Most of the day was spent in meetings or on the phone consulting with museums. It’s always emphasized and for good reason, because when there is real consultation occurring, results usually follow. Of all the denied claims we had, there was usually very little or no consultation. I would call and email, usually with no reply, and when I finally did reach somebody on the phone, conversations were very minimal. I know when somebody doesn’t want to talk to me and it’s frustrating. NAGPRA can be very emotional work and it’s hard not to take things personally, but it’s impossible most of the time. When a museum refuses to work with your tribe, which you are part of, you take it personally.
Tribes are not all the same. Most people who read this already know this but there are many people in this country who don’t realize every tribe is different, and historically, didn’t always get along. Customs and beliefs vary, along with geographic locations and populations. When a museum engages into NAGPRA work with a tribe, they must realize this tribe is unique and has to be treated as such. I’ve run into a few museums who still lump Indians together as a collective group, that we are all the same. A museum has to recognize an individual tribe’s belief when they present a claim.