Founding NMAI director appointed to Native Arts and Cultures Foundation

by Feb 18, 2011A&E0 comments

VANCOUVER, WA – The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) has appointed W. Richard West, Jr. to its board of directors. West is founding director and director emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C.

          West is a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma and a Peace Chief of the Southern Cheyenne. He has devoted his professional life and much of his personal life to working with American Indians on cultural, educational, legal, and governmental issues. As director of the NMAI from 1990-2007, West was responsible for guiding the successful opening of the three facilities that comprise the museum. He oversaw the creation and completion of the George Gustav Heye Center, a museum exhibition facility, which opened in New York City on October 30, 1994. He supervised the overall planning of the museum’s Cultural Resources Center, which houses its vast 800,000-object collection, and is located in Suitland, Maryland. West’s philosophy and vision for the museum were critical in guiding the architectural and program planning of the Mall museum, which opened on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on September 21, 2004. He also serves as consultant to international cultural institutions and is Of Counsel to Stetson Law Offices, P.C., where he focuses primarily on Native art and culture issues.

          Before becoming NMAI director, West practiced law at the Indian-owned Albuquerque, New Mexico, law firm of Gover, Stetson, Williams & West, P.C.; and before that, he was a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. He served as general counsel and special counsel to numerous tribes and organizations. In that capacity, he represented clients before federal, state and tribal courts, various executive departments of the federal government and Congress. West received a master’s degree in American history from Harvard University and graduated from the Stanford University School of Law with a doctorate of jurisprudence degree in 1971, where he also was the recipient of the Hilmer Oehlmann Jr. Prize for excellence in legal writing and served as an editor and note editor of the Stanford Law Review.

          “Rick West comes to us with extensive experience working in the field of Native arts and cultures and, as such, will be able to offer us the gifts of knowledge and wisdom that he has acquired throughout the years,” said Board of Directors Chairman Marshall McKay (Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation).

          Incorporated in 2007, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation is a permanently endowed national organization dedicated exclusively to the revitalization, appreciation and perpetuation of Native arts and cultures. In late 2010, the Foundation awarded its first grants totalling $394,319 to 26 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists and organizations in 12 states. 

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