Staff Biographies

“Unbound: Narrative Art of the Plains” Museum Director and Curator Bios

March 1, 2016

Kevin Gover

Kevin Gover is the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and a citizen of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. Since he began as director in 2007, the museum has opened several critically acclaimed exhibitions, including “Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian,” the largest retrospective ever of the seminal 20th-century modern painter and sculptor; “Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort,” a major exhibition of the prominent Canadian artist (Dunne-za First Nations/Swiss-Canadian); “Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian,” a spectacular permanent exhibition of 700 works in October 2010; and “A Song for the Horse Nation,” a treasure trove of stunning objects presenting the epic story of the horse’s influence on American Indian tribes.

Under Gover’s leadership, the museum’s collections search launched online to provide digital access to the museum’s objects and photographs, and the imagiNATIONS Activity Center opened in June 2012, providing a dynamic space for young visitors.

Gover was the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior from 1997 to 2000 under President Bill Clinton, where he won praise for his efforts to rebuild long-neglected Indian schools and expand tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) police forces throughout the country. His tenure as assistant secretary is perhaps best known for his apology to Native American people for the historical conduct of the BIA.

Upon leaving office, Gover practiced law at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington. In 2003, he joined the faculty at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and served on the faculty of the university’s Indian Legal Program, one of the largest such programs in the country. 

Gover received his bachelor’s degree in public and international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and his juris doctor degree from New Mexico’s College of Law. He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Princeton University in 2001.

Emil Her Many Horses

Emil Her Many Horses is a curator in the Office of Museum Scholarship at the National Museum of the American Indian. He specializes in indigenous cultures of the Central Plains and is a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation of South Dakota.

Her Many Horses served as lead curator for the museum’s inaugural permanent exhibition, “Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World,” and for “Our Peoples,” featuring the history of the Chiricahua Apache of New Mexico and the Blackfeet of Montana.   He was co-curator of the exhibition “Identity by Design: Tradition, Change and Celebration in Native Women’s Dresses” and also curated “A Song for the Horse Nation,” an exhibition shown both at the museum’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York City in 2009 and the museum on the National Mall in 2011.


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