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Encyclopedia Smithsonian

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TOPICS: American Indian History and Culture

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Activities & Games

Buffalo Hide Painting Buffalo Hide Painting

Discover buffalo hide art and create your own painting!

Fact Sheet

Genealogical Research for Native Americans
Thanksgiving in North America: From Local Harvests to National Holiday Thanksgiving in North America: From Local Harvests to National Holiday

Online Exhibition

A Song for the Horse Nation A Song for the Horse Nation

The story of the horse's influence on American Indian tribes from the 1600s to the present is depicted.

Agayuliyararput (Our Way of Making Prayer): The Living Tradition of Yup'ik Masks Agayuliyararput (Our Way of Making Prayer): The Living Tradition of Yup'ik Masks

View 150 Yup'ik Eskimo objects from the Yukon, Kuskokwim, and coastal southwestern Alaska. These late 19th- and early 20th-century masks, decorated with feather tufts and wooden appendages, tell stories of ceremonial traditions that remain an important part of Yup'ik culture.

American Origins, 1600-1900 American Origins, 1600-1900

This exhibition starts from the days of contact between Native Americans and European explorers through the struggles of independence to the Gilded Age.

Beauty Surrounds Us Beauty Surrounds Us

The exhibition features 77 extraordinary objects showcasing the integration of art and daily life in Native cultures throughout the hemisphere.

Benedicte Wrensted: An Idaho Photographer in Focus Benedicte Wrensted: An Idaho Photographer in Focus

View photos of European and Native Americans taken by Danish immigrant Benedicte Wrensted in her Pocatello, Idaho studio in the late 19th century.

Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort

Examine iconic works and major pieces never before seen in the United States by Brian Jungen (Dunne-za First Nations/Swiss/Canadian), widely regarded as the foremost Native artist of his generation.

Circle of Dance Circle of Dance

Learn how music and dance continue to bind American Indian communities to all living things, to the earth, to the spirit world, and—when people have deep ancestral claims to their dances—to the past.

Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska

Jointly prepared by the Smithsonian and the Soviet Academy of Sciences, the exhibition presents the cultures of Alaska and Siberia from the end of the Ice Age Era to modern times.

Faces of the Frontier: Photographic Portraits from the American West, 1845-1925 Faces of the Frontier: Photographic Portraits from the American West, 1845-1925

Through more than 100 portrait photographs, this exhibition tells the story of the changes that occurred in the American West during the 80 years between the Mexican War and passage of the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924.

First American Art: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection First American Art: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection

View 200 items illustrating the similar aesthetic characteristics found in Native American objects from different North American cultures.

Four Indian Kings Four Indian Kings

The year 2008 marked the 225th anniversary of the Treaty of Paris which ended the American Revolution. To commemorate this event, the National Portrait Gallery exhibited the earliest surviving full-length oil portraits of North American aboriginal people painted from life.

Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian

See paintings, bronze sculptures, and lithographs that highlight the more-than-40-year career of contemporary Native artist Fritz Scholder (Luiseno, 1937-2005).

Frontier Photographer: Edward S. Curtis Frontier Photographer: Edward S. Curtis

This exhibition features images from Curtis's comprehensive 20-volume study The North American Indian (1907-1930) and examines the personal and professional struggles he faced in producing his landmark work.

Hide: Skin as Material and Metaphor: Part I Hide: Skin as Material and Metaphor: Part I

The featured artists draw upon this rich subject in multifaceted ways, using both the material and concept of skin as a metaphor for widespread issues.

Hide: Skin as Material and Metaphor: Part II Hide: Skin as Material and Metaphor: Part II

The featured artists draw upon this rich subject in multifaceted ways, using both the material and concept of skin as a metaphor for widespread issues.

Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women's Dresses Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women's Dresses

See 55 dresses and more than 200 related items from the Plains, Plateau, and Great Basin regions in this exhibition of Native women's identity through traditional dress and its contemporary evolution.

Indelible: The Platinum Photographs of Larry McNeil and Will Wilson Indelible: The Platinum Photographs of Larry McNeil and Will Wilson

Photographers Larry McNeil (Tlingit/Nisgaá) and Will Wilson (Diné/Bilagaana) challenge the romanticizing softness of 19th-century images of the “Vanishing Race.”