I am writing to express my disappointment at Marty Two Bulls' cartoon last week [Vol. 27, Iss. 16] on the selection of Kevin Gover as new director of the NMAI. I know Marty is independent in his cartoons for the newspaper (and I have been a fan of his work for years), but, frankly, I thought the cartoon was a bit over the line.
The controversy over the NMAI's director selection process rests on a complex set of circumstances that were roundly addressed by the various op-eds in your editorial page. Many people will have strong opinions on those issues. But the cartoon was a low blow. Kevin Gover is not a clownish person. He is an accomplished professional with a long track record in Indian country affairs. Most importantly, he is now at the helm of the most promising Native cultural institution in the country. I truly hope the newspaper will give him the chance to articulate his vision of the NMAI's future, which, as we move forward, is the most important focus.
In many ways, the NMAI is still a young child taking its first steps into early maturity. After a period of intense negotiation and development, the NMAI is now entering its second era and many of us are working hard to deepen its content and produce exhibits and programs that will be increasingly relevant and useful to Indian country. Given the contentions of the moment and the many current attempts to diminish the image and reality of American Indian peoples, it is important to be extra careful.
I appreciate that a newspaper is obliged to discern all sides of an issue and provide critical evaluation on public matters. Nevertheless, as new director Kevin Gover moves forward to assume the mantle of leadership over this wonderful institution, it is a refreshing moment to welcome and support his excellent potential to contribute.
- Jose Barreiro
Assistant Director for ResearchNMAIWashington, D.C.