Preserving the diversity of tribal traditions, lifeways and cultural values is a core concern today. Tribal museums will be places for cultural learning, employment, and source of cultural pride, and places for the public to participate and interact with tribal communities.
Tribal museums pursue two goals simultaneously. They try to give a representation of tribal life and culture by educating the general public, and they are also important cultural resources for the local tribal community itself. These museums are building and protecting collections of objects by purchasing, borrowing, and repatriating them. They are intended to produce contemporary representations of tribal life through exhibits and demonstrations. These museums would provide an alternative perspective of pride in heritage and homeland, in tribal context.
Tribal museums and archives can acquire and preserve for community use documents, photographs, oral histories, sound recordings, art and artefacts and other important aspects of tribal material and religious culture. The tribal museums may be training and learning centers for the tribal children as well as the public interested in tribal life and culture. The tribal folks may get training there to gather further information on tribes, develop documents, collect photo, artefacts in order to create treasure on tribal materials.
Usually, tribal museums that are planned to be located in tribal areas away from regular tourist centers face challenges for funding . In this context, SDC intervention for development of tribal museums in each SDC district is very relevant and timely. Often in a field level interaction with tribal folks the visitors depend upon local interpreters. Many misrepresentation of facts or misinterpretation of tribal culture is most likely to happen. The visitors can validate the information with the tribal experts associated with the museum.
The tribal museums may also be seen as culture centers towards strengthening indigenous culture and identity by fostering retention of native language, undertaking oral history projects, and supporting the work of tribal and local artists and perpetuation of indigenous artistic traditions. The museum may become the gathering place for educational and other programs as well serve as a live expression of tribal sovereignty with the focus on telling their own stories in their own ways.
As a place of communication of culture and ecosystem knowledge, tribal museums may become the focal point for interpreting local history and traditions, as well as a hub for supporting cultural revitalization and language retention. With indepth community participation, these museums can not only enhance the visitors' experience, rather, they can also provide direct benefits for a community beyond just jobs and economic support.
Action to provide needed tribal cultural teaching is the primary way of preventing cultural loss. Following tradition is a path seen by most tribal cultures as the best solution for nurturing youth toward positive community involvement, caring for the sacred environment, and a life away from negative influences. These approaches are basic to cultural retention in tribal areas today. In most tribal communities, teaching the culture within the community depends upon involvement by the elders, the keepers of the traditions. The museums would thrive to directly and indirectly work towards facilitating such cultural learning to prevent cultural loss.