Amidolanne is a digital platform that brings together information about Zuni objects from collections held in external museums worldwide, to unite in a shared database based and maintained at Zuni, where Zuni members can add their own comments and corrections – using text, videos, and/or recordings – to the original descriptions attached to each object, as well as control what information to share back with the host museums. We were driven by the hypothesis that non-tribal museums and Zunis describe objects differently, since they understand the world according to different systems of knowledge.
We were able to corroborate this hypothesis during a visit AAMHC and Zuni representatives made to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University, where we found that all the descriptions attached to Zuni objects within the museum catalog were inadequate, many of them were incorrect, and in some cases there was no information at all about the objects. The findings obtained during the MAA visit reaffirmed the idea that Zuni and museum experts describe objects in a different way and moreover, the way museum experts describe Zuni objects is in most cases incorrect according to Zuni.
This collaborative catalog retains how objects are identified in the language of the museums, but it also adds the voice of the Zuni describing contextual uses of the same objects and adding personal narratives, reflecting the contextual authenticity and biographical diversity of Zuni objects.
The museums that are currently collaborating with this initiative are the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, England; the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, Japan; the American Museum of Natural History in New York; the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff; the Maxwell Museum at the University of New Mexico; the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Denver Art Museum.