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Native American Museum Washington Dc

National Museum Of The American Indian Virtual Tour

Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian (Native Americans, First Nations)

The National Museum of the American Indian is a museum focused on the culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

The museum has three facilities:

  • The National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
  • The George Gustav Heye Center is located at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York City.
  • The Cultural Resources Center, a research and collections facility, is located in Suitland, Maryland.

The foundations for the collections were first assembled in the former Museum of the American Indian in New York City, which was established in 1916. It became part of the Smithsonian in 1989.

National Mall, Washington, D.C. Branch

The Washington site is the first national museum dedicated exclusively to Native Americans. The curvilinear building is clad in a golden-colored Kasota limestone designed to evoke natural rock formations shaped by wind and water over thousands of years.

Simulated wetlands surround the museum. The museums east-facing entrance, its prism window, and its space for contemporary Native performances are the result of consultations with Native peoples.

Native Americans have designed the operation of the museum aiming to create a unique atmosphere and experience.

A theme of organic flow is reflected in the museum, with walls mostly of curving surfaces, with almost no sharp corners.

Piikuni elk-skin robe with painted decoration by Mountain Chief, the mid-1800s

Heye Center, New York City Branch

Whats Inside The National Museum Of The American Indian

The NMAI provides its first wow! moment before you even walk in the door. The building is one of DCs most visually striking, with its curvilinear structure and limestone material designed to resemble rock formations affected by wind and water over thousands of years.

Visitors at Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall – Free Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC

The museum’s collections represent more than 12,000 years of history across 1,200-plus indigenous cultures from the Americas. These objects range from the aesthetic to the religious to the historical, helping to form a comprehensive catalogue of Native American culture.

Ongoing exhibitions at the museum include Return to a Native Place: Algonquian Peoples of the Chesapeake, which allows you to meet the Native peoples of the Chesapeake Bay through maps, ceremonial objects, photographs and interactive displays. These details can help you have a deeper understanding of just how prevalent Native Americans were, and are, to the areas surrounding DC.

National Museum Of The American Indian Opens In Washington Dc

Debbie Ann Doyle |Nov 1, 2004

On September 21, 2004, the National Museum of the American Indian, the 18th Smithsonian museum, opened to the public. The museum is sustained by both government and private funds. 92,300 people visited the museum in its first week. Native Americans traveled from throughout the Americas for the opening ceremonies, which featured a procession on the National Mall by 25,000 representatives of 500 different tribes and a week-long festival of music, dance, and storytelling.

The museum strives to incorporate a Native viewpoint in everything it does, from the design of the building to the exhibitions and public programs. Its mission is to “recognize and affirm the historical and contemporary culture and cultural achievements of the Natives of the Western Hemisphere by advancingin consultation, collaboration, and cooperation with Nativesknowledge and understanding of Native cultures, including art, history, and language.” The museum features three permanent exhibits: Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World, Our Lives: Contemporary Life and Identities, and Our Peoples: Giving Voice to Our Histories. Rather than attempting to tell the whole story of contact between American Indians and European settlers, the museum focuses on the role of guns, religion, treaties, and schools in conflict and influence across cultural boundaries.

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Shown Here: Passed House Amended

National Museum of the American Indian Act – Establishes within the Smithsonian Institution a memorial to Native Americans to be known as the National Museum of the American Indian, to provide for the study and research of Native Americans and their culture and the collection and exhibition of Native American objects.

Establishes the Board of Trustees of the Museum which shall: recommend annual budgets for the Museum assist the Board of Regents on matters relating to the Museum and report annually to the Regents on the acquisition, disposition, and display of Native American objects and artifacts and on other appropriate matters. Grants the trustees sole authority to: dispose of and acquire Museum property and specify criteria for appropriate use of Museum collections. Grants the Trustees authority to: provide for the restoration, preservation, and maintenance of Museum collections solicit funds for the Museum and approve expenditures from the Museum’s endowment.

Requires the Secretary of the Smithsonian to appoint a Director to manage the Museum and employees to serve under the Director.

Requires Foundation employees serving the day before the transfer to be offered employment by the Smithsonian.

Requires payments by the city and State of New York for the establishment of the Center to be made to the Regents according to a payment schedule to be agreed upon by such parties.

Recognition In The 21st Century

Visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Given the romanticized story of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas in this region, the original people experienced the ravages brought on by the settler-colonial introduction of diseases, encroachment and forced removal, and erasure of traditional and cultural survival of the tribes. Today, the indigenous people that reside in the Washington D.C. area continue to present their case for recognition for descendant communities. These citizens fight for their nations hoping to restore or receive a government-to-government relationship with the U.S. government. In Virginia, 11 have achieved state recognition. The Pamunkey tribe recently acquired its land and is one of the only two Virginian tribes that own land after colonization of present-day Washington, D.C. As of January 2018, the Pamunkey, Rappahannock, and Upper Mattaponi tribes have received federal recognition.

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Native Peoples Of Washington Dc

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the area we think of today as metropolitan Washington, D.C. was rich in natural resources and supported local native people living there. The Anacostia and Potomac Rivers provided a variety of fish, including a dependable supply of migratory fish that converged seasonally at this head of tidewater location.

Additionally, the surrounding wilderness provided plenty of forest produce and wild game such as turkey, quail, geese, ducks, deer, elk, bear, and bison. The native peoples also grew corn, squash, beans, and potatoes in small cleared areas on the fertile floodplains. They quarried stone in nearby stream valleys and used it for tools. Local American Indians also traded with native people from distant regions, exchanging resources and materials from a wide area. There is evidence that the strategic location of the confluence of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, tidewater and piedmont, made the area a major crossroads and trading center for coastal and interior tribes.

Captain John Smith was the first European documented to have reached the navigable head of the Potomac River during his explorations in 1608. Smiths explorations led to several subsequent contacts with American Indians, some friendly, some in outright conflict, and ultimately resulted in European take-over and settlement of the land and the virtual displacement of the local American Indians.

Native American Museums 10 Of The Best In The Us

Posted By PowWows.comJuly 9th, 2019Last Updated on: February 16th, 2022

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Native American museums are one of the best opportunities to experience and appreciate Native American history and culture, both past and present. Whether you live on the west coast, the east coast or somewhere in between, there are plenty of options across the U.S. to dive into.

Sadly, many of these cultural centers and museums are not given their due credit and recognition. However, with this list, we hope to bring some much-deserved awareness to these ten American Indian museums.

These museums feature incredible displays of artifacts and historical objects, but they also showcase the living Native American culture through events, seminars, pow wows and more. So, the next time you want to discover more about the indigenous peoples of North America, take a trip to one of these museums celebrating Native American artists, culture and history!

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Visit The Smithsonian National Museum Of The American Indian

Explore the rich, complex, and dynamic histories and cultures of Indigenous peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The museum’s architecture, native landscape, and exhibitions designed in consultation with American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian tribes and communities together give visitors a richer shared human experience through a more informed understanding of Native peoples.

Situated near the U.S. Capitol, the National Museum of the American Indian is a striking presence on the National Mall. The building’s curvilinear form evokes a wind-swept mesa. Additional features such as the museum’s east-facing entrance, prism window, and 120-foot-high Potomac atrium spaces are further expressions of Native sensibilities.

The new National Native American Veterans Memorial, which sits on the grounds of the museum, was commissioned by Congress to give all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service of Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States. This is the first national landmark in Washington, D.C., to focus on the contributions of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians who have served in the military.

Enjoy the museum’s award-winning exhibitions: Americans, Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations andReturn to a Native Place: Algonquian Peoples of the Chesapeake.


  • Braille or Large Print Menus

Mt Kearsarge Indian Museum Warner Nh

National Museum of the American Indian Washington DC Virtual Tour

With a powerful backstory of multiculturalism and diversity, this museum has a unique heritage of Native American land reclamation. Located in the beautiful woods of New Hampshire, this museum features tours through the Medicine Woods that showcase the natural flora that Native Americans historically used for food, medicine, and more. With interactive and educational exhibits, this museum offers guided tours of its facility that help you get the most out of its many exhibits, outdoor features, and programs. They organize lectures, crafts, workshops, and more. It is also home to the Annual Harvest Moon and NatureFest, a fun day of cultural food, exhibits, and storytelling, appreciating a traditional harvest celebration.

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National Native American Veterans Memorial

The National Native American Veterans Memorial honors American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces during every American conflict since the American Revolution. It was originally authorized by Congress in 1994 with amendments in 2013.

The national memorial was unveiled with a virtual event on Veterans Day 2020, with a dedication ceremony postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. It comprises a vertical steel circle standing on a stone drum, surrounded by benches and engravings of the logos of the military branches. Four stainless steel lances are incorporated around the benches where veterans, family members, tribal leaders, and other visitors can tie cloths for prayers and healing.

The memorial was designed by Cheyenne and Arapaho artist Harvey Pratt and is titled Warriors Circle of Honor. Jurors unanimously selected the design concept from among more than 120 submissions.

Museum Store In Washington Dc

Architecturally warm and inviting, the Roanoke Museum Store presents Native American artistry from the past and present, illustrating how different artists interpret cultural traditions and art forms. The store features jewelry, textiles, and other works by Native artisans souvenirs and childrens books and toys. Selected books, music, and gifts are also available via our online bookstore and the Smithsonian Store. The name Roanoke reflects the importance of waterways to Native commerce, a reference to the shells once used as currency by local Native peoples.

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What Is The Smithsonian National Museum Of The American Indian And Where Is It

The National Museum of the American Indian is located on Independence Avenue SW on the National Mall. The museum boasts one of the worlds most expansive collections of Native American objects, photographs, artifacts and media. The NMAI is dedicated to bringing Native voices to life throughout its contemplative exhibitions and colorful activities.

The easiest way to get there is via public transportation. If traveling by Metrorail, get off at the LEnfant Plaza stop on the Blue, Orange, Silver, Green and Yellow lines and use the Maryland Avenue/Smithsonian Museums exit. If traveling by bus, take the DC Circulators National Mall route or the 30, 32, 34 or 36 Metrobus lines.

Native Landscape At The National Museum Of The American Indian


Recalling the natural landscape prior to European contact.

The grounds surrounding the National Museum of the American Indian are considered an extension of the building and a vital part of the museum as a whole. By recalling the natural landscape environment that existed prior to European contact, the museums landscape design embodies a theme that runs central to the museum, that of returning to a Native place.

More than 33,000 plants of approximately 150 species can be found throughout the landscape. Not only are they native to the Piedmont, they are also ethnobotanical, and can be used for food, fiber, dye, medicine, ceremonies, building materials. The grounds encompass four habitats: upland hardwood forest, wetland, cropland, and meadow. Native wildflowers grow under oaks, pines, and magnolias, while paw-paws and birch trees surround the water-lilies and cattails of the wetlands. Native American crop rotation and traditional methods such as the Three Sisters Garden of corn, beans and squash are combined with organic practices using natural predators like ladybugs to maintain a sustainable garden on the south side of the museum. Grasses, coneflowers and goldenrod fill the meadow.

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National Museum Of The American Indian Washington Dc

No Native American museums near me list would be complete without a mention of the most famous museum of all: the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. It has the honor of being the first national museum of Native American heritage and culture and its over 800,000 items represent more than 1,200 indigenous cultures, from items and educational materials on religion, traditions, and contemporary identity to ancient artifacts and modern fine art. There is also a sister museum located in New York, NY. They host several annual celebrations and festivals that highlight the rich traditions and heritage of indigenous peoples, including a six-day celebration called the Kaypi Perú Festival, a summer Native Art Market, and an annual Hawaiian cultural celebration.

There are over a hundred American Indian museums throughout the countrytoo many to list them all here! We strongly encourage you to visit the ones on this list or to do your own research and find American Indian museums near you. Exploring these important places allows you to appreciate some of the nations hidden gems of cultural and historical significance.

Six Nations Indian Museum Onchiota Ny

This family-owned museum features artifacts, arts, and educational exhibits from the perspective of North American indigenous peoples. With a focus on Haudenosaunee culture, this unique museum represents the tribes of the Six Iroquois Nations Confederacy: Mohawks, Senecas, Onondagas, Oneidas, Cayugas, and Tuscaroras. Not only are the exhibits beautiful representations of Native American culture, but even the museum building itself is decorated with Haudenosaunee symbols and motifs.

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Onhsagw: De Cultural Center Salamanca Ny

This Native American cultural center features interactive exhibits, programs, and collections that allow patrons to explore the daily life and struggles of Native American peoples from thousands of years ago to today, through changing exhibits and permanent art collections, featuring artwork in traditional mediums, such as beadwork, antler carvings, and cornhusk pieces. They also host an annual traditional dance competition as part of their Winter Social Pow Wow.

Spring 202: Dolores Purdy

Welcome back to the National Museum of the American Indian!

Dolores is a member of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma and Winnebago descent living north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Warrior Art is a common description of the ledger art style, and was considered a male art form in the past. For over 2 decades, she has followed the gender specific traditional art form by using the same medium of antique paper and colored pencils, only creating a contemporary version from a female perspective. Her work veers far from the usual imagery typically seen in most contemporary ledger art. The images can be humorous or serious while immersed in Native American heritage, iconography and pop culture.

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National Museum Of The American Indian In Washington Dc To Reopen May 21

Last chance to see the popular exhibition The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire, before it closes later this summer

The National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. is scheduled to reopen Friday, May 21, 2021. The new hours are Wednesday to Sunday 11 a.m.4 p.m. New health and safety measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be observed including timed-entry passes, limiting attendance, social distancing, mandatory use of face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. For more information find details on the NMAI website.

The decision to reopen these facilities was made carefully and with the utmost consideration for the health and safety of our staff and visitors. We have been closely monitoring the landscape in our region and receiving guidance from government agencies and public health experts, said Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch. We have come a long way since closing to the public early last year. Moving forward, we will continue to apply lessons learned, listen to the concerns of frontline staff and visitors, and make adjustments along the way. When our museums temporarily reopened last summer, the safety measures we put in place were effective, and we did not experience any cases of COVID-19 transmission between our employees and visitors.

Seven museums and the National Zoo are scheduled to reopen in May. All other Smithsonian museums remain temporarily closed.

Reopening Schedule

Safety Measures

Timed-Entry Passes

Reopening the Smithsonian

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