John Norder has been appointed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, compliance officer and curator of Native American and Indigenous Studies and Engagement at the Michigan State University Museum.
He will help steward the museum’s collection of historic and culturally significant artifacts related to Indigenous peoples.
“Of the many things I am looking forward to in this new position in the museum, one of the most important to me is to learn and teach others about the types of lives many of the Indigenous materials held by the Museum have,” Norder said. “Many people often comment that objects they encounter in a museum ‘speak’ to them. For myself and other Indigenous people, this is often a truth that objects have voices and many are considered to be living relations. Working with Indigenous knowledge keepers, I hope to be able to learn and share what these lives are through museum programs and community engagement and to help people ‘hear’ what these relations are saying and provide for their well-being as residents rather than holdings of the museum.”
Norder is an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Dakota Tribe and descendant of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in anthropology, with a focus on ethnohistory, archaeology and community-based research. His current and ongoing research has focused on the ways in which traditional indigenous knowledge is used as a tool of mediation between issues of historical and contemporary identity, landscape, cultural and natural resource heritages and economic development in the context of community and state level policy issues.
Currently the director of the Native American Institute and associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at MSU, Norder has recently worked on agribusiness development, community behavioral health, documentation of community stories through digital storytelling, issues regarding counterfeit production of American Indian arts and crafts, assessment of tribal and Native American organizational programs and ongoing work on American Indian heritage issues related to NAGPRA and community cultural programs.