WASHINGTON – The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian will open the “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations” exhibit Sept. 21 during the museum’s 10th anniversary on the National Mall.
The exhibit is the museum’s most ambitious effort yet, presenting the Native nations’ individual treaties side-by-side in their largest historical collection ever presented to an audience. The exhibition focuses on eight treaties representing the approximately 374 ratified between the United States and the Native nations, on loan from the National Archives. Each document details and solidifies the diplomatic agreements between the United States and the neighboring Native nations.
More than 125 objects, including art and artifacts, from the museum’s collection and private lenders will be featured, including the Navajo blanket owned by Gen. William Sherman, a collection of Plains nations pipes and beaded pipe bags, peace medals given to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and the sword and scabbard of Andrew Jackson.
Video installations, archival photographs, wampum belts, textiles, baskets and peace medals highlight each historical moment and help tell the story of the early ancestors of the Native nations and their efforts to live side-by-side at the birth of the United States.
The exhibit will be on display through Sept. 1, 2018. The NMAI’s hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. It is closed on Dec. 25. Admission is free. The museum is located at 4th St. and Independence Ave. SW.
The House on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, to authorize construction of a memorial to Native Americans on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington.
“I have heard from people I represent and from outside our district that the construction of this memorial means a great deal to Native Americans who served this nation and to their families,” Mullin said. “It is important that we properly honor these brave soldiers and tell their stories for generations to come.”
Mullin’s bill allows the Smithsonian museum to raise money for the memorial; no taxpayer funding will be used.
“With the recent presentation of the Congressional gold medals to tribal code talkers, it is an appropriate time for a renewed focus and gratitude toward Native Americans who served America in our war efforts and protected our freedoms,” said S. Joe Crittenden, Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Nation and a U.S. Navy veteran from the Vietnam War. “We applaud Congress for taking the necessary steps to truly honor our warriors and the sacrifices Native families have made to defend this great country of ours.”
Mullin, a Cherokee, is one of only two Native Americans. The other is Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, a Chickasaw.
“Throughout my life, I have always been proud of my Native American heritage,” Cole said. “I am very pleased that the legislation brought to the floor by Congressman Mullin will help facilitate construction of a memorial honoring Native Americans who served our country on the battlefield. It is only right to recognize and remember the significant contributions of those Native American warriors who served our country on the battlefield with great skill and bravery, and there is no better place than the National Museum of the American Indian.”
Tribal leaders praised the passage of H.R. 2319 and its significance to Native Americans.
“We take great pride in the long history of Native American service in the armed forces of the United States,” said Chickasaw Governor Bill Anoatubby. “We owe all these brave men and women a debt of gratitude for what they have done to protect our freedom and our way of life. This memorial is one way we can express our appreciation for their service and sacrifice.”
“Congressman Mullin understands how we as Native People revere our warriors,” said John L. Berrey, Chairman of the Quapaw Tribe. “His dedication to Native Americans is truly from the heart. As the Chairman of the Quapaw Tribe we are honored to have Mullin as our representative.”
“The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma applauds the passage of Representative Mullin’s bill, honoring the dedication and sacrifice of Native veterans,” said Choctaw Chief Gregory E. Pyle. “H.R. 2319 authorizes the Native American Veterans Memorial for tribal veterans from all tribes and all wars. Some of these warriors were fighting for our country before they were even recognized as American citizens. I am very pleased with the passage of this bill and very proud of all the Choctaw veterans and the many other Native soldiers who will be represented by this memorial.”
WASHINGTON – The creation of a national Native American veterans memorial moved closer to reality Wednesday, with the House Natural Resources Committee’s approval of enabling legislation.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., now goes to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
“Oklahoma has been blessed with countless Native American veterans, including my grandfather Kenneth Morris,” said Mullin, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. “It is important that we properly honor these brave soldiers and tell their story for generations to come. This memorial to our Native American veterans will serve as a small measure of thanks for their service and sacrifice to this great nation.”
A Native American veterans memorial was authorized in 1994 as part of the National Museum of the American Indian. Mullin’s bill allows the memorial to be erected outside rather than inside the museum, as specified in the 1994 act. An outdoor memorial is considered more feasible.
The memorial is to be built with private contributions.
The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), a Smithsonian Institution museum on the National Mall filled with Native artifacts and representations of contemporary Indian experiences, is coping with the aftermath of a tragic death there November 23.
The apparent suicide occurred while the museum was open with hundreds of visitors inside. Witnesses told local news outlets that an adult male jumped from a top floor of the building onto the main atrium of the space, where traditional Indian ceremonies are regularly held.
The museum was evacuated after his fall, and the museum re-opened the following day for regular business hours.
John Gibbons, a spokesman for the Smithsonian, told the Associated Press the man was visiting the facility with his family. “He was visiting with his family, but was alone at the time,” Gibbons said. His family was someplace else in the building.”
One concern that museum staffers are working to address—beyond the immediate safety and clean-up issues—is making sure the space won’t be emotionally affected into the future.
“We did have a smudging on Sunday and we will have a blessing on December 5 for all staff to attend,” said Leonda Levchuk, a spokeswoman for the museum. Smudging is a part of many traditional Native American ceremonies, in which tobacco and cedar and other herbs are used to purify and cleanse.
The museum, which opened in 2004 as part of the Smithsonian after decades of planning and fundraising, is a space that deals with Native religion and spirituality.
No staffers want Native Americans who regularly visit the space to feel that its energy has been negatively affected. Real estate agents have talked about similar concerns when trying to sell properties where tragedies, like suicide, have occurred.
Some who have coped with such circumstances have gone so far as to hire priests and other religious experts to exorcise spaces after suicide, as did singer Olivia Newton-John after a contractor died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at her house in August.
Beyond this emotional aspect, there is concern among some staffers that the suicide could potentially affect tourists desire to visit if they fear safety issues at the museum. The man would have had to climb over a four-foot wall and rail at the area he was seen by witnesses, according to news reports.
The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the incident.
This month, a tribal museum in Pendleton is going Pop Art. Tamastslikt Cultural Institute is the place that celebrates Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla tribal culture. But right now it’s exhibiting a series of Andy Warhol panels, in a collection entitled “Cowboys and Indians”. This is one of several events the museum planned to mark a milestone.
The ten panels and additional material are on loan to Tamastslikt from the Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York. Tamastslikt curator Randall Melton says the images are evenly divided among the Cowboys – iconic western figures like General Custer and John Wayne – and Indians – images Warhol obtained from what became the National Museum of the American Indian.
Melton explains, “People kind of give you the ‘Huh? How does that fit into a tribal interpretive center?’ “
He says this show is a departure from the museum’s usual cultural program, but an intentional one. The Tamastslikt show marks the first time these works have travelled. They’re typical of Warhol’s style – photographs, done up in silkscreen, then painted with lots of vibrant color.
Dorothy Cyr a tribal member who works next door at the Wild Horse Casino, brought her 12 year old son Zech to see the show.
“It was nice,” the younger Cyr said, strolling amid the panels. “It was really odd the way he uses his art, how he made all the colors.”
Dorothy Cyr added, “I think it’s great opportunity for our tribe to have such works displayed on our reservation.”
The museum regularly pulls in visitors to the casino, but this exhibition, coinciding with Tamastslikt’s 15th anniversary, is intended in part to draw people coming to town for the Pendleton Roundup later this month, and anyone who may not have had the chance to see Warhol’s works before.
Pendleton resident Sue Petersen, who attended the opening, said she just missed a Warhol exhibition in San Francisco some years ago and was glad to see these works in town.
“I think this is just totally awesome,” Petersen said. “I’m blown kind of out of the park, I gotta see the rest of them.”
Warhol had suffered some health problems by the time these works were completed in 1986. He’d survived a gunshot wound, and worked with a lot of assistants. Some critics believe his later works lack some of the snap and wit of earlier pieces.
After seeing the panels, Jubertino Arranda, a young artist, said he shares some of those reservations.
“I personally do like a lot of earlier work,” Arranda said. “For me, it was very hit and miss after his brush with death.”
But Arranda still drove all the way from Walla Walla to see the show opening, and loved the technique, and Warhol’s elevation of everyday objects in some of the images. Speaking excitedly about seeing the works in person, Arranda broke off, saying, “Oh, gosh, he was so smart, I think he was really ahead of his time.”
Loretta Alexander is a retired painter herself, a Cayuse tribal member, and the mother of painter Philip Minthorne, whose has a vivid canvas hanging in an adjacent gallery room. She nods in approval at the Warhols’ temporary gallery.
“I liked it,” she said. “And the woman and the baby is the one I liked the best.”
That image, of an unidentified tribal woman with an infant on her back, is one of the few in the exhibition featuring an actual Native American person, notes Curator Randall Melton. Cowboys are represented with figures from Annie Oakley to Teddy Roosevelt. But, in choosing his tribal subjects, Warhol often opted for images like shield designs or an Indian head nickel. Melton wonders if the choice might have been intentional.
“It’s interesting to me that he chose these people versus these objects,” Melton said. “I was talking with someone who said that’s how Indian people were seen, things to be moved out of the way for Westward expansion.”
Melton says a lot of people expressed surprise that a tribal museum might consider including a group of images with stereotypical imagery – sometimes painful imagery -for native people. He points to a panel featuring an iconic photo of Geronimo staring directly into the camera.
Melton says the photo was taken after the Apache leader was forced to surrender to the U.S. Army. But Melton says gallery viewers are invited to draw their own conclusions about Warhol’s treatment of the image, and consider what the artist was trying to say.
“The reasoning why he put these images together the way he did,” Melton said, “it’s a statement on the idea of the old west, how thats more myth than fact.”
Also, Tamastslikt’s Executive Director Bobbie Conner points out shows like this, open to interpretation, also present the museum another chance to do its job.
“One of the goals of the project,”Conner explains, “is to break down stereotypes, and to replace those stereotypes with new information.”
Tamastslikt’s regular exhibitions are geared toward cultural and historical exhibitions about tribes represented in the region.
Conner says the museum is doing pretty well, with over 600,000 visitors to the building. After 15 years, the museum is still paying down some of the debt associated with its construction. Conner says she takes deep pleasure seeing the direct access to history the museum unlocks for tribal members and others. Young people trained as teenaged tours guides when the museum opened now have young families of their own, and are bringing their own kids to shows like the Warhol exhibition.
Conner remembers riding horseback as a child in the field where the museum now stands, at the base of rolling hills, next to the tribe’s busy Wild Horse casino.
“Of all the things you could grow up to be,” she recalls, “this was never in my mind’s eye. Our tribe is less than three-thousand members, for us to have this 80 million resort here, including the museum is 180 degrees from when I was a child here. I’m still sometimes surprised I get to work here.”
Tamastslikt will keep Warhol’s Cowboys and Indians on display through October 26th.
WASHINGTON – For the first time in their histories, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services will co-host a special exhibit of the Indian Country Law Enforcement Officers Memorial during the 2013 National Police Week. The special exhibit will be located in the Museum’s Potomac Atrium from May 13 through 17.
“National Police Week is an important opportunity to educate the public about the Indian Country Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and honor those in law enforcement who have given their lives in the line of duty in Indian Country,” said Kevin K. Washburn, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs. “I want to thank the National Museum of the American Indian and its director, Kevin Gover, for co-hosting this special exhibit on the Memorial.”
“The National Museum of the American Indian is pleased and proud to host this special exhibit of the Indian Country Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in conjunction with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services,” said Museum Director Kevin Gover (Pawnee). “It is only fitting that the Museum, which is home to so much of Indian Country’s history, should acknowledge during National Police Week those law enforcement officers who have given their lives to protect Indian people.”
The Indian Country Law Enforcement Officers Memorial includes the names of 101 tribal, state, local and federal law enforcement officers working on federal Indian lands and in tribal communities who have died in the line of duty since the mid-1800s. It is located at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, N.M.
First dedicated on May 7, 1992, at the United States Indian Police Academy then in Marana, Ariz., both the Memorial and Academy were moved to their present site on the Center’s Artesia campus and re-dedicated there on May 6, 1993. Each year since 1991, the Office of Justice Services has hosted a service at the site to honor the officers on the Memorial.
The special exhibit, which is maintained by the Office of Justice Services at its headquarters in the Department of the Interior building in Washington, D.C., includes a plaque with all of the names inscribed on the Memorial, a binder with officer profiles, a display case of police badges, and a Book of Remembrance that visitors can sign.
According to the website of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, President John K. Kennedy in 1962 proclaimed May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date fell as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress the same year, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
Established in 1989 through an Act of Congress, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is an institution of living cultures dedicated to advancing knowledge and understanding of the lives, languages, literature, history and arts of the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. For more information about the museum and its public program schedules, visit www.AmericanIndian.si.edu.
The BIA Office of Justice Services’ mission is to enhance public safety and protect property in Indian Country by funding or providing law enforcement, corrections and tribal court services to the nation’s federally recognized tribes. It operates 36 law enforcement programs, oversees 152 tribally operated law enforcement programs, coordinates emergency preparedness support on federal Indian lands by working cooperatively with other federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies throughout Indian Country, and provides training and professional development to BIA and tribal law enforcement through the U.S. Indian Police Academy in Artesia, N.M.