Native American Collections Specialist, The Filson Historical Society, Louisville, KY

  • 27 Sep 2021 2:51 PM
    Message # 11125358

    Summary This two-year, full-time, grant-funded position helps the Filson Historical Society address its relationship to Indigenous people with historical and cultural ties to the Ohio River Valley through a better understanding and ethical treatment of the Indigenous items currently in its stewardship. This position oversees the Filson’s compliance with NAGPRA regulations, including the preparation of inventories and summaries, cultural affiliation identification, reporting requirements, the repatriation of ancestral remains and funerary items, and ensuring the ethical and responsible care of Indigenous items in its custodianship with sensitivity and respect to Indigenous cultures. This position will work in partnership with Indigenous cultural, governmental, and educational organizations to ensure accurate and respectful inclusion of Indigenous history and cultures in Filson publications, public events, and long-term planning.


    • Identify, inventory, catalog, and determine the cultural affiliation of ancestral remains and cultural items currently in the Filson’s stewardship.

    • Oversee compliance with the regulations of the Native American Graves Protection Act (NAGPRA), including identification of ancestral human remains and funerary items, preparation of summaries, inventories, cultural affiliation reports, “Notices of Inventory Completion”, and “Notices of Intent to Repatriate” as required by NAGPRA regulations. • Reassess previous cultural affiliations and NAGPRA reporting and update as needed to ensure they are correct.

    • Act as a liaison between the Filson Historical Society, Native American nations, and the national NAGPRA program.

    • Oversee the repatriation of ancestral remains and funerary artifacts to appropriate Tribes or organizations in a manner that honors Indigenous voices in the cultural stewardship of their ancestors and their belongings.

    • Assist in the development of best practices and procedures for ongoing care of Indigenous cultural heritage that may remain in the Filson’s stewardship.

    • Coordinate Filson activities with other cultural and research organizations in the region, including the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission, Kentucky State Parks, colleges and universities, and museums in Kentucky and other states.

    • Supervise interns and volunteers who will support this project.

    • Contribute to a more inclusive and accurate account of the history of Kentucky and the Ohio Valley by reintroducing the voices and perspectives of Indigenous people in the past and present. Leverage platforms including the Filson’s quarterly newsmagazine and the peer-reviewed Ohio Valley History journal; contribute content to the Filson’s First American West digital project; and develop of grant-funded educational programing designed for K-12 classrooms.


    • Degree in archaeology, Indigenous studies, museum studies or related field. Demonstrated experience/knowledge directly related to the duties and responsibilities can be substituted for a degree.

    • Knowledge of Indigenous history, culture, and artifacts, particularly in Kentucky, the Ohio Valley, and Midwest (Note: some artifacts have origins outside of this region).

    Working knowledge of Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and experience with compliance procedures.

    • Strong interpersonal skills in working with diverse communities and ability to develop meaningful relationships with tribal communities on behalf of the Filson.

    • Ability to work with culturally sensitive artifacts and information, including the physical handling of ancestral human remains and funerary items in a respectful and appropriate manner.

    • Knowledge of collections management processes including conducting physical inventories, cataloging, as well as handling, housing, and packing objects.

    • Computer proficiency, primarily with Microsoft Office, especially Excel. Experience with PastPerfect or other collections databases preferred.

    Compensation and Benefits Salary of $50,000 per year with a competitive benefits package including health and life insurance. The work of this position will be supported by a grant-funded archival supply and travel budget and through the assignment of at least one but possibly more undergraduate interns.

    This is a full-time position, expected to work 40 hours per week, based in the Filson’s campus in Louisville, Kentucky. It reports to the Director of Collection & Research. The usual hours will be 8:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, with occasional hours on weekends and evenings.

    Travel within Kentucky and the United States is required. The term of the position will run from January 2022 to December 2023.

    Application Procedures

    Applications including 1) a cover letter detailing relevant experience and expertise, 2) a resume or CV, and 3) contact information for three professional references should be submitted to Dr. Patrick A. Lewis, Director of Collections & Research, via email at by Friday, October 29, 2021.

    Questions about the position and application process should also be directed to Dr. Lewis.

    About the Filson Since its founding in 1884, the Filson Historical Society has collected, preserved, and shared the significant stories of Kentucky and Ohio Valley history and culture. Its collections of art, objects, manuscripts, prints and photographs, and rare publications are used by scholars from around the world and diverse researchers in and near Louisville. Its publications, exhibits, and events bring the latest perspective on the region’s past to its public audiences.