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Grand Procession: Dolls from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection
Now - January 5, 2014
Sealaska Gallery, 2nd Level
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, such figures have long served as both toys and teaching tools for American Indian communities. Outfitted in intricate regalia, these dolls 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. Objects on loan from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection.
Ceramica de los Ancestros: Central America's Past Revealed
Now - February 1, 2015
W. Richard West Jr. Contemporary Arts/3M Gallery, 3rd Level
This bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibition illuminates Central America’s diverse and dynamic ancestral heritage with a selection of more than 160 objects. For thousands of years, Central America has been home to vibrant civilizations, each with unique, sophisticated ways of life, value systems, and arts. The ceramics these peoples left behind, combined with recent archaeological discoveries, help tell the stories of these dynamic cultures and their achievements. Cerámica de los Ancestros examines seven regions representing distinct Central American cultural areas that are today part of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Spanning the period from 1000 BC to the present, the ceramics featured are augmented with significant examples of work in gold, jade, shell, and stone. These objects illustrate the richness, complexity, and dynamic qualities of the Central American civilizations that were connected to peoples in South America, Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean through social and trade networks sharing knowledge, technology, artworks, and systems of status and political organization.
As We Grow: Traditions, Toys, Games
3rd Level, near ImagiNATIONS Activity Center
All children play. Native American children play like any others—competing in ball games, dressing up dolls, playing in the snow. But Native children’s toys and games are more than playthings. They are ways of learning about the lives of grown men and women. They are ways of learning the traditions of our families and our people. The toys, games, and clothing in these cases come from all over North, Central, and South America, representing many tribes and many time periods.
Orientation Exhibition Cases
Potomac Atrium, 1st Level, South Wall
These eight introductory exhibition cases cover the following topics:
- Our Place in the Universe
- Native Identities
- Contact and Confrontation
- Challenges and Solutions
- Achievements and Contributions
- Learning More
• We Were Always Here: September 21, 2012-Indefinitely:
On view on the northwest landscape is Rick Bartow's (Wiyot/Mad River Band) sculpture that features Bear and Raven, Healer and Rascal.
• Buffalo Dancer II: 2010-Indefinitely:
On view outside the main entrance to the museum is George Rivera's (Pueblo of Pojoaque) 12-foot, 2-ton bronze sculpture depicting a Buffalo dancer who performs during a celebration of thanksgiving.
• Always Becoming: September 21, 2007-Indefinitely:
On view outside near the Maryland Ave. entrance to the museum is a family of five sculptures hand-built by artist Nora Naranjo-Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo, Espanola, N.M.), winner of the museum's outdoor sculpture design competition. Based on aboriginal architecture and made of organic, nontoxic materials—dirt, straw, sand, clay, wood, and moss—the tipi-like forms are from 6 to 15 feet tall and 3 to 4 inches deep. Each will take on a life of its own as the elements of nature slowly erode the organic materials over time, thus the name Always Becoming. Nora Naranjo-Morse is the first Native American woman to create an outdoor sculpture in Washington, D.C.
Return to a Native Place: Algonquian Peoples of Chesapeake
Through photographs, maps, ceremonial and everyday objects, and interactives, this small display provides an overview of the history of the Native peoples of the Chesapeake Bay region (what is now Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.) from the 1600s to the present day. The Native people of this region include the Nanticoke, Powhatan, and Piscataway tribes.
Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World
Focusing on Native cosmology and organized around one solar year, this exhibition explores the annual ceremonies of Native peoples as a window on their ancestral teachings. Under a "night sky" of fiber-optic stars and constellations, discover how celestial bodies shape the daily lives—and establish the calendars of ceremonies and celebrations—of Native peoples today. Featured communities: Mapuche (Chile), Lakota (South Dakota), Quechua (Peru), Yup'ik (Alaska), Q'eq'chi, Maya (Guatemala), Santa Clara Pueblo (New Mexico), Anishinaabe (Hollow Water, Manitoba, Canada), and Hupa (California). The exhibition also highlights the Denver (Colorado) March Powwow, the North American Indigenous Games, and the Day of the Dead—seasonal celebrations that bring Native peoples together.
Our Peoples: Giving Voice to Our Histories
This exhibition discusses events that shaped the lives and outlook of Native peoples from 1491 to the present. The first part of the exhibition reveals the forces that affected the lives of Native peoples; it shows how Native peoples have struggled to maintain traditions in the face of adversity, and explains why so little of this history is familiar. The second area consists of eight small galleries that recount the histories of individual tribes: Blackfeet (Montana), Chiricahua Apache (New Mexico), Kiowa (Oklahoma), Tohono O'odham (Arizona), Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation (North Carolina), Nahua (Mexico), Ka'apor (Brazil), and Wixarikari—sometimes known as Huichol—(Mexico). The exhibition also includes a "wall of gold" featuring over 400 gold figurines, dating back to 1490, along with European swords, coins, and crosses made from melted gold.
Our Lives: Contemporary Life and Identities
This exhibition examines the identities of Native peoples in the 21st century, and how those identities—both individual and communal—are the results of deliberate, often difficult choices made in challenging circumstances. This exhibition explores the forces in modern Native life that Native peoples are profoundly influenced by—their families and communities, the language they speak, the places they live and identify with, and their own self determination. Eight communities contributed their stories to this telling: the Campo Band of Kumeyaay Indians (Southern California), urban Indian community of Chicago (Illinois), Yakama Nation (Washington State), Igloolik (Nunavut, Canada), Kahnawake Mohawk (Quebec, Canada), Saint-Laurent Metis (Manitoba, Canada), Kalinago (Dominica), and Pamunkey (Virginia).
Window on Collections: Many Hands, Many Voices
3rd and 4th levels
This permanent display of more than 3,500 items provides a window into the the museum's collection and reveals the remarkable breadth and diversity of Native American objects. Housed in drawers and glass-fronted cases on the third and fourth levels, objects are arranged by categories, including beadwork, peace medals, arrowheads and other projectile points, and animal objects. Beneath the display cases are interactive computers that provide more information about each object.
Indoor Sculptures: Tsimshian Totem Pole and Sacred Rain Arrow
1st Level, Potomac Atrium, and 3rd Level, near Our Lives
- Sacred Rain Arrow (1988, 94" x 58"): Allan Houser's (Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache) bronze sculpture represents the legend of a young Apache warrior selected in times of drought to shoot a sacred arrow to the heavens carrying his people's prayer for rain to the Spirit World. Third Level, near entrance to Our Lives.
- Tsimshian Totem Pole (2012): David Boxley’s (Tsimshian) 22-foot-tall cedar totem pole depicts the legend of Eagle and Young Chief: A young boy frees an eagle from a fishing net. Years later, after the boy has become chief, the eagle returns the favor by providing fish when the chief’s village faces starvation. First Level, Potomac Atrium (installed January 14, 2012; Permanent)