First Advisor

Katrine Barber

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Public history, Collaboration and interpretation, Native Americans, Chinook Indians -- Dwellings -- Washington (State) -- Cathlapotle, Ethnological museums and collections -- Washington (State) -- Cathlapotle -- Cross-cultural studies



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 188 p.) : col. ill., 1 col. map


In the last two decades, a shift in the museological paradigm has changed the way in which Native American history and culture is interpreted and represented to the general public. As legal mandates and growing institutional pressures increasingly call for the integration of tribal representatives into the decision-making bodies of museums and authoritative institutions, cross-cultural collaboration and partnerships have increased significantly. With little precedent guiding public historians and museum professionals through this new and complex system of collaboration, the path unfolding in the journey towards the “indigenization”; of museums has been marked with achievements and challenges that have both taught and tested historical professionals. The following is a case study that examines the ways in which this unfolding shift in Native American representation manifested itself in the reconstruction of a Chinookan plankhouse in the early 21st century. With a common objective of educating visitors about the significant cultural and natural history of the former site of the Cathlapotle village, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Chinook Indian Nation teamed up to design, fund, construct and interpret the Cathlapotle Plankhouse in Ridgefield, Washington. Despite sharing a common goal for the reconstruction of a full-scale Chinookan plankhouse, different motivations and agendas guided the decision-making process and required both partners to make compromises that challenged each other’s understanding and expectations of the project. In this work, I analyze how these two organizations navigated the rewarding yet challenging realm of cross-cultural collaboration to create a meaningful and significant heritage site for a wide range of user groups. From this analysis, I hope to provide public historians and museum professionals a detailed example of a cross-cultural partnership that will assist them as they move forward through a continuously unfolding and largely uncharted system of collaboration.


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Portland State University. Dept. of History

Persistent Identifier