12 episodes

November is Native American Heritage Month. Meet Native American artists, encounter the triumphs and trials of athlete Jim Thorpe, learn how a museum dedicated to the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere came to be, hear about important legal decisions that still affect American Indians today, learn ancient sky knowledge, and come to understand what Thanksgiving means to the people who provided the original feast for the Pilgrims.

Celebrate Native American Heritage Smithsonian Institution

    • Society & Culture

November is Native American Heritage Month. Meet Native American artists, encounter the triumphs and trials of athlete Jim Thorpe, learn how a museum dedicated to the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere came to be, hear about important legal decisions that still affect American Indians today, learn ancient sky knowledge, and come to understand what Thanksgiving means to the people who provided the original feast for the Pilgrims.

    Do Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?

    Do Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?

    The Thanksgiving holiday takes on a different meaning for contemporary Native Americans. Dennis W. Zotigh (Kiowa/San Juan Pueblo/Santee Dakota) gives personal perspective on the holiday.

    • video
    We Were Always Here

    We Were Always Here

    We Were Always Here, a contemporary art installation carved by artist Rick Bartow (Wiyot), stands at the northwest corner of the National Museum of the American Indian site. Commissioned by the museum in 2011 to honor its eighth anniversary, the work was crafted primarily from a single old-growth western red cedar tree.

    • 5 min
    History Explorer: Picturing Memory

    History Explorer: Picturing Memory

    In this episode of the History Explorer Podcast, Sarah Coffee talks with curator Rayna Green about what we can learn from seemingly simple line drawings about the lives and memories of Plains Indians who lived over 130 years ago.

    • 10 min
    • video
    David Boxley Totem Pole at the National Museum of the American Indian

    David Boxley Totem Pole at the National Museum of the American Indian

    Tsimshian carver David Boxley created a totem pole for the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Boxley, who grew up in Metlakatla, Alaska, and his son finished the work in the museum's Potomac atrium, where the Tsimshian dance group Git–Hoan (People of the Salmon) celebrated the unveiling. “There’s few of us,” Boxley said of the Tsimshian. “But we're alive and well. We wanted to let people know we’re alive and well.” The totem features a chief holding salmon, a group of villagers, and an eagle—the symbol of Boxley’s clan.

    • 5 min
    • video
    (Re)Presenting America: The Evolution of Culturally Specific Museums

    (Re)Presenting America: The Evolution of Culturally Specific Museums

    David Hurst Thomas, a curator at the American Musem of Natural History in New York, discusses his experience as a non-Native and an anthropologist invited to be a founding trustee of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. His talk was part of a symposium examining the development of ethnic or culturally specific museums.

    • 25 min
    • video
    Cosmology of the Milky Way

    Cosmology of the Milky Way

    Douglas Herman, senior geographer at the National Museum of the American Indian, introduces “Stellar Connections: Explorations in Cultural Astronomy,” a symposium on ethno- or archaeoastronomy. In this first segment, Gary Urton, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies at Harvard University, presents a richly detailed talk on the cosmologies of three South American cultural traditions: the Desana and Barasana of Colombia; the Quechua/Inka of the Andes, and Bororo of the Amazon Basin.

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