Archive

CARVING MYTHS OUT OF HISTORY: THE DYING TECUMSEH

January 10, 2014

The National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) cosponsored Carving Myths out of History: The Dying Tecumseh. The program at the Smithsonian American Art Museum featured a gallery talk by SAAM sculpture curator Karen Lemmey that highlighted Ferdinand Pettrich’s sculpture, The Dying Tecumseh. Following her talk, R. David Edmunds, Watson Professor of American History at the University of Texas at Dallas and author of Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership, joined Lemmey to discuss the famed Shawnee war chief and the myth and memory of this sculpture, once displayed in the U.S. Capitol. Renée Gokey (Eastern Shawnee/Sac-and-Fox), educator at the National Museum of the American Indian, read an excerpt from one of Tecumseh’s greatest speeches.


Engineering the Inka Empire: A symposium on sustainability and ancient technologies

November 14, 2013

One of civilization’s most impressive engineering achievements, the Inka Road (or Qhapaq Ñan) traversed the Inka Empire, which encompassed large territories of present-day Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile. The symposium explored new theories and discoveries about the construction of the Inka Road and how these ancient techniques can be applied by modern engineers and city planners. Insightful presentations by noted international engineers and scholars illuminated the planning, building, and sustainability of the magnificent Inka roads that five hundred years ago integrated the rugged, mountainous world of the Andes. Cosponsored by the National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian Latino Center, this symposium was supported with internal Smithsonian funds from the Consortium for World Cultures.


Symposium: Revealing Ancestral Central America

September 8, 2013

The Smithsonian Latino Center and the National Museum of the American Indian cosponsored this symposium to celebrate the exhibition Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed, on view at the NMAI, and to mark the publication of the Smithsonian book, Revealing Ancestral Central America, edited by Rosemary A. Joyce. The program featured leading voices in the interpretation and recovery of the region’s rich indigenous heritage.


Living Earth Symposium: Tribal ecoAmbassadors

July 20, 2013

Communities are the places where individuals join together in powerful ways to make change. Across the United States, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists, tribal college and university professors, and Native students have embarked on projects to help community residents become part of an environmentally conscious future. These Tribal ecoAmbassadors describe the innovative and locally relevant solutions they are developing to protect public health and the environment—from creating carbon-negative and sustainable building materials to participatory air quality monitoring to exploring the impacts mercury and other toxics have on human health. Presented in partnership with the EPA.


Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports

February 7, 2013

Sports writers, scholars, authors, and representatives from sports organizations engaged a capacity audience with lively panel discussions on racist stereotypes and cultural appropriation in American sports. Speakers explored the mythology and psychology of sports stereotypes and mascots, and examined the retirement of "Native American" sports references and collegiate efforts to revive them despite the NCAA's policy against "hostile and abusive" nicknames and symbols. The day-long symposium ended with a spirited community conversation about the name and logo of the Washington, D.C., professional football team, with sports writers from the Washington Post and USA Today, along with eminent members of the D.C. community.

Related resources:
The symposium advances a movement endorsed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 2001 and addressed last year by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

In 2005 the American Psychological Association (APA) called for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams, and organizations. The APA's position is based on a growing body of social science literature that shows the harmful effects of racial stereotyping and inaccurate racial portrayals, including the particularly harmful effects of American Indian sports mascots on the social identity development and self-esteem of American Indian young people. See also “Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots,” Stephanie A. Fryberg, University of Arizona; Hazel Rose Markus, Stanford University; Daphna Oyserman, The University of Michigan; Joseph M. Stone, Stanford University.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) policy limiting the use of Native American mascots, nicknames, and imagery at NCAA championships.

A broad list of resources examining the origins of Native American mascots and the history of Native American resistance to them is available on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, American Indian Studies Program website.

Entities Opposing ‘Indian’ Sports References,” compiled by The Morning Star Institute, October 2009.

Kevin Gover, “Native Mascots and other Misguided Beliefs,” American Indian Magazine (Fall 2011): 10-13.

Linda M. Waggoner, “On Trial—The Washington R*dskins’ Wily Mascot: Coach William 'Lone Star' Dietz,” Montana, The Magazine of Western History (Spring 2013): 24-47.

Case No. 339242, William Henry Dietz, Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation. The content of this record—the case files from an FBI investigation for the 1919 trial of Dietz—is referenced in an article by Linda M. Waggoner, “On Trial—The Washington R*dskins’ Wily Mascot: Coach William 'Lone Star' Dietz,” that appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Montana, The Magazine of Western History. This record has since been provided to the NMAI by Ms. Waggoner as supplementary information to the original article.


This Indian Country: American Indian Activists and the Place They Made

January 18, 2013

Noted historian Frederick E. Hoxie—winner of 2012’s American Indian History Lifetime Achievement Award and a founding trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian—presents an illustrated talk about his book This Indian Country: American Indian Activists and the Place They Made, a story of political activism with victories hard-won in courts and campaigns rather than on the battlefield. As Indian lawyers, tribal leaders, activists, and commentators sought to bridge the distance between indigenous cultures and the republican democracy of the United States through legal and political debate, they profoundly shaped the modern political landscape. In the process of defining a new language of “Indian rights” and creating a vision of American Indian identity, they entered into a dialogue with other activist movements, from African American civil rights movements to women’s rights and other progressive organizations.


Maya from the Inside: The 13 Bak´tun as Challenge to the Western Mind

December 15, 2012

December 21, 2012, marked the much-anticipated passing of the 13 Bak´tun in the ancient Maya calendar system. As we approached the day that marks this turn of eras in the calendric cycle, Dr. Victor Montejo offered a fascinating presentation on the deep meaning of Maya culture and history, and on the Maya Calendar, in contrast with the plethora of misinformation, including end-of-the-world scenarios, available in popular culture on this topic.

An internationally recognized Native scholar and author, Victor Montejo is a Jakaltek Maya originally from Guatemala. Previously a professor and chair of the Native American Studies Department at the University of California, Davis, Montejo has now returned to live in Guatemala. He was formerly Minister of Peace in the Guatemalan Republic. Montejo also served as a member of the Guatemalan National Congress from 2004 to 2008.


Nixon and the American Indian: The Movement to Self-Determination

November 15, 2012

President Richard Nixon dramatically changed the federal government’s Native American policy. He directed it toward restoration and self-determination and away from termination of the reservations and destruction of Native cultures. Significant legislation was submitted, litigation instituted, and direction provided by presidential appointees and legislative leaders during Nixon’s time in office from 1969 to 1974. The White House and administration officials who worked with President Nixon on these policies discuss this subject and what it means to the American Indian. Contemporary leading Native American law scholars address the progressive results of all of these activities that were instituted more than forty years ago. Cosponsored with the Richard Nixon Foundation and the National Archives.


Stellar Connections: Explorations in Cultural Astronomy

October 20, 2012

In indigenous worldviews where humanity, nature, and the spiritual realm are closely connected, the night sky provides spiritual and navigational guidance, timekeeping, weather prediction, and stories and legends that tell us how to live a proper life. Cultural astronomy—also referred to as archaeoastronomy or ethnoastronomy—explores the distinctive ways that astronomy is culturally embedded in the practices and traditions of various peoples. In this symposium, experts Michael Wassegijig Price, John MacDonald, Gary Urton, and Babatunde Lawal discuss the cultural astronomy traditions of four indigenous regions/cultures: Ojibwe, Inuit, Andean, and African. Stellar Connections, a partnership between the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African Art in furtherance of indigenous cultural astronomy, was presented in conjunction with the exhibition, African Cosmos: Stellar Arts, on view at the National Museum of African Art from June 20–December 9, 2012.


Jim Thorpe: World's Greatest Athlete

August 17, 2012

Native American athlete Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox, 1888–1953) was the greatest all-around athlete of his age and probably any other. An Olympic gold medalist in track and field, he also excelled in football, baseball, basketball and lacrosse. Thorpe biographer Robert W. Wheeler shared stories about the athlete from some of the many Thorpe contemporaries whom he interviewed. Rare photographs and voice recordings of Jim Thorpe, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jack Dempsey, Burt Lancaster, and others added drama to the presentation. Dr. Florence Ridlon explored the controversy surrounding Thorpe’s Olympic medals, and Rob Wheeler discussed the movement to return Thorpe's remains from Pennsylvania to be buried on Sac and Fox Nation land in Oklahoma. This program was presented in conjunction with the NMAI exhibition, Best in the World: Native Athletes in the Olympics.


Impacts of Climate Change: Our Rivers and Coasts

July 21, 2012

Expert speakers focused on climate change-induced threats to our aquatic and coastal environments, and discussed restorative ecological strategies. Larry McDermott (Algonquin) addressed the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on the habitat of the American River Eel, while Tina Retasket (Siletz) examined the effect of red tides on intertidal Siletz foods and the effect of climate change on the timing of coastal salmon runs. Eli Enns (Tla-o-qui-aht) spoke about building a conservation economy and adapting to climate change in tribal parks in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, British Columbia, Canada.


(Re)Presenting America: The Evolution of Culturally Specific Museums

April 25, 2012

This program features an important conversation about the role of “ethnic” or “culturally specific” museums with museum directors and scholars from across the National Mall and beyond.


The Health Benefits of Chocolate

February 11 & 12, 2012

Dr. Catherine Kwik-Uribe provided a fascinating illustrated overview of some of the historical uses of cacao, as well as the latest scientific research on chocolate, cocoa, and cocoa flavanols. Dr. Kwik-Uribe is the director of research and development for Mars Botanical, a scientific division of Mars Chocolate North America.


Our Warrior Spirit: Native Americans in the U.S. Military

December 2, 2011

Native Americans have served in the U.S. military since the American Revolution, and by percentage serve more than any other ethnic group in the armed forces. In this special program, Native veterans shared their heroic and unforgettable stories of service in conflicts, and noted scholar and author Herman J. Viola, curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution, chronicled the roles of Native soldiers from 1770 to the present, including tales of tragedy, humor, loyalty, and conflict.

The program featured a panel of American Indians who have served our country in the armed forces, including Debra Kay Mooney (Choctaw), an Iraq War veteran who organized and hosted a powwow in a war zone in Iraq in 2004; Chuck Boers (Lipan Apache/Cherokee), an Iraq War veteran and the recipient of two Bronze Star and three Purple Heart medals; John Emhoolah (Kiowa), a Korean War Veteran who joined the Oklahoma Thunderbird Division when he was still in high school and later helped lobby for the passage of the Native American Religious Freedom Act; and Joseph Medicine Crow, a World War II veteran who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Barack Obama.


Fact or Fiction?: The United States Courts’ Use of History to Shape Native Law Jurisprudence

October 7, 2011

Since the first court decision to articulate Native American law back in 1823, our nation’s courts have repeatedly invoked historical “facts” as a basis for fashioning judicial doctrines that have been prejudicial and harmful to Native Americans. This important symposium reveals that many of our modern Native law doctrines are based in fiction, not fact. Join us as we explore the historical foundations of key court decisions impacting Native Americans. Speakers include Stuart Banner, UCLA School of Law; Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), Crowe & Dunlevy, Oklahoma; Mary Kathryn Nagle (Cherokee), Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, New York; and Lindsay Robertson, University of Oklahoma College of Law. Moderated by Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the symposium is cosponsored by the National Native American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association Indian Law Section.


Quantum Leap: Does “Indian Blood” Still Matter?

September 16, 2011

Unlike other ethnic minorities in the United States, American Indians are defined not solely by self-designation but by federal, state, and tribal laws. Blood quantum—originating from archaic notions of biological race and still codified in contemporary policy—remains one of the most significant factors in determining tribal membership, access to services, and community recognition. This concept, however, is not without debate and contestation. This symposium featured Native scholars who approach this important and complex topic from various perspectives. Sociologists Eva Marie Garroutte (Boston College) and C. Matthew Snipp (Stanford) joined historian Malinda Lowery (UNC Chapel Hill) and anthropologist Kimberly TallBear (UC Berkeley) as the panelists at this timely program moderated by National Museum of the American Indian historian Gabrielle Tayac.


Beyond Extinction: Consciousness of Taíno and Caribbean Indigeneity

August 26, 2011

This symposium featured representative speakers from a multidisciplinary delegation of scholars on Taíno and Caribbean indigenous themes who discussed the survival of Taíno language, identity, and material culture in contemporary Caribbean consciousness. Participants included archaeologist Osvaldo García Goyco, historian Alejandro Hartmann Matos, biologist Juan Carlos Martínez Cruzado, and architect Cristian Martínez Villanueva. Roberto Borrero, president, United Confederation of Taíno People, served as respondent. Moderated by José Barreiro, director of the Office of Latin America at the National Museum of the American Indian, the program was organized by the National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian Latino Center.


Creating a Climate of Change: A Sustainable Future for the Living Earth

July 23, 2011

Acclaimed social thinker Jeremy Rifkin joined authors and educators Gregory Cajete and Melissa K. Nelson to explore how we can connect to the empathic traditions of Native peoples and incorporate the values of sustainability in our culture. Symposium speakers shared strategies for accomplishing the cultural changes that will help us attain environmental health and balance in an endangered world—from harnessing renewable energy and sharing it with others on smart power grids that stretch across continents to revitalizing body and mind with a healthful diet and food sovereignty.


Solomon Enos, Polyfantastica: The 'Oro 'Ino, 2008. Acrylic on bristol board, 11 x 14 in.

Where Art Worlds Meet: A Conversation with Indigenous Hawai‘ian, Native American, and Aboriginal Contemporary Artists

May 20, 2011

The global indigenous art scene has experienced dynamic growth and change in the first decade of the twenty-first century. How has this rapid evolution affected indigenous contemporary artists from different regions and varying cultural backgrounds? What strategies and artistic practices are working now? Artists Puni Kukahiko, Alan Michelson, Carl F. K. Pao, and Gina Matchitt engaged these questions as they talked about the current art scene in their home regions. The program was cosponsored with Transformer Gallery and presented in conjunction with the exhibition This IS Hawai‘i.

Solomon Enos, Polyfantastica: The ‘Oro ‘Ino, 2008. Acrylic on bristol board, 11 x 14 in.


ESSENTIALLY INDIGENOUS?: Contemporary Native Arts Symposium

May 5 & 6, 2011

In the past, many discussions about Native art have focused mostly on the identity of the artist. While Indian identity has a place in the ongoing dialogue about Native art, this symposium moved the conversation forward in important ways and broke new ground by focusing on the art. What is it about a work of art by a Native artist that makes it Native? Iconography, subject matter, or aesthetic sensibility? Is it a relationship to land or ties to traditional art forms? Is there something essential we can or should define?

Video still: Nicholas Galanin, Tsu Héidei Shugaxtutaan I (2006).


Still from <i>River of Renewal </i> Courtesy of Pikiawish Partners.

Special Screening and Q&A for Earth Day

River of Renewal (2009, 55 min.) Director: Carlos Bolado

April 22, 2011

NMAI celebrated Earth Day with a special screening of the remarkable film, River of Renewal, which focuses on an extraordinary story in which a conflict over resources in Klamath Falls, Oregon, led to a consensus for conservation. Filmmakers Jack Kohler and Stephen Most took part in a discussion after the film moderated by Chris Palmer, distinguished film producer and director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University.

Video still: River of Renewal, courtesy of Pikiawish Partners (2009).


Artist Talk with Kay WalkingStick: A Painted Life

April 16, 2011

Distinguished contemporary artist Kay WalkingStick (Cherokee) delivered an insightful illustrated talk about the evolution of her painting over the last 45 years in relationship to the art and politics of the times. In richly textured and evocative paintings, WalkingStick has addressed issues of mixed ancestry, personal and collective history, and physical and spiritual relationships with the land. Her work was featured in the NMAI exhibition, Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection.


Artist Talk with Margarete Bagshaw: 3 Generations of Pushing Boundaries

March 12, 2011

In celebration of Women’s History month, contemporary artist Margarete Bagshaw (Santa Clara Pueblo) offered a lively illustrated talk about her art and that of her mother, Helen Hardin (1943–1984), and her grandmother, Pablita Velarde (1918–2006), three generations of groundbreaking painters from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. Bagshaw’s work was featured in the NMAI exhibition, Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection.


Cacao History and Science: An Uncommon Conversation

February 12 & 13, 2011

This special presentation by Dr. Howard-Yana Shapiro began with a look at the mythology of chocolate, describing the unique relationship that people have had with this tropical treasure and the remarkable role it has played in human culture through time. Dr. Shapiro, Global Staff Officer for Plant Science and External Research at Mars, Incorporated, and Adjunct Professor, University of California-Davis, then discussed this amazing plant in the context of a sustainable future and identified promising new terrain for cacao research and development.


Red, Black, and Brown: Artists and the Aesthetics of Race

January 15 & 16, 2011

Dr. Phoebe Farris (Powhatan-Renape) delivered a fascinating illustrated talk by about artists of mixed Native American, African American, and Latin American heritage whose identities are reflected in their art and who deal with themes of social justice. Primarily women, the artists reference race or identity in myriad ways, often juxtaposed with issues of gender. A professor of art and design and women's studies at Purdue University, Dr. Farris is also an independent curator, photographer, author, and art therapist.


Centuries of Change: State of the Native Nations Symposium

November 12, 2010

Centuries of Change: State of the Native Nations addressed international trends in the search for pragmatic indigenous and nation-state solutions developed with the Native peoples of the Americas. It took a particular look at the work of the Organization of American States with respect to the human rights, land rights, and civil rights of indigenous peoples. With the bicentennials of several Latin American countries taking place in 2010, as well as the 100th anniversary of the iconic House of the Americas—seat of the Organization of American States—and the fall anniversary of the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian, it celebrated a year full of historical remembrance. Cosponsored by the Organization of American States.


Living Earth/Living Waters: A Symposium

August 7, 2010

Native cultures have long recognized and celebrated the interrelatedness of all life on Earth. As we address environmental disasters that affect our oceans, this wisdom is more important than ever. At Living Earth/Living Waters, Native and non-Native scientists, leaders, and innovators discussed the latest research on the biosphere and provided a deeper understanding of the essential role the ocean—“the blue heart of the planet”—plays in sustaining every form of life. Symposium speakers demonstrated how human activity is woven into this fragile web of life, and the role we all can play in restoring and preserving it for future generations.


Preamble to the Republic: Condolence, Wampum, and the Language of Peace

July 1, 2010

When the United States was founded in 1789, American Indians had nearly 200 years of experience dealing with Europeans. During those years, Native people offered distinct protocols of diplomacy—ceremonies, forms of address, and material culture—that governed relations with the colonial powers. Benjamin Franklin published the record of treaties where these protocols formed the primary construct of negotiation. The oral traditions surrounding and informing the early protocols continue in living memory through elders and ceremonial cycles of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) longhouses. Their material legacy is found in the record of wampum and wampum belts of archeological, cultural and historical value.

At Preamble to the Republic, three representatives from a distinguished traditional family spoke on the history, culture, and meaning of the Great Law of Peace, the clanmother system, and the symbology of the longhouse leadership culture as represented in wampum and other materials.

A venerated elder of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, Chief Jake Swamp is an internationally recognized spokesperson for the traditions of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) longhouse. Ceremonially released from duties as a chief of the Wolf Clan after nearly forty years, he continues his activism as president of the Tree of Peace Society, a global peace and environment initiative. His wife, Judy Swamp, is a traditional elder of the Mohawk Nation, and his son, Skahendowaneh Swamp, is an installed speaker of the longhouse, educator, and traditional artist. A gustoweh, or traditional longhouse chief's headdress, created by Skahendowaneh Swamp is on exhibit in the Potomac Atrium exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.


The Natural World of the Hula

May 29 & 30, 2010

Hula is far more than a dance form from Hawai‘i. It is an expression of the relationship of Hawaiians to the natural elements of islands and to each other. In turn, the natural world is the source and foundation for the hula art form. NMAI visitors celebrated Hawaiian culture with Dr. Sam Gon as he explored not only the symbology of the ornamentation and Hawaiian musical instruments inherent in hula, but the spiritual underpinnings of the ecosystems and plants of land and sea, and how they shaped the undeniably Hawaiian dance called hula.

Samuel M. ‘Ohukani‘?hi‘a Gon III, senior scientist and cultural advisor for the Hawai‘i Nature Conservancy, has 30 years of experience in Hawaiian ecology, as well as extensive knowledge of Hawaiian culture, history and language. A well-known cultural practitioner of traditional chant and protocol, he underwent the traditional Hawaiian ‘uniki rites of passage under Kumu John Keolamaka‘ainana Lake to attain the status of Kahuna K?kalaleo. Gon also holds a master's degree in zoology and a doctorate in animal behavior from the University of California-Davis.


Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

April 22, 2010

NMAI marked Earth Day with special presentations by Luis Gilberto Murillo-Urrutia and Dr. Alicia Rios Hurtado. Murillo was elected governor of Chocó, Colombia, at the age of 31 after successfully instituting pioneering programs to protect biodiversity and the tropical rainforest, and to defend the land rights of Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities. As governor, Murillo won wide praise for his innovative proposals and strategies for sustainable development and environmental protection. He is currently the Vice President for Programs and Strategy at Phelps Stokes in Washington, DC.

Alicia Rios Hurtado has served as Vice-President for Research and Director of the Institute of Biodiversity at the Technological University of Chocó and currently leads the university research group on sustainable use of biodiversity. Dr. Rios Hurtado received Colombia's prestigious National Award for Scientific Merit in 2004. She is one of the nine members of the National Council of Science and Technology, and is the only woman and the only Afro-Colombian on the Council. Cosponsored with the Smithsonian Latino Center and the Embassy of Colombia.


Surveying Andean Legacy: Archaeological Research along the Inka Road System Symposium

December 8 & 9, 2009

This two-day symposium featured illustrated lectures by noted international scholars about the Qhapaq ñan, the magnificent road network developed by the Inka more than five hundred years ago. Distinguished speakers included Gary Urton (USA), Roberto Bárcena (Argentina), Victoria Castro (Chile), Mauricio Uribe (Chile), Alexei Vranich (USA), José Berenguer (Chile), Sergio Martin (Argentina), Christian Vitry (Argentina), Edmundo de la Vega (Perú), José María López Bejarano (Bolivia), José Pino (Perú), and Donato Amado (Perú). Cosponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank Cultural Center.


Indigenous Mapping: Tools for Native Politics in Panama and the World

December 4, 2009

Anthropologist and indigenous rights advocate Mac Chapin presented an illustrated lecture about a remarkable mapping project carried out with the Kuna of Panama. The maps that resulted from this innovative project are being used by the Kuna to protect their territory, strengthen their culture and political organization, and for education in their schools. Similar methodology for mapping indigenous lands has been used in Central and South America, Africa, and New Guinea. Cosponsored by the Smithsonian Latino Center.


IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas Symposium

November 13, 2009

A part of the American story has long been invisible—the story of people who share African American and Native American ancestry. Over centuries, African American and Native people came together, creating shared histories, communities, and ways of life. Often divided by prejudice, laws, or twists of history, African-Native Americans were united by a double heritage that is truly indivisible.

A capacity audience attended the IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas Symposium symposium that brought visibility to African-Native American lives and initiated a healing dialogue on African-Native American experiences for people of all backgrounds. Speakers on this vitally important topic included curators and authors Robert Keith Collins (African and Choctaw descent), Penny Gamble-Williams (Chappaquiddick Wampanoag), Angela Gonzales (Hopi), Judy Kertész, Tiya Miles, and Gabrielle Tayac (Piscataway). NMAI director Kevin Gover (Pawnee) moderated. The symposium was held on the occasion of the groundbreaking exhibition IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas, which was developed, produced, and circulated by NMAI, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The Museum extends a special thank you to our participating partners for the symposium, The Links, Incorporated, Eastern Area and the Capital City Chapter.


The Blues: Roots, Branches, and Beyond

August 22, 2009

The Blues: Roots, Branches, and Beyond provided a fascinating look at the roots of the blues and points of confluence and difference between Native and African/African American music and styles. Producer and Aboriginal arts activist Elaine Bomberry (Ojibwe/Cayuga, from Six Nations, Ontario) explored the Native connection to the blues and showed highlights from her award-winning Canadian television show, Rez Bluez TV—a popular, groundbreaking series that showcases Aboriginal blues music. Ron Welburn (African-American and Native American descent), a poet and professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, discussed his research on Native Americans in jazz and the blues and delighted the audience with clips from great vintage blues and jazz tunes. He was formerly coordinator of the Jazz Oral History Project (National Endowment for the Arts) at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University.

Musicians from the George Leach Band, the Rez Bluez All-Starz, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Corey Harris—all of whom performed in an Indian Summer Showcase concert after the program—joined the speakers for a lively question-and-answer session with the audience.


Mother Earth: Confronting the Challenge of Climate Change

June 27, 2009

Mother Earth: Confronting the Challenge of Climate Change explored how indigenous peoples are responding to the crucial challenge of climate change in creative ways, calling on traditional knowledge and adapting new technologies to craft solutions that benefit all.

Symposium speakers Patricia Cochran (Inupiat), chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council; Robert Gough of the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy (Intertribal COUP); Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez (Ribereño/Caboclo), director of international programs, Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC), Columbia University; and Deborah Tewa (Hopi), solar energy specialist and educator, offered engaging presentations and lively discussion about innovative indigenous strategies, from the Arctic to Amazonia. José Barreiro (Taino), NMAI assistant director for research, moderated the symposium.

Mother Earth is a vital part of the National Museum of the American Indian’s ongoing commitment to disseminate knowledge about sustainable living and advance understanding of human-made climate change.


From Code Talkers to Immersion: Native American Language Summit

May 12, 2009

Opening sessions of this fascinating program featured two elder warriors, Barney Old Coyote (Crow) and Samuel Tso (Navajo). Their heroic use of Native languages in wartime as code talkers was recently recognized by Congress’s passage of the Code Talker Recognition Act, first introduced in 2004 but only passed late in 2008. More than 250 people attended the day's events, representing tribal communities from Alabama, Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, New York, many more states, and from several First Nations of Canada.

Panel discussions featured directors of successful language immersion schools such as ‘Aha P?nana Leo, the Cherokee Nation, and the Piegan Institute, as well as tribal language program directors working with small speaker populations—including communities in California (Karuk), Massachusetts (Wampanoag), and Oklahoma (Euchee and Sauk). The nonprofit organization Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival, which has over many years refined the master-apprentice method of immersion language learning, also presented an interactive language training workshop. The conference was held as part of the May 11-13 National Native Language Revitalization Summit in Washington, D.C., organized with Cultural Survival and the National Alliance to Save Native Languages.


Images of the American Indian 1600–2000

December 4 & 5, 2008

With the National Gallery of Art's Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Seminars & Symposia co-organized a Wyeth Foundation for American Art Conference titled Images of the American Indian, 1600–2000, which was held on the occasion of the exhibitions George de Forest Brush: The Indian Paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington and Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian, NMAI, Washington and New York. The two-day conference presented illustrated lectures by noted scholars Nancy Anderson, Ned Blackhawk, Philip Deloria, Leah Dilworth, Kate Flint, Michael Gaudio, Katherine Manthorne, Jolene Rickard, Paul Chaat Smith, and William Truettner.


Harvest of Hope: A Symposium on Reconciliation

November 13, 2008

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, this timely and insightful forum moderated by Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian Director Kevin Gover (Pawnee/Comanche) focuses on topical issues of reconciliation and highlights national apologies made to Native peoples.

The symposium covers the eloquent apology issued in June 2008 by the Canadian government for the abuse and cultural loss suffered by Aboriginal peoples in Canada's residential schools. It includes a presentation on the Native American Apology Resolution recently passed in the United States Senate as well as an examination of reconciliation efforts in Guatemala. A wrap-up speaker considers the issues involved in apologies and reconciliation processes in a broad scope. Concluding with panel discussion and questions from the audience, Harvest of Hope seeks a deeper, more inclusive understanding of our national narratives and the experiences of the Native peoples of the Americas.


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