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A Meaningful Morning

Posted on Jun 27, 2018 by in The OFI Blog |

Smithsonian Interns and Fellows in the NMAI Americans Exhibit

Powerful images, powerful words. There is no better way to describe the 6/21/18 Morning in the Museum with the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).  NMAI is designed completely in collaboration with tribes and native communities from across the hemisphere.

Last week, a group of 40 interns and fellows from across the Smithsonian participated in a guided learning experience of two of NMAI’s exhibits, two hours before the museum opened to the public. Interns and fellows learned about NMAI’s history, collection, and building architecture, in addition to the two featured exhibits: Americans and Nation to Nation.

The Nation to Nation exhibit highlighted the importance of treaties, even though they were often broken, in establishing sovereignty for American Indian tribes and communities. The exhibit spanned from the earliest treaties to the newest addition of a mile marker post from the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) Protests, emphasizing a continuing narrative of American Indian strength and endurance in the face of adversity.

The Americans exhibit encouraged a continuing dialogue of how American Indian imagery has been used and oftentimes, misused, in popular American culture. Interns and fellows shared how certain images made them react positively and negatively, further asserting that NMAI is not designed to illicit sympathy for American Indians, but rather empathy.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this Morning in the Museum! A special thank you to all the NMAI staff that made this event possible, and to Mandy Van Heuvelen and Ami Temarantz for being our gracious guides through this experience.

Interns and Fellows pose for a group photo on NMAI’s balcony