Visions of America: Voices from the Heard Museum in Phoenix – Stories of First Americans

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Program Description:

The Heard Museum in Phoenix highlights Indigenous creativity from traditional artworks to contemporary creations. This episode celebrates Native American history, culture, and present-day policy, with a focus on amplifying under heard stories. It explores Indigenous stories of arts, culture, and sports, Native American citizenship and tribal sovereignty, and the changing (and important) place of Native Americans in history.

IMLS Director Crosby Kemper tours the Heard Museum with its Director and CEO David Roche to discuss the museum’s role as a central asset in telling and preserving American Indian history and culture.

Next, Crosby sits down with Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), who is a Native American attorney, tribal judge, author, activist, and law professor, at the Heard Museum for a conversation to discuss Indigenous knowledge and traditions, tribal engagement, and the unique relationship of Native American tribes to our history.

Lastly, Philip J. Deloria (Dakota), who is the Leverette Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University, will join virtually to examine Indigenous contributions to the United States.

Both Echo-Hawk and Deloria are authors, whose work highlights lesser-known stories about Native Americans, who have triumphed over injustice in a quest to achieve the American dream.

Learn More:

Our friends at The Heard museum are committed to connecting Indigenous creativity to the world by presenting the voice and vision of American Indian artists. Learn more about their collections, events, and educational experiences at

Since 1992 the Heard Museum has been home to the World Championship Hoop Dance contest, a competition that intensifies every year as dancers continue to add increasingly difficult movements to their routines integrating difficult manipulations of the hoops. Dancers’ scores are based on five judging categories: precision, timing, rhythm, showmanship, creativity and speed. February 2024 The Heard hosts the 34th Annual World Championship Hoop Dance Contest. In this program, we learn more about the history of this event. Click here to learn more.

About Visions of America

Visions of America – All Stories, All People, All Places, hosted by Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Crosby Kemper, explores our great nation and uses its diverse collection of museums, libraries and historians both familiar and new to tell some of the lesser-known stories that have flown under the radar in our shared legacy of American Independents. Over the course of 3 half-hour episodes in its first season, the program journeys to different historical sites throughout the nation for conversations that will tell the engaging but sometimes hidden stories that resonate with where we are at as a nation today. and maybe give some insight and inspiration on how we got here. But history doesn’t just exist in a museum. Each episode will also venture out into the cities these institutions call home to delve further into what makes each of these communities so important to our national identity, all with the help of local historians who know the stories of their community better than anyone.

Guest Biographies:

David M. Roche - Headshot

David M. Roche is a recognized national and international leader in the field of American Indian art. In 2015, he became the Director and CEO of the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, the largest private museum in the world dedicated to American Indian art and culture.

Prior to that, he served as the Senior Specialist for American Indian art at Sotheby’s Auction House in New York for 18 years. He is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), has a Master of Fine Arts from New York University, and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He has lectured at museums and universities in the United States, United Kingdom, and France, and has contributed to many publications.

Walter Echo Hawk - Headshot

Walter Echo-Hawk is past President, Pawnee Nation Business Council (2020-2023), an author, attorney, jurist, and legal scholar. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2023. He authored The Sea of Grass (2018); In The Light Of Justice (2013); In the Courts of the Conqueror (2010); and Battlefields and Burial Grounds (1994).

A Pawnee Indian with a BA, Political Science, Oklahoma St. Univ. (1970) and JD, UNM (1973), he practices law in Oklahoma. He serves as Chair, Board of Directors, Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM); and is a member of the Board of Directors for The MICA Group, which renders assistance to Tribal Nations and communities.

As a staff attorney of the Native American Rights Fund (1973-2009), he represented Indian Tribes, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians on significant legal issues in the modern era of federal Indian law, during the rise of modern Indian Nations in the tribal sovereignty movement. He litigated indigenous rights pertaining to religious freedom, prisoner rights, water rights, treaty rights, and reburial\repatriation rights. Echo-Hawk is admitted to practice law before the US Supreme Court, Colorado Supreme Court, Oklahoma Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals for the 8th, 9th, 10th and District of Columbia Circuits, Federal Claims Court, and several US District Courts. Highlights from his legal career include:

* 1986-1990: He represented tribal clients to obtain repatriation legislation: (a) precedent-setting legislation in Nebraska (1989) and Kansas (1988) directing museums to return and rebury dead bodies and grave objects to Tribes of origin; (b) the 1989 reburial agreement with the Smithsonian Institution enacted into the National Museum of the American Indian Act; (c) the 1986-1990 legislative campaign culminating in the passage of Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

* 1990-1994: He represented the Native American Church of North America to obtain passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 1994.

* In 2010, he represented the Klamath Tribes in a trial to quantify treaty-protected Indian water rights for hunting, fishing, and gathering purposes; and various Tlingit tribes to repatriate sacred objects and cultural patrimony.

In private practice (2009-2023) Echo-Hawk has represented various Oklahoma tribes; served as a Justice on the Supreme Courts of the Pawnee and Kickapoo Nations; and taught Federal Indian Law at law schools of Tulsa University, Lewis & Clark, and University of Hawai’i.’ As President of the Pawnee Nation (2020-2023), he helped the Nation navigate the Covid Pandemic, face the related downturn in the economy, while achieving significant growth.

Awards: Member, American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2023); Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals, Univ. of Hawai’i Law School (2018); Lawrence Baca Lifetime Achievement Award (2015) (highest honor accorded by FBA’s Indian Law Section); Walter Echo-Hawk Distinguished Visiting Scholar (2015), Lewis & Clark Law School; Governor’s Commendation (2010) (for professional contributions on behalf of indigenous cultures throughout the nation); Judge Hughes Civil Liberties Award (2009), FBA; Distinguished Native American Alumni (2009), Okla. State Univ.; Martin Luther King Peace Award (1998), Metropolitan College of Denver; Spirit of Excellence Award (1995); Civil Liberties Award (1991), ACLU Oregon.

Philip Deloria- Headshot

Philip J. Deloria is Professor of History at Harvard University, where his research and teaching focus on the social, cultural and political histories of the relations among American Indian peoples and the United States, as well as the comparative and connective histories of indigenous peoples in a global context.

His first book, Playing Indian (1998), traced the tradition of white “Indian play” from the Boston Tea Party to the New Age movement, while his 2004 book Indians in Unexpected Places examined the ideologies surrounding Indian people in the early twentieth century and the ways Native Americans challenged them through sports, travel, automobility, and film and musical performance. He is the co-editor of The Blackwell Companion to American Indian History (with Neal Salisbury) and C.G. Jung and the Sioux Traditions by Vine Deloria (with Jerome Bernstein). His most recent book, co-authored with Alexander Olson is American Studies: A User’s Guide (2017), which offers a comprehensive treatment of the historiography and methodology of the field of American Studies. He is currently completing a project on American Indian visual arts of the mid-twentieth century, and coediting (with Beth Piatote) I Heart Nixon: Essays on the Indigenous Everyday.

Deloria received the Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 1994, taught for six years at the University of Colorado, and then at the University of Michigan from 2001 to 2017, before joining the faculty at Harvard in January 2018. At Michigan, he served as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, Director of the Program in American Culture, and of the Native American Studies Program, and held the Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Chair. His courses have included American Indian history, Environmental history, the American West, and American Studies methods, as well as Food Studies, Songwriting, and Big History.

Deloria is a trustee of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, where he chairs the Repatriation Committee. He is former president of the American Studies Association, an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the recipient of numerous prizes and recognitions. Along with Erika Doss, he is the series editor of CultureAmerica, a University Press of Kansas series focused on American cultural history. He maintains ongoing academic engagements with scholars in Taiwan and Australia.

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