it's opening, the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)
has dedicated itself to the promotion of native identity and cultural
understanding. Now celebrating the 10th anniversary of the D.C.
museum, it is launching an ambitious exhibit this September that
seeks to highlight the role of treaties between the United States
and Native Nations.
Upon opening September 21, 2014, the exhibit "Nation to Nation:
Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations,"
will explore the Native diplomats and leaders who crafted some of
the earliest agreements with the Founding Fathers.
Amongst the many artifacts expected to be on display, the exhibit
will feature 8 prominent National Archive treaties from the approximately
374 ratified between the United States and Native Nations. These
treaties will trace a timeline of diplomacy from first meetings
to present, touching at the core of how U.S. and Native relations
have impacted culture and development.
On September 8th, the NMAI welcomed the arrival of the Treaty
of Canandaigua from the National Archives and Records Administration.
Enacted between the Haudenosaunee (also known as the Six Nations
or the Iroquois Confederacy) and the U.S., this treaty was signed
by George Washington in 1794 to establish peace, friendship, and
affirm land rights to the Haudenosaunee in modern day New York State.
The arrival of the historical document was met by Chief Oren
Lyons, Ph. D., the Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Seneca
Nations of the Haudenosaunee along with NMAI Museum Director Kevin
The exhibit, curated by Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee
Muscogee), will be told from the perspective of the Native Nations
and will be accompanied by U.S. testimonials. Visitors will be able
to explore the exhibit through its five sections: Introduction to
Treaties, Serious Diplomacy, Bad Acts, Bad Paper, Great Nations
Keep Their Word, and Reflections.
In accompaniment to the historical treaties on display, "Nation
to Nation" will feature more than 125 objects from the museum's
collection and private lenders. Some of the items on display include
the Navajo blanket owned by General Sherman, peace medals awarded
to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and the sword and scabbard
of Andrew Jackson.
In addition, the museum will display cultural artifacts, archival
photographs, wampum belts, textiles, baskets and peace medals.
Few need be reminded of the significance treaties play in the
relationship between the U.S. Government and the Nation's indigenous.
Some early treaties, enacted in the U.S.'s infancy, are still enacted
in law. The Treaty of Canandaigua, one of the Nation's oldest, still
delivers an annual payment to the Haudenosaunee from the Bureau
of Indian Affairs to this day.
"Nation to Nation" will explore the complex relationship between
the U.S. and Native Nations through a historical timeline of diplomacy
and the written word. Treaties such as Canandaigua will be displayed
to a wider audience than such documents have yet seen, in the hopes
of breaking new ground in cultural understanding.
The exhibit opens September 21st at The National Museum of the
American Indian in Washington D.C., and will be on display through