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

September 26, 2008 – February 7, 2010

National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
One Bowling Green
New York, NY

Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House

A partial installation of this exhibition will remain on view through February 7, 2010.

Dresses are more than simple articles of clothing for Native women -- they are aesthetic expressions of culture and identity. Embodying messages about the life of the wearer, dresses offer Native women the opportunity to blend artistic tradition and bold innovation while preparing themselves, their families, and their communities to partake in the "dance of life." Bringing together 55 dresses and more than 200 items from the Plains, Plateau, and Great Basin regions of the United States and Canada, this exhibition highlights Native women's identity through traditional dress and its contemporary evolution. It also examines the individual, communal, and cultural identity of Native women, and explores how their highly developed artistic skills benefitted not only their families but also the entire community.

Videos (run continuously)

Family Activity Room (for ages 5-11)