Martina Dawley Named Assistant Curator for American Indian Relations

April 7, 2016

Responsibilities Include Managing ASM's Southwest Native Nations Advisory Board

July 22, 2013


Arizona State Museum has named Martina Dawley, Hualapai (enrolled)/Navajo, its new assistant curator for American Indian relations. 

Primary among her responsibilities will be management of ASM's Southwest Native Nations Advisory Board, oversight of the museum’s American Indian internship program, facilitation of tribal consultations related to programs throughout the museum, and providing training and technical assistance to tribal museums, libraries, archives, and cultural centers.

“I am honored to have been selected for this position,” said Dawley. “I feel that an American Indian relations office at ASM will enhance the museum’s already strong relationships with tribal communities. Having been a student at ASM myself, and a beneficiary of the very internship program I will now be overseeing, I’m excited to have the opportunity to help Native students interested in the museum profession. I look forward to the work and to the challenges of my new position.”

When Dr. Patrick D. Lyons assumed ASM’s directorship on June 1, 2013, he did so with specific and immediate goals. Topping the list was this hire. Lyons, at ASM since 2006, has a history of successful collaborations with the state’s tribal communities when it comes to cultural preservation, archaeological excavation, and repatriation.

“My priorities for ASM are excellence and relevance," he said. “Relevance, I believe, requires improving how ASM communicates and collaborates with its many constituencies, including, and perhaps most importantly, Arizona's tribal communities.”

From Peach Springs, Arizona, on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, Dawley has experience in many areas of ASM's mission, having done archaeological field and lab work, collections management, and conservation. Dawley also has experience in college-level classroom teaching and educational outreach.

A McNair Scholar and graduate student intern, Dawley worked in ASM’s conservation lab on various projects since 2006. In the past year, with funding from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, Dawley worked on detecting arsenic contamination levels in Navajo textiles from ASM’s permanent collection, using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer.

Dawley earned her BA in anthropology in 2006 (focusing on the archaeology of the US Southwest) and her MA in American Indian Studies in 2009 (focusing on Indian boarding school tattoos), both from the University of Arizona (UA). Dawley is currently finishing her PhD in American Indian Studies, also at UA, addressing the question of why so few American Indians become museum professionals.

“My research emphasis is finding out who's who among professional American Indian conservators and, in addition, understanding the difficulties American Indian professionals face in becoming experts and the sole custodians of their own cultural materials and human remains.”