Secrecy shrouded hiring of new NMAI director

The search committee that interviewed candidates for the new director of the National Museum of the American Indian kept the process secret, even from the museum's board of trustees.

Eight of the trustees -- or about a third of the board -- were so upset that they held a conference call with the Smithsonian deputy secretary and chief operating officer yesterday. But they were told that the decision was final.

"I was really in the dark. I just feel it is the Smithsonian way of doing things. We were informed that it was the sole responsibility of the secretary. We can cry spilt milk but it is done," Phyllis Young, the board secretary and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, told The Washington Post.

Dwight A. Gourneau, the board chairman and a member of the search committee, acknowledged missteps in communication. "I can understand the trustees feeling they lacked status or information, and being frustrated with the process, but the process was what it is," he said.

Christian Samper, the acting Smithsonian secretary, said he stood by his decision to hire Kevin Gover, the former head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. "I personally interviewed two [final] candidates, and in the end it was my decision," he said.

Get the Story:
Director's Selection Rankles Trustees At Indian Museum (The Washington Post 9/19)

Relevant Links:
National Museum of the American Indian -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Kempthorne -

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