The Smithsonian celebrates American Indian Heritage Month throughout November with a series of performances, lectures, exhibitions, family activities and tours at various museums. All programs are free unless otherwise indicated. For a full calendar of events, visit www.smithsonianeducation.org/heritage.
Note: Some events have been postponed or canceled due to travel complications posed by Hurricane Sandy. For updated information, visit www.smithsonianeducation.org/heritage.
American Indian Heritage Month Family Celebration: “Mvskoke Etvlwv (Muscogee People),” a three-day event Nov. 15-17 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day at the National Museum of the American Indian. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation celebrates its tribal history and heritage with three days of cultural presentations, demonstrations and in honor of Veterans Day, a panel with members of the Muscogee Nation Honor Guard. Muscogee singers and storytellers will be showcasing arts and crafts, the Muscogee language, tribal programs and services.
The National Museum of the American Indian will present performances by the Native Pride Dancers Friday, Nov. 9, at 11:30 and 1:30 p.m. in the museum’s Potomac Atrium. Visitors can experience the excitement of a powwow as world-champion fancy dancer Larry Yazzie (Meskwaki Nation) and the Native Pride Dancers celebrate their American Indian cultures through music and movement.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center will screen Mute Justice (22 minutes, 2011) Saturday, Nov. 3, at 2 p.m.This film tells the story of 16 languages and 166 variations that are spoken in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Concerned that the lack of interpreters in the judicial system prevents many from receiving justice, the filmmaker makes a moving case for the linguistic rights of indigenous people. A discussion with the director follows. Presented in cooperation with Cinema Tropical and Celebrate Mexico Now! with support from the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York.
Throughout November, the National Museum of the American Indian will screen The Cave (11 minutes, 2009), a Canadian short film that tells the story of a hunter as he discovers a portal to the spirit world. The museum will also show On the Ice (15 minutes, 2008), an American film that tells the story of a hunter as he drives his dog team out on the frozen Arctic Ocean in search of seals, but instead becomes a witness to murder. He knows both the victim and the killer. The screenings will take place every day except Wednesdays at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. in the museum’s Rasmuson Theater.
The National Museum of the American Indian will present “Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports.” Visitors will join commentators, scholars, authors and representatives from sports organizations for a series of panel discussions on racist stereotypes and cultural appropriation in American sports. The discussions will take place Thursday, Nov. 1, at 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. in the museum’s Rasmuson Theater.
The National Museum of the American Indian will also feature Nancy Maryboy (Cherokee) and David Begay (Navajo) in their 16-feet-high Skyscan Dome for a unique exploration of the skies. Native people have keenly observed the universe for thousands of years. Visitors will learn how Navajo constellations relate to hunting and planting cycles, ways of living in harmony with Mother Earth and Father Sky, and how Navajo Coyote stories can speak to the origins of the universe. “Navajo Skies” will take place Wednesday, Nov. 7, and Thursday, Nov. 8, at 1:15, 2, 2:45, 3:30 and 4:15 p.m. in the museum’s Rasmuson Theater.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center will present a storybook reading and hands-on activity for children of all ages. Visitors will listen to “When Animals Were People: A Huichol Indian Tale,” a tale about the Huichol people of Mexico retold by Bonnie Larson and illustrated by Modesto Rivera Lemus (Huichol). Visitors will be able to make a colorful yarn painting to take home. The reading will take place Saturday, Nov. 10, at 1 p.m. in the museum’s resource center.
The National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center will also host “Draw Now!” Saturday, Nov. 10, at 1 to 4 p.m. The workshop is presented in collaboration with the Drawing Center, DrawNow! Visitors are invited to spend a day drawing and sketching; supplies will be provided. In celebration of the new exhibition “Circle of Dance”, powwow-style dancing will be performed by Larry Yazzie (Diné) and Thirza Defoe (Anishnaabe). Artist Maria Hupfield (Anishnaabe) will demonstrate drawing techniques using the dancers as sketch subjects.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center presents “Julie Buffalohead: Let the Show Begin.” 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. The exhibition is open daily through April 28, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Arctic Journeys, Ancient Memories: The Sculpture of Abraham Anghik Ruben” is an exhibition highlighting the work of Abraham Anghik Ruben. Ruben’s sculptures envision the rich prehistory of the North American Arctic, counterbalancing the early Viking expeditions to the New World with the settlement, whaling culture and spiritual life of his Inuvialuit ancestors. Through his powerful and compelling works, the myths and legends of ancient northern cultures find new life and expression. The exhibition is open daily in the museum’s Sealaska Gallery through Jan. 2, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The National Museum of the American Indian presents “A Song for the Horse Nation,” an exhibition featuring 122 historic objects, artwork, photographs, songs and personal accounts that tells the epic story of how the return of horses to the Americas by Christopher Columbus changed everything for Indians—from the way they travelled, hunted and waged war to how they celebrated generosity, exhibited bravery and conducted ceremonies. The exhibition 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.
“A Song for the Horse Nation,” runs through Jan. 7, 2013. The exhibition’s website is at www.AmericanIndian.si.edu/exhibitions/horsenation and the exhibition’s ongoing blog is at http://blog.nmai.si.edu/main/a-song-for-the-horse-nation.
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