Q&A with Kim Vigue, the new Executive Director of the Mitchell Museum


The Mitchell Museum of American Indians Kim Vigue announced last Wednesday will be its new executive director. A registered member of the Oneida Nation and a descendant of the Menominee tribe of Wisconsin, Vigue has worked to improve the health and education of Indigenous people through the Bureau of Indian Education in the United States Department of the Interior. United. and other public and private organizations for nearly two decades.

The Daily spoke with Vigue about her new role and the importance of creating a space for Indigenous education and voices in Evanston. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

The Daily: Why did you want to be executive director of the Mitchell Museum?

Vig: I had worked for them through my consulting agency, Wolf River Consulting Group, and I fell in love with the staff and the purpose of their work. I was completely drawn to them because of their mission and their commitment to empowering Indigenous people to lead the way and to share their own lived experience. This is the goal of my entire career – Aboriginal people have that voice and are able to share their own perspectives.

The Daily: What do you envision when you think about the future of the museum?

Vigor: It is really important to me that Indigenous people have a voice, but also that we educate non-Indigenous people about the issues we face and where we could use powerful allies. You have a greater understanding and a greater willingness to support a cause or movement if everyone feels included and everyone feels equally educated.

So there is a whole series of social injustice problems. We talked about the residential school era and its impact on subsequent generations of Indigenous people during my first week there. There are a few other issues we are addressing in the short term, like environmental rights and Indigenous Peoples Day and the poor education of American children. I hope to give the people who are on the ground doing this work a platform to share with everyone.

The Daily: How important to you is a place like the Mitchell Museum dedicated to Indigenous history, voices and culture?

Vigor: Where do I start? It means so much to me. The natives have dealt with and still deal with this problem of invisibility. People don’t even know we exist anymore. Everything that has been taught about us has been taught in the past tense. And it affects everything from the way we are talked about in an educational setting, in healthcare, as far as the environment is concerned – I mean, it impacts every part of our life. Personally, I want to make sure that visitors live this real and authentic Native American experience offered by the natives.

I think about the responsibility it takes for me to be in this role, because every Aboriginal person I know has sat in a classroom and heard educators distort us. This is a real opportunity to introduce residents of Evanston and the greater Chicago area to the history of the Indigenous peoples who originally inhabited this area. And then to teach them that there is this very large thriving indigenous community in the area – that we are still here.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @luciabarnum_

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