An interdisciplinary work that draws on the fields of rhetorical studies, Native American and Indigenous studies, and museum studies, Legible Sovereignties considers the creation, critical reception, and adaptation of Indigenous self-representation in three diverse Indigenously-oriented or owned institutions.
King tracks the exhibit spaces at the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan's Ziibiwing Center, Haskell Indian Nation University's Cultural Center and Museum, and the Smithsonian's Washington, D.C. branch of the National Museum of the American Indian over their first ten years, from their opening until the summer of 2014. Far from formulaic, each site has developed its own rhetorical approaches to reaching its publics, revealing multiple challenges and successes in making Native self-representation legible and accessible.
Through documentation and analysis of the inaugural exhibits and recent installations, interviews with curators and staff, and investigation into audience reception of these spaces, Legible Sovereignties argues that there can be no single blanket solution for effective Indigenous self-representation. Instead, Legible Sovereignties demonstrates the nuanced ways in which each site must balance its rhetorical goals and its audiences' needs, as well as its material constraints and opportunities, in order to reach its visitors and have Indigenous voices heard.
Lisa King is an assistant professor of rhetoric, writing, and Native American studies at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Her research and teaching blend interests in cultural rhetorics with an emphasis in contemporary Native American and Indigenous rhetorics, visual rhetorics, and material rhetorics. Her specific areas of focus are Indigenous museums and the support of Indigenous self-representation for multiple audiences, and how that cross-cultural education can happen in both academic and public spaces. She is of European and Delaware descent.