We should have mentioned the National Museum of the American
Indian, which opened Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Here are some images from the opening
ceremony. The First
Americans Festival continues through Sunday.
A friend writes:
On Monday, I just happened to be enroute home from a weekend trip and
changed planes in Memphis, where more than a few participants boarded my flight to D.C. I was
really struck by how much this museum means to them. This may sound corny, but I was moved
to tears by their enthusiasm and pride. The museum was 15 years in the making and it will be the
Smithsonian’s last museum. The last museum for the first Americans.
About 20,000 Native Americans
marched in the Procession of Nations on opening day. It is said to be the
largest gathering of the tribes in history. Most were dressed in full tribal regalia as they walked
together to the dedication of the museum. The word “awesome” — these days completely
overused — really applies here. It will take more than a museum to heal their wounds, but what a
Roughly half of the $219-million museum ($119 million) was funded by the federal
government. Private contributions made up the rest of the funding. “Three tribes with thriving
casino operations together raised $30 million,” the Christian Science Monitor reported. Some 8,000 artifacts from 24 tribes, representing
10,000 years from the pre-Columbian era through the beginning of the 20th century, will be on
permanent exhibit. Overall holdings include 800,000 objects and 125,000 photographs.
The American Indian Movement, an activist group, issued a statement
claiming the museum failed to display the tragic history of the U.S. government’s “holocaust”
against the nations and peoples of the Americas.