Curator hired for Diné College museum

TSAILE, Ariz., March 29, 2012

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(Courtesy photo - Ed McCombs/Diné College)

The new curator of Diné College's Ned Hatathli Museum is Nonabah Sam.

Nonabah Sam is the new curator for Diné College's Ned Hatathli Museum, according to a college news release.

"It's an honor and pleasure to be here at Diné College," Sam said. "I have always enjoyed what the tribal college and universities movement has been doing for indigenous people especially, offering a chance at higher education on the reservation.

"I went to a tribal college and have had an array of fortunate opportunities," she said. "I am very excited to be here because in many ways I'm beginning to see my education come full circle - first learning the Western concepts and now back to the roots of my own people, indigenous pedagogy and concepts.

"I look at this as an opportunity to share the story behind the story," she said. "It's what museums are all about as a public education tool and resource."

Asked what she meant by "share the story, behind the story," Sam used the example of sand-painting panels displayed on the third floor of the museum.

"Each and every one of these panels gives representation of our history and creation as Diné," she said. "We can look at our origin story and truly understand where we come from and how deeply rooted we are, traditionally speaking.

"These panels surpass any history book, mathematical configuration, or scientific matter, just like our creation story," she said.

Recently construction of a new archival center was completed at the Tsaile campus.

"We are looking forward to sharing this new building and possibly having a grand opening this summer or early fall," Sam said. "Right now, we are starting the process of doing an inventory of what we have in our collection and because that will take us some time, the process is slow moving at the moment."

Maggie George, president of Diné College, noted, "She brings a great deal of professionalism in museum training, knowledge and passion to bear on the future direction of our Ned Hatathli Museum and help us realize the full potential of our new archive center."

Sam, Navajo/Tesuque, is from Brimhall, N.M. She is a 1996 graduate of Tohatchi High and earned associates and bachelor's degrees in museum studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M.

From 2008 to 2010, she served as an ambassador with Americans for Indian Opportunity.

She earned a master's degree at the University of New Mexico in language, literacy and sociocultural studies with an emphasis in American Indian education.

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