Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Museum of the American Indian

While most New Yorkers headed to the annual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village, trick-or-treated in the streets, or simply slept in from the night prior, I, along with Lynne Rowan (an American Studies minor and a good friend), traveled downtown to the Museum of the American Indian. Located in the Alexander Hamilton Custom House, the museum contains artifacts and art from some of America’s indigenous groups.

Currently, the Museum of the American Indian features artwork from Annie Pootoogook, an Inuit, and Andrea Carlson, an Anishinaabe, and an excellent exhibit on the role of women’s dress in native cultures. This particular exhibit really held my attention, for a variety of reasons. After taking Native American Philosophy with Professor Green, I began to develop a great interest in Native American life. Because clothing is such an integral aspect of indigenous cultures, this exhibit displayed so much more than just dresses and beadwork. Clothing and accessories serve as both a means of identification for Native American tribes and a way of preserving cultural traditions. It was particularly fascinating to see items that were worn during the Ghost Dance in 1890, which was an extremely rare opportunity. My other primary interest lay in the actual pieces themselves. As a fairly dedicated follower of fashion, I noticed that certain items, such as the tall beaded moccasin boots, looked surprisingly similar to trends popular in the modern day.

Lynne and I were also able to participate in the museum’s Day of the Dead celebrations. We watched dances and made various arts and crafts. It was definitely a less conventional way to spend a Halloween, but we had a really fun time. I would encourage others interested in Native American culture to visit the museum as well.

No comments: