Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services Grants

Through the Museum Services Act funding the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). 

In 1998 AASLH began its American Indian Museums Program (AIMP) to advocate for and provide professional development to America’s tribal museums.  When Congress authorized and appropriated funds for the establishment of National Museum of the American Indian within the Smithsonian Institution it did not appropriate funds for Section 15 of the legislation.  Among the many goals of the Museum was the recognition that the artifacts held by the Museum “belonged” to the many tribal communities across the land.  As a result, a concept for returning and exhibiting those artifacts to the tribal communities via loans to tribal museums, libraries, and cultural centers was an integral part of the Museum legislation.  S. 978 also recognized a problem that is still very much prevalent today—the vast majority of America’s tribal museums, libraries and cultural centers do not meet the qualifications nor standards to accept loans from the Smithsonian to exhibit their “own” treasures.

Section 15 of S. 978 authorized through the Department of the Interior $2 million in annual funding with interest available for grants to help these tribal entities.  Unfortunately Section 15 funds were never appropriated even though they were authorized.  In 2000, AASLH’s AIMP went to work lobbying Congress to appropriate funds under Section 15 of S. 978.  Although not funded as originally designed, Section 15 funding was authorized through lobbying efforts by AASLH’s AIMP Steering Committee and tribal museum staff around the country.  Today tribal museums are funded through set-aside funds provided by the Institute for Museum and Library Services’ Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services Program.  FY 2013’s Continuing Resolution funds the program at $925,687.