Infinity of Nations

Going back to the roots and learning a bit more about Native Americans; peoples, traditions and art that were thriving here before America’s discovery by the Old World.

A sad necessity perhaps but such dedicated museums are the most effective means in rendering these cultures and their history more widely accessible to visitors.

In New York, the  museum is housed in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, one of the most splendid Beaux Arts buildings in the City with a magnificent rotunda dome.

The rotunda skylight
Inuit Woman’s Inner Parka (amauti) also known as a tuilli. It was made from caribu skin for a mother to carry her infant. It incorporates almost 140.000 beads. It was made between 1890 and 1925 when whaling flourished on the west coast of Hudson Bay and the Inuit obtained glass beads from whalers through trade.

Mississippian effigy jar. 1350-1550 AD, Clay
Mississippian long-nosed god maskettes. 1100-1500 AD, marine shell
Sisitonwan Dakota (Sisseton Sioux) gauntlet gloves. South Dakota, ca. 1880. Deer hide, cotton cloth, glass beads, ribbon. Moccasins associated with Peo Peo T’olikt (Bird Alighting, Nimi’ipuu, 1857-1935). Idaho, ca. 1880. Deer hide, glass beads, cotton thread.

”Shortly after the outbreak of the 1877 war with the United States, Chief Looking Glass declared that he wanted peace and moved his camp to Clear Creek on the 1863 reservation. Peo Peo T’olikt, who was in his twenties, was instructed by the chief to parley with militiamen and soldiers who came to the camp on July 1. The Indian camp raised a white flag, but was attacked and destroyed.

Peo Peo T’olikt was wounded in the leg, but escaped and was involved in all the subsequent battles of 1877. He lost a wife and young son in the war, but his exploits were many. Capturing the cannon at Big Hole, stealing General Howard’s mules and horses at Camas Meadows, and protecting the camp at Bear Paw are just a few.”

Allen Pinkham, Sr. (Ni Mii Puu)
Tribal historian and former National Museum of the American Indian trustee

Chilkat Tlingit canoe prow effigy, Alaska ca. 1825-1875. Cedar wood, human hair, paint, abalone shell, opercula. The Haida decorated their boats with clan designs and insignia. A Tlingit might add a canoe prow figure carved in the form of a shaman who would guide the way and warn of the approach of enemies.
Wedding dress worn by Inshata-Theumba (Susette La Flesche or Bright Eyes, Omaha, 1854-1903). Nebraska, ca. 1881. Wool

”Susette La Flesche descended from Omaha tribal leaders on both sides of her family. As a child she lived in an earth lodge, though she also attended a mission school. La Flesche witnessed the expulsion of the Ponca tribe from their homeland to Indian Territory in 1877, and the subsequent imprisonment of Standing Bear and other Poncas who had attempted to return to Nebraska. These events launched La Flesche’s career as a nationally known activist who argued against the involuntary removal of indigenous people from their homelands and for Indian citizenship rights.

La Flesche found a soulmate in Thomas Tibbles, a newspaper reporter for the Omaha Herald who followed the Ponca case. Schooled in Western and Omaha culture and bilingual, La Flesche chose an elegant cream-colored wool skirt and jacket when she married Tibbles in 1881.”

Brenda J. Child (Red Lake Ojibwe)
Historian, University of Minnesota

Mebêngôkre krokrokti (feather headdress or cape). Brazil, ca. 1990. Macaw feathers, heron feathers, cotton cordage.

Mebêngôkre men and women wear feather headdresses or capes during children’s naming ceremonies and boy’s initiation ceremonies.

National Museum of the American Indian

November 7th, 2016

 

9 thoughts on “Infinity of Nations

  1. Such a far cry from Disney’s Pocahontas, isn’t it… This museum is one more reason why I need to convince my husband to visit New York ! I know people who went only last year but they only saw the most famous sites (by French tourists’ standards). I am discovering this museum with your photos. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, no Pocahontas here just real life as it has once been. There is a more elaborate version in Washington D.C. in a wonderful, purpose-built building, but I haven’t been there yet – one for the future! That’s the difference of visiting a place for a few days – when time is limited so one has to prioritize – and living there for a bit. But, yes please convince your husband to come to New York soon! Just walking around is an experience in itself.

      Liked by 1 person

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