National Museum of the American Indian Announces Spring Programs

February 25, 2010
News Release

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian presents a dynamic lineup of free public programs to commemorate the spring season, including a Jazz Appreciation Month series, discussions, theater productions and lively family festivals.


Capilla del Sol, an Argentine baroque ensemble, performs sacred and secular music from the colonial era composed for Jesuit missions in Latin America, Sunday, March 7, at 2 p.m., in the Rasmuson Theater. This concert is the first program in the series “Argentina at the Smithsonian 2010.”


The museum will feature a three-part series celebrating the diversity and innovation of jazz. Participants will learn the history of jazz and its relationship to American Indians, hear music by Native musicians and learn to scat like a real jazz vocalist. On Friday, April 2, at noon, the museum will join the National Museum of American History to hold a panel discussion on the legacy of trumpeter and composer Dizzy Gillespie and the two innovative jazz genres he pioneered: bebop and Afro-Cuban jazz. The discussion, held in the National Museum of American History’s Carmichael Auditorium, includes the following panelists: Charlie Fishman, president of the DC Jazz Festival and Gillespie’s former manager; saxophonist Sharel Cassity (Cherokee); and trumpeter Tony Lujan.


In an unprecedented tribute to Gillespie and Oscar Pettiford, saxophonist Sharel Cassity and The Tony Lujan Septet will perform in the Rasmuson Theater at the National Museum of the American Indian Saturday, April 3, at 2 and 4 p.m. Participants can learn to scat like the great jazz vocalists in the Ella Fitzgerald Jazz Vocal Workshop conducted by Connaitre Miller, associate professor of music at Howard University and director of the vocal jazz ensemble Afro Blue. The open workshop will be held Friday, April 23, at 2 p.m., in Room 4018 on the 4th level of the museum and is presented in collaboration with Big Band Jam, an annual festival presented by the Blues Alley Jazz Society.


The history and discussion of the roots of musical genres like jazz will continue in a new exhibition, opening July 1, that features Native musicians and performers who have had mainstream careers and made significant contributions to the musical world.


During April, the museum will feature two exceptional individuals as part of the Native Achievers Series that recognizes outstanding achievement by Native men and women in their respective fields. Author, professor and historian, Donald L. Fixico (Shawnee/Sac and Fox/Muscogee Creek/Seminole), will discuss his work and his new book, Inside the Lodge: American Indian Oral Tradition, Myth, and Oral History (State University of New York Press, 2010) Saturday, April 10, at 2 p.m., in the Rasmuson Theater. Book signing will follow.


Playwright William S. Yellow Robe Jr. (Assiniboine), will be highlighted in a Native Achievers discussion Thursday, April 22, at noon, in the Rasmuson Theater in conjunction with his play Grandchildren of the Buffalo Soldiers that will grace the museum’s stage later in the month. In addition, Yellow Robe is an  award-winning actor, director, poet and instructor who has written more than 50 plays and is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maine.


Yellow Robe’s Grandchildren of the Buffalo Soldiers will be presented in the Rasmuson Theater from Friday, April 23, through Sunday, April 25, and Thursday, April 29, through Sunday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. The community-based theater production is part of an ongoing series of programs in support of the museum’s exhibition, “IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas” and examines issues of racial identity and prejudice experienced by a descendant of a “buffalo soldier,” the famous post-Civil War cavalry regiment. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis and the production is recommended for middle-school ages and older.


In observance of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the annual Celebrate Hawai’i Festival held Saturday, May 29, through Monday, May 31, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. honors the arts and culture of Hawai’i. The richness of Hawaiian culture will be celebrated through hands-on demonstrations, music and storytelling, a showcase of films from the Pacific, lectures and much more. Programs are co-sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.


On Friday, June 4, through Sunday, June 6, the Ibero-American Guitar Festival of Washington, D.C., brings together the best guitar performers from the Americas, Spain and Portugal. Honored this year is Mexican composer Manuel M. Ponce (1882-1948) in conjunction with celebrations of Mexico’s bicentennial. The festival is presented by the Association of Ibero-American Cultural Attachés in Washington, D.C., with support from the Smithsonian Latino Center. For a complete schedule and ticket information, visit or call (202) 633-1000.


All programs are subject to change. For a complete schedule of public programs, visit



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Eileen Maxwell

(202) 633-6615