Thursday, November 3, 2016

The National Museum of the American Indian

Gentle Freinds,  one of my goals for this trip was to make sure to visit the Museum of the American Indian.  Here's a shot of the building from the Mall....

... and you walk around to the front and here's the door in.... the building's very distinctive curvilinear form, is supposed to evoke a wind-sculpted rock formation...

In addition to the permanent collections they had some super temporary exhibitions - one of them was about the Great Inka Raod - here are a couple of things from that exhibition...

... a picture of "Tiqzi Wiracocha" and a golden image of the same Inka creator god

... this gorgeous Inka Feathered Tunic - Peru - ca. 1000 - 1500 is a beautifully preserved Inka cocoa bag with super little Llama designs,  south coast Peru - made of cotton and ca. 1450 - 1532

Another temporary exhibit called......

... the treaties covered include the history and legacy of the US and American Indian diplomacy from the colonial period through the present ....

the room that the treaties were displayed was large and round and in the middle were some great artifacts....

... Pipe Tomahawk, ca. 1788 - 1800, Georgia made of wood, iron and silver... 
This pipe tomahawk bears two incised British Flags and the names "Bowles" and "Tustonackjajo."  It is through the William Bowles, the self-appointed director-general of the Muscogee Nation, presented the tomahawk to Muscogee leader Tustenuggee Hajo,Bowles, a non-Muscogee and a Tory, opposed the Treaty of 1790 between the US and the Muscogee Nation,

Muscogee Bandolier Bag, ca 1814 - Alabama - Wool, silk, glass beads cotton thread
This bandolier bag is said to have been captured at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, the climatic clash of the Muscogee civil war of 1813 - 14.  An estimated eight hundred men died.


George Washington wampum belt (replica), 2014 - Anthony Gonyea (Onondaga Nation, b. 1961) New Tork - Ceramic beads, leather, sinew

Following Native protocol, Washington had this wampum belt made to ratify the Treaty of Canandaigua.  The thirteen figures holding hands represent the thirteen states.  The longhouse symbolizes the Haudenosaunee.  The figures of either side are the Mohawk (Keepers of the Eastern Door) and the Seneca (Keepers of the Western Door)

One of the Treaties that really interested me was one from Californias History...  The Unratified California treaty K, 1852 - or treaty of Temecula.

you can read a transcript HERE
Another of the Treaties I found really interesting was the "Treaty of Horse Creek"  also referred to as the "Treaty of Fort Laramie"

These daguerreotypes by A Zeno Shindler are of some of the Delegates in their finest regalia...  Top Row - L to R... One Horned Elk (Ogalaga Sioux), Wi-yaka-sha or Red Plume (Blackfeet Sioux), High Toes (Cheyenne), Goose (Sioux), Bottom Row LtoR... Black Elk (tribe unknown), Friday (Arapaho) and White Antelope, Alights on a Cloud and Little Chief (all Cheyenne)

Each of the Treaties were explained with lots of information....

"Map of the Upper Great Plains and Rocky Mountain Region, 1851, Pierre-Jean DeSmet - This map defined the lands of all the nations that signed the treaty.  Created in painstaking consultation with Native Leaders, it parcels out 1.1 million square miles.  Today, it is crucial for defining original territories.  At the time, it was controversial among tribes. "You have split the country, and I don't like it," Black Hawk (Ogalaga) said."

With so many different languages being spoken the exhibition had this touch screen that you could choose a tribe and listen to a native speaker say the words spoken by a delegate in 1851 and see a translation as they are said....


"American Progress" - 1872 by John Gast 

 "Euro-Americans believed in manifest destiny - the idea that inevitable social progress justified their conquest of the continent.  There was little room for Indians in this vision.  "Providence has laid out this country on a gigantic scale," wrote Father Pierre-Jean De Smet.  "Its destiny is to march onward, and no power on earth can stop it.' "

Northern Tsitsistas (Cheyenne) painting of the 1876 Battle of teh Little Bighorn, ca. 1890's - Northern Cheyenne Reservation, Montana - Hide, Paint

"This painting represents the Lakota, Tsitsistas (Cheyenne), and Arapaho defense of their Summer hunting encampment against the U.S. Army under Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.  The battle was an overwhelming victory for Indian forces, which had experienced the years after 1851 as an unremitting succession of conflicts."

... the legacy a residue of lands left to the native populations today...

Sicangu Lakota case and Rosebud Agency weekly ration card, 1883 - Rosebud reservation, South Dakota - Hide, glass beads, metal cones, paper, ink, sinew. porcupine quills, hair and dye

There were lots more treaties to be seen and tons of information.  I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and actually went back twice, there was so much to see and read.  I would highly recommend this Museum and would also suggest a visit to the cafe - one of the best in the Smithsonian system!!  I stopped by for a quick lunch....

...  the Cafe features indigenous Native selections from all over...
I had a quick Buffalo Burger and Coke......

That's about it fro today sports fans... more to come!!

Take care,


  1. I'm so enjoying following your trip. I haven't been to DC in ages. This museum didn't even exist back when I was last there.

  2. A very interesting place to visit, my next trip to D.C. will add this to my list of sites to see. Was there a special section for The Trail of Tears and Presidents Jackson's role in the Indian removal? A sad chapter in our nations history.

  3. I would love that museum . Thanks so much for sharing all the information. I enjoyed the 2nd floor of the British Museum in Victoria as it was all about NW native tribes. Some of the natives up here still feel they have been cheated by then Gov. Stevens. They actually were. Many of them did not even know the language and they were still required to sign the treaty. A sad part of our history.

  4. I live in DC & this museum is one of my absolute favorites. You've done a wonderful review & posted such interesting information. I'm enjoying your trip report very much.

  5. It seems that abusing indigenous people started early with this country.

  6. I love this post! Agree with LDR......a wonderful review. I'm looking forward to our next day. Thank you so much.

  7. Dearest Edgar: What a beautiful Museum, wow so many lovely things to see.
    I look forward to seeing more of your photos.


  8. I so enjoyed that museum too!Although at that time there temporary exhibitions were different they were extremely interesting along the permanent ones!And I too enjoyed the restaurant as well with all the different foods!AriadnefromGreece!