The Autry Museum of the American West has been given a $414,101 grant from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, in what the Los Angeles institution said is the largest sum it has ever received from a Native tribe or community. In a release, the museum said it aims to put the funds toward initiatives used to reach Native communities.
In a statement, Lynn Valbuena, the chairwoman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, said, “Our partnership with the Autry Museum of the American West will increase indigenous peoples’ access, connections, and stewardship of their ancestors and material culture, it is our hope that not only our tribal community, but many others across California, will benefit from the healing and joy that such interactions with our ancestors can bring.”
The money from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, located on a reservation near Highland, California, will specifically used by the Autry Museum in its ongoing efforts to comply with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which requires federally funded institutions to facilitate the process of returning “cultural items,” such as sacred objects and human remains, to Native American tribes.
The Autry said in a release that it aims to make its Southwest Museum of the American Indian holdings, which are due to go on view in 2019 in a new building in Burbank, compliant with NAGPRA guidelines, and will start by working on the Southwest Museum’s archaeological collections from San Bernardino County. (That same release notes that the ancestral lands of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians “include most of present-day San Bernardino County.”)
W. Richard West, the president and CEO of the Autry, and a member of the Southern Cheyenne people, said in a statement, “What makes the gift truly special is that it is from a California Native community. The generosity of this act bears witness to and makes material the special bond the community holds with the Autry, and the faith of that community in the Autry’s mission of telling the diverse stories of the American West.”