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Here you can find CMA’s positions on pressing concerns within the culture and heritage sectors. There are also links to resources for further learning and action.

CMA Statement on Ukraine

The Council for Museum Anthropology stands in solidarity with Ukraine, and recognizes its sovereignty as a nation with a vibrant and distinct cultural heritage. We uphold the 1954 Hague Convention, and condemn attacks on a people’s cultural institutions and sites of heritage. We join our voices with the global community in demanding the Russian government cease hostilities against Ukraine. The Council for Museum Anthropology will act to provide reliable information to our members, colleagues, and friends in the heritage community, and we express our willingness to assist our peers in Ukrainian museums and galleries.
Council for Museum Anthropology Board, March 2, 2022
Letter of Appeal from the Maidan Museum, Ukraine, to the Global Community
ICOM’s statement
CIDOC’s statement.
Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, University of New Mexico statement.
Museums Association statement.
1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, UNESCO


CMA Statement on MOVE / Africa Family Remains

The Council for Museum Anthropology stands against the retention of human remains in anthropology and museum collections against the wishes of descendants and communities. We support Black, Indigenous, and Peoples of Colour in their efforts to repatriate their kin and ancestors, and acknowledge the racist ideologies of the discipline of anthropology in turning people’s bodies into objects for collection and study. We further acknowledge that to hold and use human remains without the consent, or against the will of, relatives and descendants continues racist violence in the present.

We encourage our members, and our colleagues in anthropology departments and museums, to read the statement from the Association of Black Anthropologists, Society for Black Archaeologists, and the Black in Bioanthropology Collective on the holding and use of the remains of Tree and Delisha Africa, and for ways to support Philadelphia’s Black community and MOVE in their desire for justice and healing.

Council for Museum Anthropology Board of Directors

April 29, 2021

Contact CMA Secretary Catherine Nichols at

Beyond the Black Squares: A Meaningful Conversation on Museums and Allyship

This panel – a bold, honest and meaningful conversation led by IBPOC museum professionals across Canada reflects on the ongoing race revolution around the world, the unsilencing of racism within white-led institutions, and specific calls to action on how museums can become true allies. The panelists share their range of experiences and truths, but through those experiences offer meaningful solutions to museums and museum leaders.

On #ScholarStrike Against Police Violence

The Council for Museum Anthropology, as a member of the American Anthropological Association would like to alert its members to the following statement:

The American Anthropological Association stands in solidarity with the academics participating in #ScholarStrike, a collective action against police violence on September 8th and 9th. With the shooting of Jacob Blake and others by police, and the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, also by police, we fully support the strike and the #ScholarStrike affirmation that “We can no longer sit quietly amidst state violence against communities of color.”

Further, the AAA also supports the faculty members currently fighting systemic racism in their own colleges and universities. We call on our colleagues to take a leading role in the teach-ins and apply their professional research, scholarship, and practice to overturning the deeply entrenched institutional sources of race-based inequality that are barriers to a more just and sustainable world. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are an integral part of what it means to be human and what needs to become “systemic” in our society.

AAA is offering the following resources in the hope they will provide anthropologists and others with the tools they need to have open and fact-based conversations about race in their communities.

See more here

On Dismantling White Supremacy, Black Lives Matter, and the Murder of George Floyd

The Council for Museum Anthropology endorses the following statement released by the American Anthropological Association on June 1, 2020, and has created an ad hoc Task Force to issue immediate action items for the Council.
Council for Museum Anthropology Board of Directors
June 4, 2020

Contact CMA Secretary Diana Marsh at

On the Proposed Closure of the National Archives and Records Administration Seattle Facility

The Council for Museum Anthropology would like to alert its members of the proposed closure of the National Archives’ Seattle facility. Please read this statement from the Society of American Archivists and Council of State Archivists which joins Congressional delegations in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington in opposing the closure due to its impact on access for researchers, especially Native American and First Nations researchers of the Northwest:

Statement on the Destruction of Cultural Heritage:

The Council for Museum Anthrpology, as a section of the American Anthropological Association, stands with our parent organization in strongly condemning the destruction of cultural heritage sites.

“Targeting Cultural Sites is a War Crime — On behalf of more than 50,000 scholars and researchers in the humanities and social sciences, our scholarly and professional societies call upon people throughout the US and, indeed, around the world to remind the President of the United States that targeting cultural sites for military activity is a war crime except under the narrowest of circumstances, and cannot be justified under any circumstances.

The President has threatened via Twitter to target 52 sites in Iran, including cultural sites, if Iran retaliates for the assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, and he has reiterated that such an action is appropriate even after members of his administration attempted to express restraint. Whatever other efforts are underway to de-escalate hostilities and pursue diplomacy, the Administration must be dissuaded from continuing to threaten cultural sites and civilians.

Cultural sites at risk of damage or destruction by military activity are irreplaceable and result in a loss to civilization, history, and human understanding. The US Department of Defense has gone to extraordinary lengths to coordinate with knowledgeable experts over the past two decades to protect cultural sites in the region. This apparent reversal of strategy is misguided, short-sighted, and will only serve to enrage the Iranian people, for whom the President himself has professed his personal admiration.

Destruction of cultural sites, like the targeting of civilians and noncombatants, must never be considered as a military objective. Please let the administration know how you feel about this issue, and let your Congressional delegation know as well.” (Press Release).

We also stand with our colleagues at the American Alliance of Museums in opposing these actions. (Press Release).

Council for Museum Anthropology Board of Directors

January 7, 2020

Contact CMA Secretary Diana Marsh at

Please also see similar endorsements of this position including the Archaeological Institute of America (statement here) and this New York Times letter to the editor.

Resources for Responsible Stewardship and Decolonizing Methodologies

Example Institutional Policies:

Council for Museum Anthropology Statement on Funding for Cultural Heritage

President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposes to eliminate three significant independent agencies that provide crucial funding for research, programming, and exhibition of the arts and humanities — the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  The Council for Museum Anthropology strongly opposes this short-sighted proposal. We remind the White House that these agencies play a vital and unique role in supporting state, local, community, and grassroots organizations that enrich our appreciation of the arts and humanities, grow our understanding of our nation’s diverse history, and preserve our nation’s historical collections. They also have huge impacts among small communities and tribal museums, archives, and libraries that we as museum anthropologists work with closely.

Among the agencies threatened, the NEH funds humanities councils in every state and U.S. territory which sponsor family literacy programs, speakers’ bureaus, cultural heritage tourism, exhibitions, and live performances. NEH also provides more than 2,000 grants to smaller institutions for assistance in preserving historical collections and, through a unique interagency funding partnership with the National Science Foundation, supports projects to develop and advance knowledge toward endangered language revitalization in Native American and other communities. In this area, relatively small amounts of money carry huge weight and impact for communities. IMLS funds many community-based programs for museums and cultural heritage sites, without which it would be more difficult for many people to gain access to the internet, continue their education, learn critical research skills, and find employment. From 2002 to 2011, the IMLS Grants to States program alone supplied $980 million to support increased access to digital information, including $67 million toward the digitization of local history and special collections. NEA supports many small organizations and communities that rely on this funding to survive. For instance, 65% of NEA grants go to small and medium sized organizations, which tend to support projects that benefit audiences that otherwise might not have access to arts programming, 40% of NEA-supported activities take place in high-poverty neighborhoods, and more than half of NEA-funded art events take place in locations where the median household income is less than $50,000.

Museums reach a large, diverse public audience. They make research, science, humanities, art, and history accessible to millions of school children and adults each year. According to a study published in Education Next, an education journal at Stanford University, students who attend a field trip to an art museum experience an increase in critical thinking skills, historical empathy and tolerance. For students from rural or high-poverty regions, the increase was even more significant.

When museums flourish, so do our communities. The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) released a new study, Museums as Economic Engines (2017), that shows that for every $100 of economic activity created by museums, an additional $220 is created in other sectors of the US economy; museums contribute approximately $50 billion to the US economy each year, a number that’s more than twice previous estimates. Moreover, museums are a key component of the $171 billion cultural tourism industry; research shows that museum visitors spend more and stay longer than other tourists, boosting our local eateries, hotels, and other businesses.

The CMA stands with AAM in its opposition to the 2019 budget, and “remains committed to helping ensure that all legislators understand the profound economic, educational, and community benefits that museums bring their constituents with the help of these vital federal investments.”

Council for Museum Anthropology Board of Directors

March 22, 2018

Contact CMA Secretary Diana Marsh at

Council for Museum Anthropology Statement on Cultural Heritage and the New Presidential Administration

Museums are spaces where peoples of different backgrounds, cultures, and faiths join together to promote dialogue and understanding. Museum anthropology is dedicated to the work of anthropology — of human understanding across cultural differences — in museums and related institutions. The Council for Museum Anthropology Board affirms our sustained commitment to human diversity and academic freedom. We pledge to advocate on behalf of threatened community members and against discrimination. We aim to use our work in museums and cultural heritage to promote cross-cultural understanding and positive change.

Thus dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage across global cultures, we urge the administration to protect museums and heritage sites by ensuring federal support, as well as the essential exchanges of ideas, exhibitions, and objects that allow us to do our work.

In solidarity with the National Arts and Cultural Organization Presidential Transition Statement, we urge the U.S. government to ensure the following for museums, cultural heritage, the arts and other cultural resources:

EQUITABLE ACCESS through federal programs, and the support of grant-making agencies such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY AND CULTURAL EXCHANGE by promoting arts and culture in diplomacy, and ensuring access to such exchanges through common sense immigration and visa policies.

COORDINATED APPROACH TO INTEGRATED ARTS POLICIES by urging the new Administration to utilize the expertise of the National Endowment for the Arts and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to develop new federal policies for the arts and culture that will support our nation’s broader economic, domestic, and diplomatic strategies.

Council for Museum Anthropology Board of Directors

March 13, 2017

Contact CMA Secretary Diana Marsh at

Council for Museum Anthropology Calls for Immediate Reversal of Executive Order Banning Immigrants

The Council for Museum Anthropology stands with the American Anthropological Association in calling for the immediate retraction of the U.S. Executive Order that blocks immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Museum anthropology is dedicated to understanding cultural differences through research, exhibitions, cultural performances and other public events in museums and related institutions, and to the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide. Museums are public spaces where individuals representing diverse backgrounds, cultures, and religions come together to promote dialogue. We contend that this executive order violates the human rights of refugees and immigrants and impedes the public exchange of ideas and recognition of diverse perspectives that represent the core mission of museums and other cultural heritage institutions and which are essential to any democratic nation.

Museums and cultural heritage sites are uniquely positioned to tell the story of the United States. Fundamental to this story are the histories of Indigenous peoples whose homelands cross modern borders, enslaved peoples who were brought to America against their will, and immigrants from all faiths and nations that contribute to the complex histories of settlement of this country. America embodies diverse heritages which tell the history of globalization and demonstrate American connections to cultures across the world. This executive order jeopardizes the well being and lives of thousands of people, is counter to the history and spirit of this country, impoverishes cultural understandings, and threatens cultural institutions’ foundational principles of diversity and inclusion.

Council for Museum Anthropology Board of Directors

March 13, 2017

Contact CMA Secretary Diana Marsh at 

Council for Museum Anthropology Stands with Tribal Nations Opposing Dakota Access Pipeline

The Council for Museum Anthropology stands with the American Anthropological Association and in solidarity with the sovereign Oceti Sakowin Oyate (the Great Sioux Nation), the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the American Indian Studies Association, and the many tribal nations in strongly opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The construction of the oil pipeline violates any trust between the United States Government and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The proposed pipeline route crosses the sacred ancestral lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Missouri River – a major source of water for the Tribe.

The conduct of the US government in its approval of the Pipeline proposal also breaches the terms of the 1851 and 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaties between the Oceti Sakowin and the United States. The pipeline further violates the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, as well as the collective human rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its people.

Furthermore, Article 19 of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples maintains that “states shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.” Yet, in violation of both human rights and US government policy, the US Army Corps of Engineers granted environmental clearances and construction permits without consulting the Standing Rock tribal government in a meaningful way.

The Council for Museum Anthropology believes in the protection of cultural heritage, defined broadly. This includes the historic lands and cultural spaces of Indigenous peoples. As museum and heritage professionals, we have a responsibility to be allies and advocates for the protection of ancestral lands and histories for future generations. We call for the respect of the sovereign rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its peoples, and the immediate halt of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Council for Museum Anthropology Board of Directors

March 13, 2017

Contact CMA Secretary Diana Marsh at