For Whom the (Mission) Bells Toll: A Comparative Analysis of Native American Heritage Interpretation in Museums



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This research explores the preservation and interpretation of Native American heritage within the Spanish mission system in California, with a particular focus on addressing the incomplete and biased representation of Native American heritage in museums and heritage sites. The study aims to investigate how Native American history and heritage can be presented and interpreted in a decolonized manner. By employing Amy Lonetree's principles of decolonizing museums, this research examines the implementation of decolonizing practices in exhibit spaces and educational materials across four institutions in California. Historic sites hold cultural significance and serve as platforms for learning, but they also bear the weight of historical trauma inflicted upon Native American communities. The enduring impact of the colonial mission system on these communities underscores the necessity of more inclusive narratives and the urgent call for decolonization efforts. This research recognizes the colonial framework that has shaped historic narratives and emphasizes the crucial role of museums and heritage sites in fostering decolonizing engagement and presenting a comprehensive understanding of history.

Embargo status: Restricted until 09/2028. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.



Decolonizing museums, Heritage dissonance, Authorized Heritage Discourse, Historic Spanish Missions, Decolonization, Native American heritage, Heritage interpretation