What does it mean to be American? I think this is a interesting and complex question that was in the forefront of my mind on our expeditions today. It became a even more difficult question to answer while walking the halls of the National Museum of American Indians. Before coming to the American Indian Museum I had never realized the extent on to which the Indians are incorporated into our very essence as a country. It wasn’t until the presentation by Dan and Ed where they showed us a glimpse into the upcoming exhibit, “Americans” that I started to realize how much POP culture and symbolism where based around the Native Americans.
In addition to showing the effects Native Americans had on the development of what we see as America today, I believe the American Indian Museum did a fantastic job in their own storytelling! They had interactives, programs and stalls around the museum where people could learn about more specific objects like drums and rattles the Indians used for music. It clearly was able to show another side of the Indian story that was never seen before. It is a more personal and upfront view of the culture.
A specific item that caught my attention was “The Long Dog Winter Count”. It was a fantastic piece that taught visitors how important it was to the Native Americans to record the significant changes in their lives. This form of storytelling is done by pictographs or drawings of the events, such as battles, deaths of leaders, etc. If given the chance a person could spend all day looking and deciphering the events that happened to the Laoka Tribe over the span of many years. The specific winter count that I saw covered about 71 years starting around 1800s. As the identifier stated it was a way, “to share the community’s history and wisdom with the younger generation.”