National Museum of the American Indian Celebrates American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month
To celebrate American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month in November, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian will host a variety of free public programs, including lectures, theatrical performances, art demonstrations, films and more.
“It’s Not TV, It’s Indians!” is a high-energy, interactive event featuring three Native artists, Ben-Alex Dupris (Colville), Skeena Reece (Métis/Tsimshian/Gitksan/Cree) and Terrance Houle (Blackfoot/Saulteaux), performing spoken word, song and dance inspired by their favorite “Indian” episodes from “Seinfeld,” “Moesha” and “Superfriends.” Presented in collaboration with the Smithsonian American Indian Employee Network and Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, the event will be held Sunday, Nov. 2, at 2 p.m. in the Rasmuson Theater. Following the presentation, there will be an informal dialogue with the artists and moderator Shane Belcourt (Métis) and a dessert reception in the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe. This is part of the Film Indians Now! film series.
The largest and most comprehensive retrospective, “Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian” opens Saturday, Nov. 1, and features more than 120 paintings, sculptures and prints from the late Luiseño artist who exploded onto the scene in the 1960s and ’70s and forever changed how Native Americans were depicted. At 1 p.m. in the Rasmuson Theater, curators Truman Lowe (Ho-Chunk) and Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche) discuss Scholder’s work and the museum’s concurrent exhibitions in Washington and New York. Book signing to follow.
Days of the Dead
The National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of American History are co-sponsoring a celebration of the Latin American holiday Los Dias de los Muertos (Days of the Dead), with a two-day family event Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 1-2, 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. There will be a variety of demonstrations, including papel picado (stamped paper), papier-mâché, sugar skulls and performances by the dance group, Los Tecuanes. The museum’s Mitsitam Native Food Cafe will feature special menu items and have food demonstrations in the outdoor fire pit.
Performances: Classical Native
The Classical Native concert series is Saturday, Nov. 8, through Tuesday, Nov. 11. For the third year, the museum welcomes Native classical composers and musicians including classical guitarist Emmanuel Gray (Navajo) and the all-female Ambrosia Quartet, who will perform works from young composers. The Washington premiere of new work, “Echoes,” by Randall Craig Fleischer on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 4 p.m. features a chamber orchestra along with Native singers and dancers. Two recitals for piano and violin on Saturday, Nov. 8, and Tuesday, Nov. 11, at 7:30 p.m. will feature Native performers Tara-Louise Montour (Mohawk), Timothy Long (Muskogee-Creek/Choctaw) and Italian virtuoso, Emanuele Arciuli. Tickets required; visit www.ResidentAssociates.org or call (202) 633-3030. All concerts are held in the Rasmuson Theater.
On Thursday, Nov. 13, at 4 p.m. in the Rasmuson Theater, the museum will present “Harvest of Hope: A Symposium on Reconciliation,” a stimulating and insightful forum moderated by Museum Director Kevin Gover (Pawnee/Comanche). This event focuses on topical issues of reconciliation and highlights national apologies made to Native peoples, including the Native American Apology Resolution recently passed by the U.S. Senate.
Native Round Dance
Join Jonathan Windy Boy (Chippewa Cree) and brother Alvin Windy Boy for a social dance accompanied by singers on hand drums, which encourages visitors of all ages to participate, Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 11:30 a.m. in the Potomac Atrium.
Presenter Trevor Plante will discuss researching Native veterans serving in the military during the 19th century, Saturday, Nov. 8, at 1 p.m. in Room 4018. Plante is an archivist in the Textual Reference Services Division of the National Archives.
The museum presents a one-woman play, “Kick” Saturday, Nov. 15, at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in the Rasmuson Theater. Join actor DeLanna Studi (Cherokee) as she explores racial stereotyping and the American Indian mascot issue through the eyes of a teenager. A pre- and post-show discussion will be presented. Reservations required; call (202) 633-6644.
The Family Day program “Join the Harvest” will take place Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 15-16, at 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Potomac Atrium. Families can try traditional corn grinding, make a cornhusk doll and take a special family activity tour. Learn how to gather seeds, and hear about Native foods like corn, beans and squash and watch Native chefs demonstrate how they are prepared.
On Tuesday, Nov. 11, at 1 p.m., Rasmuson Theater, historian Herman Viola discusses his new book, “Warriors in Uniforms: The Legacy of American Indian Heroism” (National Geographic, 2008). The program includes a panel discussion moderated by Jason Giles (Muskogee-Creek) and features World War II veteran, Joseph Medicine Crow (Crow); Korea and Vietnam veteran, Vernon Tsoodle (Kiowa); and Iraq veterans, Debra Kay Mooney (Choctaw) and Chuck Boers (Cherokee/Apache).
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 28 – 30, at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30, 1:30 (Friday only), 2:30 and 3:30 p.m., there will be Native storytelling in the Rasmuson Theater featuring Sunny Dooley (Navajo) and Dovie Thomason (Lakota/Kiowa Apache).
Film Indians Now! is presented by the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Gallery of Art and is an eight-part series, imparting fresh views regarding the Native American experience. Accompanied with moderated discussion, these films show how media affects and empowers our collective image of what a Native person is. “Tkaronto” directed by Shane Belcourt (Métis) will be screened on Saturday, Nov. 1, at the National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium. The Edward Curtis silent film, “In the Land of the Headhunters” will feature the live music of The Coast Orchestra, an all-Native ensemble, Sunday, Nov. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium. Saturday, Nov. 22, at 2 p.m., the program, “A Future Realized: Films by Today’s Indian” features some of the best of Native filmmakers working today. Moderated discussion by curator Gerald McMaster (Plains Cree and member of the Siksika Nation) with filmmakers Jeff Barnaby (Mi’kmaq), Kevin Lee Burton (Swampy Cree), Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache/Navajo); Ramona Emerson (Navajo); and Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Inupiaq) to follow the five short films. “The Double Entendre of Re-enactment” with McMaster presents a subversive and often humorous examination of the historical re-enactment, Sunday, Nov. 23, at 2 p.m. in the Rasmuson Theater.
Throughout the month of November, there will be showings of “We Shall Remain: ReelNative,” excerpts of short works that encourage Native Americans to give voice to their heritage and contemporary issues through video production, held at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. daily, except Wednesdays, in the Rasmuson Theater.
All programs are subject to change. For a complete schedule of public programs, visit www.AmericanIndian.si.edu.
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