Chiricahua Apache Gutálsi'á' (hide painting) representing the Na'ii'es, or puberty ceremony (detail), made by Naiche, ca. 1900. Photo by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI. (2/1417)

Our Peoples: Giving Voice to Our Histories

September 21, 2004–January 05, 2014
Washington, DC

Historically, Native people have been portrayed in textbooks in narrow or inaccurate ways. In Our Peoples, Native Americans tell their own stories—their own histories—and in this way the exhibition presents new insights into, and different perspectives on, history.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida, Tapirapé (Mato Grosso, Brazil), Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma (USA), Tohono O'odham Nation (Arizona, USA), Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation (North Carolina, USA), Nahua (Guerrero, Mexico), Ka'apor (Maranhão, Brazil), and Wixaritari (Durango, Mexico)—sometimes known as Huichol—were the first communities and tribes to share their stories with visitors in the Our Peoples gallery. Two new tribal communities added their voices in 2007, when exhibitions representing the Blackfeet Nation (Browning, Montana) and Chiricahua Apache (Mescalero, New Mexico) were rotated into the gallery, replacing the Seminole and Tapirapé installations.

The main story of Our Peoples focuses on the last 500 years of Native history and shows how the arrival of newcomers in the Western Hemisphere set the stage for one of the most momentous events in human history. In the struggle for survival, nearly every Native community wrestled with the impact of deadly new diseases and weaponry, the weakening of traditional spirituality, and the seizure of homelands by invading governments. But the story of these last five centuries is not entirely a story of destruction. It is also about how Native people intentionally and strategically kept their cultures alive.


Crow War Pony–1 (detail), Fine Art Photography by Brady Willette; pony painting by Kennard Real Bird (Crow). Collection of the National Museum of the American Indian.

A Song for the Horse Nation

October 29, 2011–January 07, 2013
Washington, DC

Through an array of 122 historic objects, artwork, photographs, songs, and personal accounts, A Song for the Horse Nation presents the epic story of the horse's influence on American Indian tribes, beginning with the return of horses to the Western Hemisphere by Christopher Columbus to the present day. The exhibition traces how horses changed the lives of Native people: from the way they traveled, hunted, and waged war to how they celebrated generosity, exhibited bravery and conducted ceremonies. It shows how horse trading among tribes was the conduit for the extensive spread of mustangs in the Plains and Plateau regions of the United States, as well as how horses became the inspiration for new artistic expressions and rich traditions that continue to this day.

This critically acclaimed exhibition first opened at the museum's George Gustav Heye Center in New York on November 14, 2009, and was on display until July 10, 2011. The Washington version doubles its exhibition space to 9,500 square feet and features 15 new objects, including a hand-painted, 19th-century Sioux tipi depicting battle and horse raiding scenes. Other highlights include a life-size horse-mannequin in spectacular, fully beaded regalia and Geronimo’s and Chief Joseph’s rifles.

This exhibition was also on view at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, N.Y., November 14, 2009–July 10, 2011.

Jimi Hendrix's patchwork leather coat (detail). On loan from Janie Hendrix, President/CEO, Experience Hendrix, LLC. Photo by Katherine Fogden, NMAI.

Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture

August 04, 2012–August 11, 2013
New York, NY

This panel and object exhibition highlights Native people who have been active participants in contemporary music for nearly a century. Musicians like Russell "Big Chief" Moore (Gila River Indian Community), Rita Coolidge (Cherokee), Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree), and the group Redbone are a few of the Native performing artists who have had successful careers in popular music. Many have been involved in various forms of popular music—from jazz and blues to folk, country, and rock. Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture tells their stories and histories, and provides visitors the opportunity to hear samples by music greats and discover musicians with whom those exceptional musicians collaborated. Visitors will also learn about artists who inspired the musical greats as well as the contemporary artists they themselves influenced.

This exhibition was also on view at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., July 1, 2010–January 2, 2011.

Abraham Anghik Ruben, Memories: An Ancient Past, 2010. Whalebone, stone, wood.

Arctic Journeys/Ancient Memories: The Sculpture of Abraham Anghik Ruben

October 05, 2012–January 01, 2013
Washington, DC

The art of Inuvialuit artist Abraham Anghik Ruben (b. 1951) portrays journeys of exploration, migration, and displacement through voyages across time and place, and into the spiritual realm. In these recent sculptures, Ruben contrasts the ancient lives of two northern peoples—Norse adventurers and Inuit (Inuvialuit) whale hunters—guiding us to a new perspective on the complex history of the North American Arctic, a history shaped by movement, contact, and change.

This exhibition is presented in conjunction with the 18th Inuit Studies Conference Oct. 24–28, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Julie Buffalohead: Let the Show Begin

October 20, 2012–April 28, 2013
New York, NY

Julie Buffalohead (Ponca) uses the iconography of childhood to explore deeper themes of storytelling, motherhood, and identity in this exhibition of her recent paintings. Soft and cuddly toy animals come to life in her work, but this sweet surface disguises the less pretty realities of parenting such as pain and worry. Buffalohead also uses these characters to attack stereotypes about Native people, exposing their artificiality by staging them as a child’s game.

C.Maxx Stevens: House of Memory

December 01, 2012–June 16, 2013
New York, NY

C.Maxx Stevens (Seminole/Muscogee) is a visual storyteller whose deeply personal, eclectic constructions tell stories about places and people from her past. Working with “found objects” and ephemeral materials such as paper, wood and hair, her art has a dark, gritty quality that is both haunting and familiar. The selected sculpture, installation and prints in this solo exhibition address memory through cultural and personal symbols, and illustrate the complexities of the contemporary Native experience.

A Century Ago: They Came as Sovereign Leaders

January 15, 2013–February 25, 2013
Washington, DC

This small photo exhibition focuses on President Theodore Roosevelt's 1905 inaugural parade and the six great chiefs who participated in the parade arriving with their own purposes in mind, representing the needs of their people. The chiefs included Buckskin Charlie (Ute), American Horse (Oglala Sioux), Quanah Parker (Comanche), Geronimo (Chiricahua Apache), Hollow Horn Bear (Brule Sioux) and Little Plume (Piegan Blackfeet). The exhibition goes beyond the intent of President Roosevelt's inaugural committee, which was to add color to the show. The six Native leaders had their own questions and actively sought President Roosevelt's attention to their concerns.

This exhibition was also on view at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., January 14–February 18, 2009.

Grand Procession: Dolls from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection

April 17, 2013–January 01, 2014
Washington, DC

Grand Procession celebrates Native identity through 23 colorful and meticulously detailed objects that are much more than dolls. Traditionally made by female relatives using buffalo hair, hide, porcupine quills, and shells, figures like these have long served as both toys and teaching tools for American Indian communities. Outfitted in intricate regalia, these dolls—on loan from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection—represent Plains and Plateau tribes and the work of five artists: Rhonda Holy Bear (Cheyenne River Lakota), Joyce Growing Thunder (Assiniboine/Sioux), Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty (Assiniboine/Sioux), Jessa Rae Growing Thunder (Assiniboine/Sioux), and Jamie Okuma (Luiseño and Shoshone-Bannock). Their superb craftsmanship and attention to detail imbue these figures with a remarkable presence and power, turning a centuries-old tradition into a contemporary art form.

Making Marks: Prints from Crow’s Shadow Press

May 17, 2013–January 05, 2014
New York, NY

Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts is a gathering place for contemporary artists, drawing Native and non-Native artists from around the world to its state-of-the-art printmaking studio, Crow’s Shadow Press. Its goal is to provide opportunities for Native Americans through artistic development. Crow’s Shadow was founded in 1992 by artist James Lavadour and others in a historic mission schoolhouse on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, in the foothills of Oregon’s Blue Mountains.

Making Marks: Prints from Crow’s Shadow Press features eighteen works by seven Native American contemporary artists—Rick Bartow (Wiyot), Phillip John Charette (Yup’ik), Joe Feddersen (Colville Confederated Tribes [Okanagan/Lakes]), Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne/Arapaho), James Lavadour (Walla Walla), Wendy Red Star (Crow), and Marie Watt (Seneca)—working in collaboration with Crow’s Shadow Master Printer Frank Janzen.

This exhibition is on view at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., January 17–May 26, 2014.

Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes

August 10, 2013–June 15, 2014
New York, NY

Juxtaposing more than one hundred contemporary and modern works with historic, ancestral objects revealing the stories, experiences, and histories of Anishinaabe life in the Great Lakes region, Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes features works by modern masters such as Norval Morrisseau, George Morrison, Blake Debassige, Daphne Odjig, and others, who, each in their own way, sought visual expression for the spiritual and social dimensions of human relations with the earth. These same sources of inspiration are visible in traditional Anishinaabe arts, such as dodem or clan pictographs on treaty documents; bags embroidered with porcupine quills; painted drums; and carved pipes, spoons, and bowls. The continuity of Anishinaabe art emphasizes traditional Anishinaabe spiritual perceptions that are very much part of Anishinaabe identity today. The exhibition provides visitors with an understanding of the Anishinaabe as contemporary citizens of North America with deep indigenous roots in the traditional Anishinaabe homeland of the Great Lakes.

Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison

October 24, 2013–February 23, 2014
New York, NY

The first comprehensive retrospective of a key Native American modernist, Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison includes drawings, paintings, prints, and sculpture that bring together concepts of abstraction, landscape, and spiritual reflection in the mind and eye of this important 20th-century artist. Half of the 80 works in the exhibition issue from the largest and most important collection of Morrison’s artwork in the country, the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul, Minnesota. The remaining works derive from important public and private collections from across the country. The exhibition is curated by W. Jackson Rushing III, Adkins Presidential Professor of Art History, and Mary Lou Milner Carver, Chair in Native American Art at the University of Oklahoma. Rushing’s teaching and scholarship explore the interstitial zone between (Native) American studies, anthropology, and art history.

Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison is organized by the Minnesota Museum of American Art and Arts Midwest, with the Plains Art Museum. The exhibition and its national tour are supported by corporate sponsor Ameriprise Financial and foundation sponsor Henry Luce Foundation. Major support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the generous contributions of individuals across the Midwest. The exhibition will travel to six museums from 2013 through 2015. Learn more at

NMAIFVC_IMO_Film_Title_HTML_Link.html NMAIFVC_IMO_Film_Person_HTML_Link.html