The Smithsonian's Troubling Pattern
The appointment of Kevin Gover, a former Interior Department official with no museum experience, to head the National Museum of the American Indian is an affront to Native Americans [ "Former Interior Official to Lead Indian Museum," Style, Sept. 12].
This is the latest in a long pattern of insider deals by Smithsonian Institution administrators that has brought this wonderful organization into disrepute.
As a member of the museum's board of trustees, I was shocked. When search committee members asked if the new director's name should be brought before the full board, they were told, "No, this is a confidential matter." The board was never consulted.
The Smithsonian knew that Mr. Gover's selection would be controversial. As assistant interior secretary for Indian affairs, he was held in contempt of court in a class-action lawsuit that I and others filed over the government's mishandling of 500,000 individual Indian trust accounts. An individual with such a poor record as a government manager and no experience in museum affairs should have been vetted by the board.
This is about the role of trustees. We are not an exhibit, just for show. And we are not wooden Indians.