Caitrin Scarlett Engle

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Colorado, Boulder, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10299

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Engle, Caitrin (Colorado, Boulder, U. of) "The Power of Placemaking: Collaborating with Descendant Communities to Re-Imagine the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum"

In 2019, Mesa Verde National Park began a collaborative re-interpretation project of a scale never before attempted by a U.S. national park museum. This collaboration brings together Mesa Verde National Park employees, museum professionals, archaeologists, and, most importantly, members of the twenty-six Pueblos and Tribes associated with the park to redesign the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. Using cultural anthropology and decolonizing methodologies, my project will document this ambitious redesign process as it unfolds from the perspective of each party involved. Building on two years of preliminary fieldwork, I will investigate how the first national park museum redesign guided by associated tribes might affect the colonial relationships that have long defined encounters between parks, tribes, and anthropologists. My research asks: How might relationships be challenged or maintained throughout the process? As these relationships unfold through time, how might new ways of narrating place emerge? Within these new exhibits, my research will assess how Native knowledge and archaeological knowledge might be interpreted together in a way that creates more accurate, innovative, and ethical exhibits. In addition to contributing to scholarly conversations about placemaking, museum anthropology, and Indigenous theory, my research will provide vital takeaways for NPS employees and museum practitioners.