June 08, 2011

How “Three Sisters” and Michelle Obama are Helping Indian Country

Let's Move! Trip to the W hite House Museum director Kevin Gover (back row, fourth from the right), First Lady Michelle Obama and a group of local Native American children at the White House's "Let's Move" harvest, June 3, 2011. (Photo by Nedra Darling - DOI)

By Kevin Gover (Pawnee), Director of the National Museum of the American Indian

Bad health remains a major concern for Indian communities throughout the United States. Historically poor access to health care, the absence of recreational opportunities, and bad diets lead to a crisis of obesity and associated health concerns such as diabetes in many parts of Indian country. Indian children are not immune from this epidemic. To the contrary, the onset of adult diabetes in children has become alarmingly common.

Good food is the key component to good health. Traditional Native diets were replete with both wild and cultivated fruits and vegetables and lean meats. During the early decades of the reservation period, those diets were supplanted by government rations consisting of white flour, sugar, cheese, and lard. Survival required the consumption of these commodities in unhealthy amounts, and they became the staples of Native diets on reservations.  While these foods kept the people alive, they also made them chronically ill. One food exemplifies the problem. Frybread is widely thought of as a traditional Native food. It’s easy to make. Flour and salt are mixed with water and then fried in lard. But while frybread is a tasty treat, as a dietary staple it is a health nightmare.

Childhood obesity is not just a problem in Indian Country. Throughout the United States, our young people too often eat poorly and exercise little. Fast food, junk food, and lack of exercise are producing historic rates of childhood obesity in the United States. To combat this problem, First Lady Michele Obama is heading a program called “Let’s Move!” The program encourages parents and children to eat healthy foods and exercise.

Mrs. Obama has established an element of the program directed to Native children specifically. Let’s Move! In Indian Country has four main goals: to create a healthy start on life, develop healthy learning, increase physical activity, and improve access to affordable, healthy and traditional foods.

Last week Mrs. Obama hosted an event at the White House to kick off the Indian Country program. About two dozen Native kids from the D.C. area came to the White House to help Mrs. Obama harvest the early crops from the White House garden and to plant the garden’s summer crops. The White House has been consulting with the NMAI about traditional Native foods, and I was invited to participate in the harvest and planting.

DSC_0141 From left to right: Basketball star Tahnee Robinson (Shoshone/Pawnee/Lakota), Jefferson Keel, President of the  National Congress of American Indians, Kevin Gover, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian, and Sam Bradford (Cherokee), quarterback of the St. Louis Rams. (Photo by Nedra Darling - DOI)   

A number of prominent Native people from the D.C. area were also asked to help with the planting and harvesting, including Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Echohawk, Indian Health Service Director Yvette Roubideaux, and National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel. We were joined by two prominent Native athletes, Sam Bradford (Cherokee) and Tahnee Robinson (Shoshone/Pawnee/Lakota), who are working with the White House and with Nike to promote healthy lifestyles for Native kids. Sam Bradford is the quarterback of the St. Louis Rams and last year’s Rookie of the Year in the National Football League.  Tahnee Robinson is the star of last year’s University of Nevada women’s basketball team and has now entered the Women’s National Basketball Association as a member of the Connecticut Sun.  (Tahnee also happens to be the daughter of my first cousin Sara Rose Robinson.)

Sam, Tahnee, and Mrs. Obama were the stars of the show, along with the kids.  Not surprisingly, we adults were star-struck, but the kids took it all in stride.

Three Sisters_Sunflowers The "Three Sisters" garden at the National Museum of the American Indian. (Photo by Katherine Fogden)

Perhaps the best known products of Native agriculture in North America are corn, beans, and squash, "the Three Sisters.” These plants work together in the garden and in our diets. Beans produce nitrogen in the soil to feed the corn and squash. Corn provides a sturdy stalk for the beans to climb. Squash plants provide ground cover to keep down weeds and keep the ground moist. The three in combination make for a very healthy start toward a balanced diet.

So the kids and the First Lady planted the Three Sisters in the garden on the South Lawn of White House. Mrs. Obama then called on the kids to harvest the lettuce, kale, turnips, and other spring crops in the garden. They took to the job with great enthusiasm and surprising efficiency. Within a few minutes, neat piles of greens were stacked on ice, ready for the White House kitchen. The foods harvested by the kids were served at a White House dinner for visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The excess will be donated to local programs for the homeless.

The President and the First Lady  President Obama and the First Lady pose for photos at the spring harvest of the White  House Community Garden. (Photo by Thom Wallace, NCAI)

All of this was exciting enough, but we were greeted with one more special surprise. It just so happened that President Obama was returning from a trip that afternoon. So the little kids and we big kids were invited to greet the President as he arrived on Marine One, the Presidential helicopter. The President shook hands with all of us and, along with the First Lady, posed for photos.

We all left the White House very happy, and in my case at least, a little sunburned.

To learn more about Let’s Move in Indian Country and what you can do to promote healthy lifestyles for your family and community, visit http://www.letsmove.gov/indiancountry.  

To see video of the First Lady’s “Three Sisters” event and Sam Bradford’s public service announcement, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i83HjUNpjVc&feature=youtu.be and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvw4FGqMe0o .



Jefferson Keel, President, National Congress of American Indians; USDA Food And Nutrition Service Director, Kevin Concannon and Kevin Gover.

Comments (15)

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Great article! I didn't know bad health was an common issue among Indian communities. It's good to see people get involved like this.

-Dan Allard

Great info. Thank you for posting this article. It is also good news that the first lady have a hand to harvest the crops. They surely had great and fun time.

A very interesting and informative read. :)

Developed countries are always facing a huge struggle with obesity and it's a whole different type of nutrition problem.

More like over nutrition.

"the absence of recreational opportunities, and bad diets lead to a crisis of obesity and associated health concerns such as diabetes in many parts of Indian country" It begins with education, and learning how to prevent diabetes. Ethnicity also plays a role in diabetes, as do environmental factors.

Thanks for sharing this information. This is a good reference in How “Three Sisters” and Michelle Obama are Helping Indian Country, but would you please describe, how do you do your study regarding this article?

Beautiful!! So glad to see the pride staying in the Indian heritage!

The From one "Indian" in Canada -
I pray this initiative reaches out - gets to - is made easier and more palatable to those "too many" of our Indigenous Tribal people of North America - US and Canada, who are blocked through deep historical mistrust, disturbed and distorted unwillingness to "take part" in these MOVEMENTS. I am happy to see the Obamas take this particular quest.
Yet, without addressing HOW OUR internal intimate-personal-race-traditions-and-cultural value and belief system is so-deeply set in the disturbance of co-dependency on US not being able to face the exact nature of our disturbed condition as tribes, race or a peoples. I say this because it appears as these initiatives are getting the same "Indians" to come to a slight advantage of these "programs". I dedicated my service work to addressing the core reasons why TOO MANY INDIANS do not use these costly initiatives. There must be a direct recognition of what, how and why these MOVES are worthy... AND don't be afraid to challenge and confront our now-self-accepted self-imposed apathy and victimhood.
Just me asking for strongheart service for us to take part in... Let's Move.
Pilamaya, Meegwetch, Tansi, Merci
Remember the Physical, Mental, e-Motional and Relational. (All of these are spiritual and sacred) Keep going - keep up the true good healthy fight! Blessings shared.

Good information. Thanks to the First Lady of America.

I am so glad to read the post. It is good to see the people are involving like this. A very information post . Thanx for it

Fantastic museum, my son just visited on his school trip with his basketball team.

Oh, wonderful picture with our President.
It is always a joy to see the President and the first lady enjoying with kids



wow! is awesome read this!
Thanks for the article.

Excellent initiative, beyond cultural and national barriers.

Thank you for this article. Its great that Michelle is doing so much for health and nutrition.

I am so glad to read the post. It is good to see the people are involved like this. A very information post .

November 26, 2010

StoryCorps Interview with NMAI's Kevin Gover (Pawnee)

This week the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has shared the stories of five Native staffers as part of American Indian Heritage Day and the StoryCorps’ 2010 National Day of Listening. Today—Friday, Nov. 26—we celebrate both of these holidays and encourage you and your loved ones to join us by, quite simply, sharing stories with one another.

Gover-post2 Our final interview features the museum’s director, Kevin Gover (Pawnee). Before joining NMAI in 2007, Gover was a professor of law at Arizona State University. From 1997 to 2000, he served as assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior, overseeing programs in Indian education, law enforcement, social services and treaty rights.

He grew up near Lawton, Okla., where his parents worked as civil-rights activists in the 1960s and '70s.

“This museum is really attempting to redefine a number of things. In particular and most importantly, it’s trying to redefine how Indians are represented in the museum world, and establishing a requirement that in order to represent these communities properly the community has to be deeply involved in the development of any sort of content," Gover said during his conversation with Rachael Cassidy (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma), NMAI Cultural Interpreter.

"And we can look out the window right here at the Capitol of the United States, and you realize its symbolic importance. This great stone edifice really, to me, stands for the proposition that Indians are still here, and we’re here to stay.”

On growing up in Comanche County, Oklahoma:

 Gover-Childhood (Click to Play)

EXCERPT: “I suppose my best memory was actually being at my grandmother and grandfather’s farm in Faxon, Oklahoma. It seemed like a carefree place to a child, and there were a million things to get in trouble over when you’re out on that much land with that many animals and that much farm equipment and, so, we did.”

On the biggest in influences in his life:

Gover-Biggest Influence (Click to Play)

EXCERPT: From my parents, the real lasting lesson was to accept people for who they are and to just never, ever judge somebody else because of the color of their skin or their economic background or their gender or religion or any of the other dozens and hundreds of ways we try to separate ourselves from other people. And they were insistent about that. For all their failings, that was something they drove home. That, and I suppose the idea of achieving to the limits of your potential. You know, the achievement part can be a bad thing if you become obsessed with achievement for your own sake. On the other hand, to strive for a cause is a good thing. And they taught me that.”

On choosing a career in law:

Gover- Law and Civil Rights (Click to Play)

EXCERPT: “I think it had something to do with the people that my parents exposed me to during the civil rights movement. There was a loose organization . . . that just called itself “the Group.” But they had taken on as their charter to try to end segregation in Lawton, Oklahoma, in both public and private facilities. And among the members of the group were some lawyers that I remember. I remember one named Maynard Ungerman, another named Bill Sexton. And I just saw how the Group had such a respect for them. When they spoke, everybody was listening. And I think that may be where I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer.”

On his struggles with alcoholism:

Gover-Alcoholism (Click to Play)

EXCERPT: “In my career as a drinker, I still have memories that I shudder over, things that I did, and just wish I could take them back. I know I can’t. . . . Almost everything I’ve done in my life that I’m genuinely ashamed of—not failing, but just ashamed of—happened when I was drinking. So that’s reason enough for me never to drink again.”

The National Day of Listening is an effort to encourage all Americans to honor a friend, loved one, or member of their community by interviewing them about their lives. StoryCorps has created a free do-it-yourself interview guide with equipment recommendations and interview instructions available online at www.nationaldayoflistening.org.


Comments (41)

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Totally enjoyed this interview. Would love to meet this gentleman. He has been involved with tribal peoples in many arenas, and just wished he could have been invited to the Klamath tribes, of which I am a member. He gives me hope, that at 62, I can continue my education after raising 6 children. We have no limits but those that we set ourselves. Indian people making a difference anywhere and everywhere we can!!

Even though I am not an American Indian, I think Kevin Grover can be an inspiration to everyone.

With regard to his bout with alcoholism, I know how devastating this disease can be. My mother was a recovering alcoholic for more than 26 years before she died. It was a daily struggle, but she used it to inspire others. When Kevin decided that he did not like the person he was when he was drinking, he used it to make a positive change in his life.

The wisdom he received from parents about accepting others without judgment is advice I think many people can benefit from today. So many of us are afraid to even acknowledge that there are differences between us, because it might not be 'politically correct' to do so.

I think it is wonderful to ask people about their different cultures. When we are open to hearing how other people live, without making judgments about them, we can actually put the National Day of Listening into effect on a daily basis.

Excellent. купить ноутбук Totally enjoyed this interview!

I can relate I have had a part time job as a drinker.

Great interview. Real experiences from real people like Kevin Gover can really serve to help a lot of people who face similar challenges.

thank you for the interview, it was very interesting. It helps other people realize that they are not alone in their struggles.

Excellent..very inspiring and informative.

great interview, we will recognize such a great work.

high value interview to listen to

Very informative blog.
nice to read.
good work
thanks for the posting.

It's wonderful to see that native American Indians are beginning to emerge into well documented and inspirational members of society. One day they may even be given the apology they so deserve. I really enjoyed the the article and gain some interesting and educational insight.

I have gone through similar times and it is great to see someone come through it as well!

Great interview. I would like to have an interview with this guy for my page.

Really very nice blog...
After a long time to find this kind of content...

Excellent, brilliant interview.

Your culture travels far. Even here in the very far south west of the United Kingdom in the county of Cornwall... there are many people with an avid interest in your fascinating culture.

Although us Celts are not too similar in many respects, I guess if we do share a common similarity... it's in our combined oral storytelling traditions.

Thank you very much indeed for posting this up.

Onen Hag Oll (One and All in the Cornish (Kernow) native language))

Mark Andrews
Cornwall UK

It's very nice and inspiring. There are many people in this world who are heroes but most will never get that recognition.

Best Regards,

Joe P.

Great to see this culture still being preserved, keep up the education!

Thank you for sharing your stories.

I am very glad to see that there is still hope. In my country the education is very low because the economic climate. You really are great!



inspiring one!! great work!!

Great story.

Very informative blog.

About Indians. Great!!!!


I met Kevin by accident once while I was taking some photos on vacation and he was a thoroughly interesting man.

Very interesting.

"This museum is really attempting to redefine a number of things. In particular and most importantly, it’s trying to redefine how Indians are represented in the museum world, and establishing a requirement that in order to represent these communities properly the community has to be deeply involved in the development of any sort of content"

I think that's very important and I hope it goes good.

I find this very interesting. I find myself 43 years old, sober, and wondering what to do. I believe I will return to school. Thanks to the commentor. If 63 is too old to go to school than 43 certainly isn't.

Very interesting blog, it is difficult to find a blog with high quality content like this, from already thank you very much.

It is fitting and just darn 'right' that an Indian community's members be involved in the decisions about what goes into their displays and stories in any U.S. museum. GD.

This was a great post. Thanks for the read :)

I think that is very important from public point of view.

very happy to read your blog.
thank you for sharing,I enjoyed the article.

Great and interesting story.
Thank you.

Thanks for this insightful information. I really enjoyed it. You provided some great values here.


Mr Gover sounds like a very interesting person. I would love to hear more about his opinions on native american history! Thank you for posting this interview!

Really really unique, good post, keep writing please.

It's the stories and people like these that give those of us who work with heritage and in museums the inspiration to work harder. Excellent article!


The museum is interesting. I especially enjoyed the piece on law and civil rights.

nice info,
thanks for sharing.. :)

I really enjoy reading such a inspiring article like this. Keep it up

I agree with Mark's comments above. This interview is pertinent to many communities worldwide where storytelling is an important part of the heritage. Her in Cornwall, stories have been passed down through many generations. Many stories are delivered through songs such as sea shanties.
Tom in Cornwall

It really is good and important to have a good memorable childhood! and glad you did.

And also having the courage and will to overcome alcoholism and even share with the public this personal journey!

Best regards!

July 30, 2010

2010 Prism Award Nominations Needed

Submissions for the 2010 Prism Award are now being accepted. The deadline for submission is Friday, August 20, 2010. Download 2010 Nomination Form FINAL

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian Prism Award honors outstanding individuals that make significant and exceptional contributions to Native American communities. Selected individuals demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach generally associated with community service. 

Criteria for Selection
The main qualification for selection is community service, as demonstrated by the individual’s ongoing commitment to the community.

Nominations should describe:
• The individual’s goals in serving the community.
• The population served (youth, senior citizens, community-at-large, etc)
• How the individual works with the community to achieve their goals.
• The outcome of this effort during the past two to three years.
• How the individual will sustain their efforts in the future.

The Executive Committee of the museum's Board of Trustees reviews all submissions. 

Last year the NMAI Prism Award was given to Maria Hinton (Oneida) and Irving Nelson (Navajo) during the museum's Anniversary Gala Reception held on Oct. 7, 2009.

We look forward to receiving your nominations.

- Kevin Gover


DSC_2164 Wes Studi presents the 2009 Prism Award to Maria Hinton's nephew, Ernie Stevens, Jr. 

2009 Prism Award winner Irving Nelson (right) and his son.


Comments (6)

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Congratulation for Maria Hinton (Oneida) and Irving Nelson (Navajo) as the winner of 2009 Prism Award.

Wonder who will get it this year? I didn't see this entry before now. Just wanted to add a short comment: Congratulations to Maria and Irving for their outstanding work and service attitude. They act as perfect role models and deserve to be held up high. Our society would be transformed if more people were like them.

Maria and Irving have set the bar level for their dedication and great work they have accomplished. They lead by example.

awesome post...keep it up!

Thanks. Good informations.

Awesome no words just keep it up

March 05, 2010

HIDE - A Thick-Skinned Beast


American Indians are often masters of metaphor. Alternative meanings that reflect our spirituality and the histories and narratives of our communities charge much of the world around us. This also extends to the artwork we create. There is no great mystery inherent to any of this, of course, nor are Native people unique in this way. It is a symptom of the human condition to crave and create meaning, to examine and interpret what we’ve been presented with, and to make choices about what we reveal or hide or see.

It’s also no surprise that skin—our most intimate cover for what’s literally on the inside of each of us—offers rich material in terms of metaphor. The English language presents a number of examples related to skin that we use without thought, almost daily. Some are cautionary words about illusion and reality, as in beauty is only skin deep. Other phrases—it’s like a second skin or it got under my skin—suggest comfort, or the lack of it. And descriptors like thick skinned or thin skinned speak of the emotional distance we maintain between ourselves and others. The same multilayered nature of the artworks in HIDE: Skin as Material and Metaphor is central not only to the exhibition but to this book’s essays. The exhibition—the name of which offers its own multiple meanings—assembles the work of several contemporary artists as they examine issues of identity and consider what it means to be Indian within the context of what we choose to reveal, to hide, and to see.

As individuals, our skin is not only a protection but also a document of our wounds and healing, a witness to our personal histories in the form of scars, stretch marks, and wrinkles. Maori, Hawaiian, and other traditional indigenous tattoo designs literally inscribe an individual’s story and life force on the skin, and many people today find it appropriate to express themselves by ornamenting their bodies with tattoos, makeup and other forms of paint, and piercings. These alterations aside (and despite American culture’s apparent obsession with preventing or treating signs of aging), we generally expect an individual’s skin to accurately represent their life experiences. After all, to be truly unimpeded by the confines of our histories, as documented in the form of our skin, is to belong to the indigenous realm of shapeshifters, those who possess supernatural abilities to change their physical form. At the end of the day, our skin keeps us honest. Try as we might, we cannot separate ourselves from it. And we should not want to.

Our “hides” are important to this dialogue as well. Entire communities may become defined, by themselves and others, based on what they collectively decide to reveal or keep hidden. Another significant conversation about identity and self determination is currently underway at the National Museum of the American Indian, in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in the form of the exhibition IndiVisible and its related scholarship. Like HIDE, IndiVisible considers surface appearances, and what they reveal and hide, within the specific context of our African-Native American communities.

Our “red” skin has meant a great many things to us and to others over the last several centuries. It has been venerated and nearly idolized, and it has made us vulnerable to hate and violence. It has been a source of pride and shame and confusion within our communities, especially as related to its various shades, which themselves bear witness to the various histories of our ancestors. And for as long as Native people have been recorded in images, we have been misrepresented, whether in the beautifully staged romantic photographs by Edward S. Curtis, the perverse exaggerations of sports mascots and Hollywood stereotypes, or the unintentional distortions by otherwise well-meaning individuals. The deconstruction of this imagery is central to HIDE. Here we ponder the artists’ representations of a few of the many ways of being a “real” twenty-first-century Indian: celebrating our beautiful skin, acknowledging the scars we bear as individuals and as tribal nations, and recognizing the scars we inflict on our Mother Earth. HIDE is also a manifestation of a larger and long-term initiative at the National Museum of the American Indian, namely its Modern and Contemporary Native Arts Program, which will continue to present thoughtful and innovative works by today’s leading Indian artists.

I am reminded of the words of American poet Walt Whitman—himself a master of metaphor—who once said, “The public is a thick-skinned beast, and you have to keep whacking away at its hide to let it know you’re there.” I’m grateful to the artists who continue to whack away, and in the process have enlightened us about who they—and who we all—are.

Kevin Gover (Pawnee)

Comments (43)

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Fascinating Kevin. I will be recommending this post and associated information on the exhibit to my class on Native American Spirituality and Lifestyle at Grossmont College this semester. We just reviewed some of Curtis' photos and the imagery that the Native faces he captured relate to us. The beautifully decorated hides as well as facial and body decoration do indeed tell us a "hidden" story.

The discussion of how we use skin all day long as a metaphor reminded me of some time I spent in Japan. They have a term there that they have taken from English - "skinship." It's about the importance of touch.

If you talk to your friend every day over a long distance, they feel there is a missing component in Japan. Skinship is when two people touch, whether they are friends or something more.

As much as skin represents our age through wrinkles and our genetic history through color, it also expresses our emotions through touch. In this modern world, real touch is often lacking as we only communicate via the internet.

Absolutely valuable your individual writings to help me. So I currently have received a lot because of your current blogs and it is my best opportunity to share the great viewpoints with you.I hope we all can make contact much more by the mailbox and blog.Thanks a lot.

I really like traditional style tattoos and have been studying them for some time so I really enjoyed this article. The interesting thing is that at the shop I work at near Portland, Oregon we do a lot of tattoos that reflect people's lives. Many people want to get the names of their children or family name tattoo'd on their body. The one name I have trouble with sometimes is if it is from someone who has died. I just wonder if they really want to be reminded of that their whole life. You can see some of our tattoos here: http://troutdaletattoo.com/tag/custom-tattoo-portland/

I really loved the imagery of the skin as not just being an outward protection but a visible reflection of ones wounds and healing. Very powerful.


Daniel Tetreault.
Sidney, BC

I loved this article and am a student of tattooing. My skin is a diary of my life, from wounds from my younger days to the sanskrit tattoo that marks my union with my wife it will forever keep me honest.

I find ancient language tattoos to be fascinating especially those in runic alphabets or in sanskrit.

For Native people, skin encompasses an entire universe of meaning. Our own skin functions as a canvas that we can inscribe with messages about our identity or use as a shield to protect and hide our secrets.This book seems really interesting.I will make a point to go through this book.

I wonder how this would interplay with the position of the original peoples of Australia. Are there any metaphors you think are universal?


Skin is our Identity, I mean, we can identify each individuals if they are old, or young, by looking at their skin. As simple as that, anyway thanks to this great post, I learn from it.

As much as skin represents our age through wrinkles and our genetic history through color, it also expresses our emotions through touch. In this modern world, real touch is often lacking as we only communicate via the internet.

Your ending about Whitman brought to mind one of my favorites quotes: "The finest clothing made is a person's own skin." ~ Mark Twain

I will tell you a secret, we are all magnificent spirits in human form, we are all God in disguise. We are the truth and the light. If all people knew this for sure, it would be the end of all suffering.

Thanks for the well written post. Some people are skin conscious. Some discriminate against other people by their skin color whether it is dark or white, but what matters is we are all God's creation.

A great story about your employee and her being half-Irish. VERY honored!

Our skin may be red, black, white or somewhere in between, but we truly are "one" and should celebrate our beautiful skin.

“The public is a thick-skinned beast, and you have to keep whacking away at its hide to let it know you’re there.”

Our cloak in society, Its a very interesting read. It means so much to us and so little, when we think about it. We treasure our hide and yet take it for granted. hmmm... interesting read indeed.


having only studied indian culture intemittently I never realized the importance of skin. It makes complete obvious sense but now looking back it clarifies and intrigues me on many indian styles and references.

Since my teenage days i had been very conscious of my skin color, i have tried different kinds of soaps and lotions to make me more fair. But then i realize it really doesn't matter what skin color you have, what's important is your attitude and how you carry yourself. Cheers!!


An eye-opener. I never really noticed the many uses of the word skin as a metaphor before coming across this post. Really interesting information. The importance of skin in our being, image, and self expression and the meanings associated go far further than i ever thought. Thanks for the post.

Once again, insightful, to say the least....

I absolutely admire lines like this : "As individuals, our skin is not only a protection but also a document of our wounds and healing, a witness to our personal histories in the form of scars, stretch marks, and wrinkles. "

I got a bit sidetracked off my work using google, but glad i found this story about skin, natives and metaphors...
back to work!

I admire too the metaphore of skin. It is simply terrific. Congratulations

Absolutely valuable your individual writings to help me. So currently have received a lot because of your current blogs and it is my best opportunity to share the great viewpoints with you.I hope we all can make contact much more by the mailbox and blog. Thanks a lot.

An interesting article that i will be keeping my readers linked to...

Cheltenham 2011

Brilliant article. I understand why our skin is a means of so many metaphors, after all skin is our personal "force shield" in sci fi terms. Without our skin, we are defenseless and we will die.


Einstein told us that we need a higher level of thinking to get ourselves out of the mess than the thinking that got us into the mess. Stephen Covey tells us that in such situations as we are in today we need a quantum change that can only be brought about by a completely new paradigm. Our current way of living is the paradigm that got us into the mess. The Indian approach is probably the paradigm that will get us out of the mess. If we read this book with an open mind and without prejudice, I believe that the Native American paradigm should be at the top of the shortlist of new paradigms from which we should make our selection for building the world we want for our children.

Terrific Article Kevin. Its amazing how the skin can mean so much and be so powerful. I guess it must be one of the oldest methods of communication as such!

It goes back to..."the old ways are the best ways." I learned about the meaning of skin. The use of metaphors with skin is interesting. Out skin is like the first page of a long book. Many thanks for this.

That is true of contemporary art.. It's a symptom of the human condition to crave and create meaning, to examine and interpret what we’ve been presented with, and to make choices about what we reveal or hide or see.

Nice article! Fact is people tend to put too much emphasis on color of skin that leaves them blind to what makes each individual unique and beautiful.

Kevin, your post is very informative. And I agree to what you said. It's true that people hide their true self or feelings through the what we used to see in them, physically or the outer side of them is very different from the inside. It's quite the same with the saying that "true beauty is on the inside, and not on the outer side of a person".

I want to be with the Natives for even just a week so that I can learn more about their lives. If only I have the financial capacity to travel.

This is an interesting article.
As a young person I am unaware of
African Indians back in the early days.

Thanks for the educational article.

A human being skin color has always been a mystery to the untrained mind of hate all that's your color may be your kind is dumbfounded. ones color should not deteriorate ones ability to blessed others with wisdon, understanding and above all knowing, one should strive to be a citizen of the world.

Very interesting and intriguing story you have here. Oh how I love this quote, "The public is a thick-skinned beast, and you have to keep whacking away at its hide to let it know you’re there." Superb indeed!

Richard Barrick

Very smart article. I get why our skin is a means of so many metaphors, after all skin is our personal "force shield" in sci fi terms. Without our skin, we are defenseless and we will die.

What's an amazing post! It's very interesting and awesome. There are so many interesting not usual facts there. It also showes how deep could be connection between a body, language and feelings.

I love Indian Art in any form. I purchased a Sand Painting on one of our trips through New Mexico several years ago. It is so unique and original.

I am very pleased with this article, with our skin, we can express the world of our own lives, that is the art of tattoos

Very true. A few things that i found out studying tribal tattoos..

a. In Maori culture, persons with moko (Maori tattoo) represent they have higher social status;

b. Celtic cross means faith, unity and eternity of

c. God’s love while Celtic knot is symbolic of
life’s journey, and represents a continuity of life with no beginning and no end, a journey to one’s spiritual center.

When inked, these represent true faith and feelings of the individual.

Great article - thanks!
With one in four of the world's population being inked, the skin has become a true meduium of this art form.
Always remember... Think before you ink :)

I really loved the imagery of the skin as not just being an outward protection but a visible reflection of ones wounds and healing. Very powerful.

very true indeed

September 21, 2009

National Potluck Event Offers Unique Fundraising Opportunity

Potluck Post Card - FrontTheresa Secord (Penobscot, b. 1958), Ear of corn basket, 2003. Natural and dyed wicker-plaited black ash splints with wart-weave overlay, diameter 10 cm., length 42 cm. Photo by Ernest Amoroso. 26/1694

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the opening of our flagship museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This event culminated 15 years of dedicated work to accomplish the dream to create a national museum for and about the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere in the nation’s capital.

This year, we are not only celebrating this 5th anniversary, we are also celebrating the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Cultural Resources Center, our collections storage facility in Suitland, MD, the 15th anniversary of the opening of the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City, and, on November 28, we mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the legislation that gave birth to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).

Five years ago nations assembled in Washington, D.C. to mark the opening of the Mall Museum. The NMAI community finally had its flagship building. This anniversary, we want to bring the NMAI community to your hometown and everyone is invited.

On November 28, we will be holding the first-ever National Potluck. This is a social fundraising event where all who support and believe in the Museum are invited to become a fundraising ambassador for the NMAI.

We have a goal to raise $50,000 because we not only want to celebrate the past, but look forward to the future. Proceeds from the National Potluck will go toward our exhibitions, public programs and other activities.

Participation is easy and fun. First, go to our National potluck website http://go.si.edu/NMAIpotluck and register to be a Host. When you register you will be able to create your own Personal Potluck web page that you can send to your family and friends. They will be able to make a donation to the Museum through your page.

Next, plan your potluck event. You can host a potluck in your home, raffle off a piece of your art or keep it virtual. See our Potluck Ideas page (click on “Resources”) for some other ideas for fundraising events.

Finally, join us on November 28, for our Foodways of the Americas program. We understand that not everyone can make it to D.C., so we will be webcasting portions of this public program, bringing the NMAI community to your home so that you can share our community with your potluck guests.

We couldn’t think of a better way to end our anniversary season by gathering together supporters of the National Museum of the American Indian from all over the country and the world. I hope you will be joining us.

Comments (10)

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Ahhhhh I'm definitely going! I'm so excited, American Indian culture is so beautiful and inspiring. So many amazing visuals and customs.

The American Indians are amazing. I will take my little girl their to see this museum. "Welcome to the Big Museum" she likes to say!

I love american indian culture.

I wish you luck in acheiving your goal of raising $50,000.

I also like your saying "we not only want to celebrate the past, but look forward to the future"
Although I acknowledge alot of wrongs were inflicted upon native americans, dwelling on the past doesn't help and focusing on a better future is the way.

I commend you for your efforts to celebrate and immortalize American Indian culture through the museum and website.

It reminds me of our very own Kenya culture where some marginalized indigenous people are forging ahead in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties.

Keep up the good work!

I find it very warming that someone is close to his roots. There should be more like you. I am originally Pakistani British Born and many people forget their roots. Hats off to you.


the National Museum of the American Indian is very amazing. I think many people like that.

Being an American Indian, I'm glad to see the progress of our people and of the national museum. Keep up the good work! Tyler

It is such a good idea for having those ways for collecting funds for the projects. Surely donors would appreciate the outcome of their kindness.

I wish you luck on raising $50,000


Thanks for the post, would love to go there one day and see what its like first hand.