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Illinois State Museum names new Director of Tribal Relations

Logan Pappenfort
Logan Pappenfort

Logan Pappenfort, interim director of Dickson Mounds Museum and former second chief for the Peoria tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, has been named director of tribal relations for the Illinois State Museum (ISM), a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

Pappenfort will be responsible for building tribal relationships on behalf of the Illinois State Museum and the State of Illinois. He will also ensure the state abides by the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, and other relevant national regulations and state statutes.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to create long lasting partnerships between the state of Illinois and the tribal nations which call it home.,” Pappenfort said. “There is no easy path to forging the necessary relationships between the museum and descendant communities. However, during my time here, I have seen the dedication of the ISM staff and know that we have the institutional will to do the right thing.”

IDNR Director Natalie Phelps Finnie said Pappenfort’s professional and personal experience make him an excellent fit for the position of tribal relations director.

“I’m very excited to work with Logan and to learn from him,” Finnie said. “As a removal state, Illinois has a lot of work to do to strengthen our tribal relations. We have a heightened responsibility to work with tribal partners and to listen to their asks of the Illinois State Museum and state government.”

“Tribal relations are incredibly important for the future of the Illinois State Museum,” said ISM Interim Director Jenn Edginton. “We are lucky to have Logan joining in this role to ensure Indigenous voices are front and center as we move into a new chapter of the Museum.”

Pappenfort is a citizen of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. From 2018 to 2021 he served as second chief, an elected position in the federally recognized tribe. He also served as director of cultural preservation from 2015 to 2021, gaining extensive experience with the National Historic Preservation Act and working with institutions across the Peoria Nation’s ancestral lands to protect Peoria cultural and sacred sites.

He joined the Illinois State Museum in 2021 as curator of anthropology at Dickson Mounds State Museum in Lewistown. In April 2022 he became interim director of the museum – a position he will continue to hold until a replacement is named.

Pappenfort has an anthropology degree from Kansas State University. He is a member of the Illinois State Historical Society Advisory Board, the Decolonization Committee for the Illinois State Museum, and the museum’s NAGPRA and exhibit development committees.

Pappenfort is the second person to hold the position of director of tribal relations for the Illinois State Museum. The previous director departed in March.


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