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April 01, 2005

American Indian Studies Expert to Retire

Seattle—A strong proponent of American Indian studies and a museum scholar, Dr. James Nason is retiring after 34 years. Nason was head of the Anthropology Division and Curator in Pacific and American Ethnology at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, in Seattle. In addition to his work at the Burke Museum, Nason was also a Professor in the Department of Anthropology, an Adjunct Professor in the American Indian Studies Center and a Faculty Associate in the Canadian Studies Program at the University of Washington, Seattle.
Throughout his career he has been involved with the creation, design, and development of Native American museums in the Pacific Northwest. In recent years he served as a consultant on the architectural program design and exhibit programs for the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Nason has also provided development assistance to numerous local organizations including the Wing Luke Asian Museum, Seattle Arts Commission, and the Museum of History and Industry.
Dr. Nason was pivotal in establishing the Burke Museum's Native American policies, (particularly as they pertain to the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act or NAGPRA), which are among the most progressive in the nation. He helped establish the Burke Museum as a major facilitator in the creation of Northwest tribal museums over the past 30 years, and has led numerous tribal staff training programs. Additionally, he recently co-
Since 1970, Dr. Nason has taught 41 different courses in 4 different fields – American Indian studies, anthropology, history and museology, 33 of which he created. He has chaired or served on numerous Ph.D. committees in the fields of anthropology, art history, communications, history, music, education and political science. He has served on more than 200 master’s committees in a variety of fields, chairing 128 in museum studies. Throughout his career, Dr. Nason’s efforts have been fundamental in the growth of the Burke Museum: he has curated 21 permanent exhibits, 20 temporary exhibits and 6 traveling exhibits presenting information from all over the world, and in the first 15 years in the Museum he doubled the size of the Ethnology collections. He has also created one of the nation’s first research projects on pesticide contamination in collections, working with Dr. Rolf Hahne, now retired from the University of Washington’s Department of Environmental Health.

Nason led the way in establishing the profession of museum studies at the University of Washington. The UW program is now one of the premier programs nationally. He founded the Graduate Museology Program in 1972, which he directed from 1972 to 1985 and again from 1993 to 2004, creating a Certificate in Museum Studies through UW Extension during the same time. He also served as divisional dean for the Social Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences from 1985 to 1991 and as director of the American Indian Studies Center from 1991 to 1997. In addition, he co-founded the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania, an international scholarly organization on Oceanic Studies, and the Institute for Ethnic Studies in the U.S., a grant funding agency for faculty research at the University of Washington.
Dr. Nason is currently serving on the executive committee for the American Indian Museums Association, the programs committee for the National Museum of the American Indian, and is a technical advisor for the Squaxin Island Tribal Museum. He will continue to work on related projects for the Burke Museum and the Museology Program.

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The Burke Museum is located at the corner of NE 45th St and 17th Ave NE, on the University of Washington campus. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm daily, and until 8 pm Thursday. Admission is $8 general, $6.50 senior, $5 student/ youth. Admission is free to children 4 and under, Burke members, UW students, faculty, and staff. Admission is free to the public on the first Thursday of each month. Call 206-543-5590 or visit www.burkemuseum,org.

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