Native American History and Modern Art

What do Native American History and Modern Art have in common?  Not much really except those happen to be the two museums we saw today.  The Smithsonian Native American Museum and the Hirshhorn were both new for me.

The exterior of the Native American Museum.

The exterior of the Native American Museum.

We went to the Native American Museum first.  The exterior of the building is very nice.  I especially like that on the exterior (going nearly all the way around) they have planted Native American crops and created various habitats that reflect how the land looked before Europeans showed up.

Native American Crops planted around the grounds

Native American Crops planted around the grounds

This is a recreation of a wetlands area.

This is a recreation of a wetlands area.

 

Inside the exhibits were pretty good.  I was slightly disappointed that they didn’t have more on the plains tribes (especially in Texas).  There was a really nice display however on the treaties that were signed with various groups along the way.  It illustrated to me just how poorly these people were treated.  They were completely misunderstood by the Europeans and were therefore taken advantage of in a grievous way.  It breaks my heart to think of all the suffering, starvation and deprivation that these people had to endure at the hands of “progress”.  More than any other ethnic group, these people have something to complain about and yet they don’t.  You don’t hear of Native American’s complaining loudly to the media of their mistreatment through the years.  They simply endure.  They stay strong and steady, trying to hang on to as much tradition as they can in an ever changing world.

I had the honor of knowing a Navajo gentleman personally.  When I was very little, my dad worked for a time on the Navajo reservation and met John Benali.  He was one of the original code talkers and one of the most interesting and humble men you can imagine.  He worked closely with my father for all of those years and they became very good friends.  In that time stories would slowly seep out about the past.  The People have a beautiful oral history that I wish more people could know and appreciate.

A painting by the Cheyenne of the battle of Little Bighorn in 1876

A painting by the Cheyenne of the battle of Little Bighorn in 1876

 

After the “Treaties” exhibit, we saw the South American/Inca tribes exhibit.  That was really cool.  I think I liked it best but only because my oldest son actually works with artifacts like that as part of his maritime archaeology internship each summer.  They find a lot of these Incan items in the Spanish shipwrecks that they work on.

Incan Empire Artifacts

Incan Empire Artifacts

More Incan art

More Incan art

 

When we finished up at the Native American Museum we decided we had time for one more stop.  After consulting the tour map we decided on the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  It was amazing!!! I loved it (the husband not so much but he was trooper).

"Marilyn Monroe's Lips" by Andy Warhol 1962

“Marilyn Monroe’s Lips” by Andy Warhol 1962

"13/11" by Sol LeWitt 1985

“13/11” by Sol LeWitt 1985

 

Well, that’s Monday in a nutshell.  We are off now to take a private tour diving into the Lincoln assignation.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

 

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