The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with free public programs in Washington, D.C., and New York City to recognize the richness of the traditions and culture of the Indigenous communities from North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Activities in both locations will feature local artists, musicians and dancers.
In addition to the special events, visitors will also be available to see more than 400 objects from Hispanic Indigenous communities and bilingual exhibitions such as “The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire” in Washington and “Taíno: Native Heritage and Identity in the Caribbean” in New York. Both locations also offer a bilingual imagiNATIONS Activity Center, a family-friendly, interactive space where visitors of all ages can explore Native scientific discoveries and inventions.
Programs in Washington, D.C.
National Museum of the American Indian
Located on the National Mall between the National Air and Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol.
Fourth Street and Independence Avenue S.W.
Realm of the Jaguar
Saturday, Sept. 22; 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 23; 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
The Realm of the Jaguar is a series of dance performances honoring the feline whose imagery is often found in the artistic traditions of Mesoamerican culture. They can enjoy the jaguar dances of Bolivia (Tradiciones Bolivianas [Amara]) Mexico (Los Tecuanes [Mixtec]) and Guatemala (Grupo Awal) and explore the mask making of Alexis Vasquez (Mixteca) and the artistry of Carlos Chaclán Solís (Q’eqchi’ Maya), who shares the story of the jaguar through traditional and contemporary ceramics.
Workshop: Exploring the Inka Road—an Engineering Marvel
Thursday, Sept. 27; 4:15–7:15 p.m.
The museum is hosting Exploring the Inka Road—an Engineering Marvel. Fourth- through eighth-grade teachers are invited to join the San Francisco Exploratorium’s Isabel Hawkins and archaeologist Vicentina Galiano Blanco to explore the museum’s “The Great Inka Road” exhibition in this free workshop. Classroom materials and a light snack will be provided. Email email@example.com for pre-registration and additional information.
Programs in New York
National Museum of the American Indian, the George Gustav Heye Center
One Bowling Green
A-Maizing Fun Days
Saturday, Sept. 15; 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 16; 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Two superfoods—maize (corn) and cacao (chocolate)—have roots deep in the culture of Mesoamerica. Visitors can learn how to incorporate maize and cacao into Otomi paper figures that they can take home and use in their own harvest celebrations. They can also create their own Mayan codex with Evelyn Orantes (Quiche Maya) and participate in creating a mural design painting with Joaquin Newman (Yaqui/Mexica), explore the depictions of maize and cacao in Mesoamerican art with Carlos Chaclán Solís (Q’eqchi’ Maya) and learn how to make a Huichol yarn painting that also features these two foods. There will be music performances by Marimba Lira Huehueteca. Federal support for this program is provided by the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
Third Thursday Concert With Marimba Lira Huehueteca
Thursday, Sept. 20; 6 p.m.
Visitors can enjoy an evening of marimba music with Marimba Lira Huehueteca and learn about the impressive marimba instrument and its tradition in Guatemalan music. This program is presented with the support of the National Council of the National Museum of the American Indian.
Taíno Culture and Identity Gallery Demonstrations
Mondays, Sept. 17, Sept. 24, and Oct. 1, 8, and 15; 2–4 p.m.
The Taíno are one of the Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. Visitors will learn more about Taíno history, culture and worldviews from museum specialist Jorge Estévez (Taíno). Through cultural materials and live demonstrations, Estévez facilitates discussion of the persistence and depth of Taíno lifeways and living traditions. This program takes place in the introductory gallery of the exhibition “Taíno: Native Heritage and Identity in the Caribbean.”
In addition to the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, the National Museum of American Indian will host a three-day public program dedicated to El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It begins Friday, Oct. 26, with an after-hours event dedicated to the Mexican tradition from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. This evening event will feature food and drinks, dancing and crafts, and performances by a mariachi group.
During the weekend, Saturday, Oct. 27, and Sunday, Oct. 28, the museum will celebrate monarch butterflies through the creation of an interactive mural with Joaquin Newman (Yaqui/Mexica), butterfly luminaria and butterfly masks. Butterflies will also appear in a contemporary altar (ofrenda) created for El Día de los Muertos celebrating the marigold paddler, an ancient Maya story interpreted by Evelyn Orantes (Quiche Maya), and traditional ofrendas by Oaxacan-born Lucina Flores (Mexica) and Puebla-born Luz Maria Reyes (Mixtec). The museum will present cultural performances by Grupo los Tecuanes (Mixtec) and an afternoon concert with Pasatono, Mexico’s premier Indigenous music ensemble, Sunday, Oct. 28.
About the Museum
The National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present and future—through partnership with Native people and others. National Mall at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue S.W.; open every day from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25); Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and AmericanIndian.si.edu.
The museum invites the public to let it know where they see American Indian imagery and words and join the conversation on social media using #NDNsEverywhere.
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