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Knowing Native Arts, University of Nebraska Press (2020)

Cover Art: Sara Siestreem, Thanks Giving / Giving Thanks: Prayer, Unarmed, Nonviolent, Lithograph, 2016, Missoula Art Museum Collection, gift, MATRIX Press, 2016. By permission of the artist. To purchase the book: Go to University of Nebraska Press

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Knowing Native Arts brings Nancy Marie Mithlo’s Native insider perspective to understanding the significance of Indigenous arts in national and global milieus. These musings, written from the perspective of a senior academic and curator traversing a dynamic and at turns fraught era of Native self-determination, are a critical appraisal of a system that is often broken for Native peoples seeking equity in the arts. Mithlo addresses crucial issues, such as the professionalization of Native arts scholarship, disparities in philanthropy and training, ethnic fraud, and the receptive scope of Native arts in new global and digital realms. This contribution to the field of fine arts broadens the scope of discussions and offers insights that are often excluded from contemporary appraisals.

Knowing Native Arts identifies and debates the central frames of Native arts scholarship including the institution of the museum and the academy, forms of Indigenous aesthetic analysis, the receptive scope of Native arts in new global and digital realms, and models of exhibition practices in light of current American Indian Curatorial mandates. This contribution to the field of fine arts is intended to broaden the scope of discussion and to offer insights that are often not included in contemporary appraisals. While many readers may anticipate a rapprochement between established frames of Western and Native arts, this is not a task that one person or one book can accomplish. Rather, consider these musings as an extended case study of one academic traversing a dynamic and at turns fraught era of Native self-determination.