A photograph of me as it appeared in an exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian. Working at the NMAI, I coordinated museum training services for Native museums, providing workshops to Native communities throughout North America from 1994 - 2007.
THE STRONGEST FABRIC
Grasp the hands of another.
Intertwine twenty fingers.
Weave the strongest fabric of all -- Friendship.
©Karen Coody Cooper
605 W SHAWNEE ST
TAHLEQUAH OK 74464
Since beginning my museum career in 1979, I focused on battling stereotypes and misinformation about American Indians. For almost a decade, I worked in a small museum in Connecticut (now the Institute of American Indian Studies), researched Southern New England Native history, and wrote and spoke throughout the Northeast on Native American topics. In 1989 the New England History Teachers Association presented me with the Kidger Award for excellence in history education. I also wrote for and served on the board of Eagle Wing Press, a New England American Indian newspaper. EWP produced the book Rooted Like the Ash Tree containing the writings of American Indians, distributed to every school in New England (I married EWP editor, Jim Roaix).
I continued at the Museum of the Great Plains in Oklahoma and at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in Maryland. In 1994, I was recruited by the Smithsonian to manage their museum training program as mandated by the legislation establishing the National Museum of the American Indian. That work took me to more than half the Native museums in the United States, and brought me into contact with Native museum leaders. I completed my museum career at the Cherokee Heritage Center by supervising its replicated 19th century living history Cherokee settlement for four years and serving as interim Executive Director in 2012. My book Spirited Encounters chronicles Native protests of museum policies and is used in museum studies and American Indian studies. I have had a long interest in stereotypes about American Indians and have an interesting collection of old stereotype materials. I now live in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, having returned to the state of my birth and the Cherokee Nation. In my retirement I provide museum consultations, teach occasional courses at nearby Northeastern State University, continue to write and create contemporary as well as replicated wampum belts. See additional pages of this Web site: Wampum Projects, Stereotypes and Published Works.