Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Anthropology

First Advisor

Christina Kreps

Second Advisor

Bonnie J. Clark

Third Advisor

Nancy Wadsworth


Collaboration, Decolonization, Museum controversy, Sand Creek Massacre


This thesis is a case study of the 2012 History Colorado Center exhibit, Collision: The Sand Creek Massacre, 1860s – Today. Collision was an exhibit that attempted to showcase the history of the Sand Creek Massacre – an 1864 event where well over one hundred peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho people were murdered by the 3rd Regiment of the Colorado Military District. Collision remained open for a little more than a year – this thesis interrogates the reasons behind its closure and its status as a controversial museum exhibit. The findings of this thesis show that a lack of collaboration with the Descendant Communities of the Cheyenne and Arapaho was only one of many problems at work. At the time of the exhibit, History Colorado prioritized the generation of revenue and “sustainability” over providing staff and stakeholders with a timeline conducive to the collaborative process. Additionally, Collision was developed utilizing an “audience first” methodology in order to attract visitors to the museum; History Colorado did not consider their stakeholders as an influential audience. The closure of the exhibit was ultimately facilitated by Tribal Representatives via Denver weekly paper, Westword. Journalist Patricia Calhoun’s articles exposed History Colorado’s lack of collaboration with the Tribes and in turn, public pressure demanded the closure of the exhibit. This thesis examines what can be learned from controversy, the importance of multi-vocality in exhibit development, and the decolonizing work that must be done from within museums.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Katherine Rose Hoadley


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

178 p.


Museum studies