Indigenous Epistemologies: Restorative Justice in Settler-Colonial Collections

This panel considers collections relating to Native American past, present and future. Calling for a paradigm shift that emphasizes regeneration and restoration of indigenous ways of living, David Michener focuses on projects at the UM Matthaei Botanical Garden with deep connections to indigenous culture and agriculture: the Heritage Seed Project and the Mnomen Initiative, a collaborative indigenous garden project led by Anishinaabek community members. Veronica Williamson, speaking about her work with co-curator Lindsey Willow Smith (not present for the panel), confronts the visual layers of settler-colonialism in postcards and cartes de visite of Native American people. She ponders the possibility of reading the portraits against the grain and reflects on ways to re-historicize and re-humanize the photographs of indigenous people. Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko will share decolonizing museum practices that she co-led in her role as director of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine and now at the Illinois State Museum.

Moderator: Veronica Pasfield, Public Historian, Tribal Cultural Resources Consultant, Journalist, and Curator


  • Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, Director, Illinois State Museum
  • David Michener, Curator, Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
  • Veronica Williamson, PhD candidate, German Languages and Literatures & Museum Studies Certificate Student