHC), Jim Enote (Director, AAMHC), Michael Novacek (Sr. Vice President and Provost for Science), Laurel Kendall (Curator, Asian Ethnology and Anthropology Division Chair), Nell Murphy (Director, Cultural Resources), George Yawakie (Zuni Cultural Advisor), Octavius Seowtewa (Zuni Cultural Advisor ), Ronnie Cachini (Zuni Cultural Advisor) and Peter Whiteley (Curator, North American Ethnology).

Willamette Meteorite Agreement (2000)

The American Museum of Natural History and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon signed historic agreement about Willamette Meteorite at Museum. The agreement recognizes the Museum's tradition of displaying and studying the Meteorite for almost a century, while also enabling the Grand Ronde to re-establish its relationship with the Meteorite with an annual ceremonial visit to the Meteorite.

Willamette Meteorite
AMNH/D. Finnin