October 12, 2012

Exciting Webcasts Coming this Fall

Summer is over, but the fall is shaping up to be a great season for programs here at the National Museum of the American Indian. Many of these programs will be webcast live on our webcast page, http://nmai.si.edu/multimedia/webcasts. In addition to finding live webcasts, you can go to that page just about any time and see the webcast programs that will be coming up. Sometimes you will find the most recent webcast is still there for replaying. Most of our webcasts will be posted on our YouTube page in high definition video within a few days of the event. Check out our various playlists on our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/SmithsonianNMAI to see past webcast events.


Printmaking Workshop with Jorge Porrata, Saturday, October 14, 11 am - 12 pm and 2-3 pm

Jorge (2)


Poet and artist Jorge Luis Porrata will conduct a workshop designed for children and their families in this webcast that comes from the museum's imaginNATIONS Activity Center. Learn about the rich legacy and way of life of the Taino people throught the art of storytelling, artist's works and printmaking. In these hands-on activities, participants will create artwork based on Taino words commonly used in countries like Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

[Photo - Jorge with Child, courtesy of Jorge Luis Porrata]



Stellar Connections: Explorations in Cultural Astronomy, Saturday, October 20, 2012, 2-4:30 pm

Arctic photo

Our first symposium of the fall will focus on indigenous knowledge of the sky. Also called archaeoastronomy or ethnoastronomy, cultural astronomy examines how the night sky provides spiritual and navigational guidance, timekeeping, weather prediction, and stories and legends that tell us how to live a proper life. Our panel of experts will present and compare Native traditions and sky wisdom from around the world. Gary Urton, the Dumbaron Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies at Harvard University, will speak on “Cosmologies aof the Milky Way: South American Views on the Unity of Earth and Sky.” Michael Wassegijig Price, an Anisihinaabe of the Wikwemikong First Nations will present “Underwater Panthers, Thunderbirds, and Anishinaabe Star Knowledge.” John MacDonald worked for 25 years as coordinaor of he Igloolik Research Center where he collaborated closely with Inuit elders to record and document oral history and traditional knowledge of the region. He will speak on “The Arctic Sky: Inuit Astronomy, Star Lore, and legend.” Babatunde Lawal, professor of Art History at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, specializes in African And African Diaspora art. He will reveal African traditions in “A Big Calabash with Two Halves: The Yoruba Vision of the Cosmos.”

[Photo - Artic photo.jpg Caption: Detail from the cover of The Arctic Sky: Kenojuak Ashevak, Nunavut Qajanaartuk (Our beautiful land) hand-colored lithograph, 1992.]


Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports, Thursday, November 1, 10 am - 5:45 pm

Mascots (2)

The museum begins Native American Heritage Month with a thought-provoking day examining one of the most persistent issues that divides Native and non-Native in our sports-loving land. Join commentators, scholars, authors, and representatives from sports organizations for a Symposium of panel discussions on racist stereotypes and cultural appropriation in American sports. The distinguished panelists will explore the mythology and psychology of sports stereotypes and mascots, examine the retirement of “Native American” sports references and collegiate efforts to revive them despite the NCAA’s policy against “hostile and abusive” names and symbols, and engage in a lively community conversation about the name and logo of the Washington, D.C. professional football organization.

 [Photo - Mascots.jpg Caption: Edgar Heap of Birds, American Leagues, 1996. Billboard, 6 x 12 ft., commissioned by the Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio. Photo courtesy of the artist.]


Nixon and the American Indian: The Movement to Self-Determination, Thursday, November 15, 10:30 am - 12 pm


[Photo - NixonSigning.jpg Caption: President Richard Nixon signing landmark legislation on Native American sovereignty at the White House, December 15,1970. Photo by Oliver F. Atkins.]

At the height of the civil rights movement, great strides in American Indian self-determination were made through key policies and legislation crafted by the Nixon White House. Tune in and learn from White House and administration officials who worked with President Nixon as they discuss the leadership, legislation, and litigation necessary to implement these policies and the implications they have for Native Americans then and today. The Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, will deliver opening remarks. This event is cosponsored with the Richard Nixon Foundation and the National Archives.


Social Media for Live Audiences

For some of our webcasts we will be displaying a Twitter hash tag and invite our live webcast audience to tweet comments or questions. We may also provide an email address for questions to direct to symposium speakers. We are still working out these kinds of details, but we will make it clear during the webcast how one may interact.


More to Come

The museum has many programs coming that will not be webcast, but planning for the events is an ongoing process, so it is likely that more events will get webcast requests. Keep an eye on our calendar page and check our NMAI blog to keep informed!

Mike Christal produces the Museum's webcasts.

Comments (27)

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Me parece muy bien que este museo tenga estos eventos tan maravillosos, y encima nos mantenga tan bien informados en todo momento. Enorabuena!!

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December 30, 2011

Thank yous and closing credits for 2011, from NMAI's Film and Video Center

FVC 2011

With 2012 almost here, the staff of the museum's Film and Video Center (FVC) wants to share with you a look at what we did in 2011.

For their lively participation and creative gifts, we want to thank the filmmakers whose works we have screened this year, the program speakers who gave us new insights; the interpreters who made fluid our on-site and Internet discussions in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and indigenous languages; and the four guest selectors for the 15th Native American Film + Video Festival: Ana Rosa Duarte (Yucatec Maya), Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot'in), Terry Jones (Seneca), and Nancy Marie Mithlo (Chiricahua Apache).

The festival, March 31 through April 3, was this year’s main event. One hundred works were screened and discussed by the filmmakers and other cultural activists here to show their work and exchange ideas. More than 75 Native nations from 11 countries in the Americas were represented in this year’s events. For a good look at what took place, visit the festival's handsome web page. We tried to capture a sense of the experience in this video overview:


The department is also a national resource for information services about Native film and media, and work leapt ahead on the redesign of the Native Networks Website and on developing our database on indigenous media. We began to use social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter to continue conversations about Native film and promote a diversity of programs. We responded to hundreds of inquiries and this year hosted more than 40 researchers using the media study collection. We are particularly pleased to have had as a resident fellow Maite Sanz de Galdeano of Cultura de Futuro in Madrid.

In response to the urgency expressed in many film submissions this year, FVC initiated Mother Earth in Crisis to showcase and discuss outstanding films about environmental issues. This on-going program was launched during the festival with a full-day event that included filmmakers and eloquent leaders Chief Oren Lyons (Onondaga and Seneca) and Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga). 

Mother Earth in Crisis was also the theme of two fall presentations featuring the Conversations with the Earth project for indigenous community media, and selections from the series Samaqan/Water Stories, with outstanding commentary by Chief Brian David of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.

This year’s Native Cinema Showcase (NCS) in Santa Fe moved to a new venue, and expanded to a week-long event, opening with On the Ice, the multiple award-winning first feature by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiat). In New York, the 2011 Animation Celebration! and other daily screenings were well-received, including special screenings for Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, and the December holidays.

Other highlights include a partnership with UCLA’s Motion Picture and Television Archives and Cinema Tropical to screen a retrospective of works by filmmaker Pedro Daniel López (Tzotzil Mayan) in New York and Los Angeles. Other screenings with discussions included Smokin’ Fish by Luke Griswold-Turgis and Cory Mann (Tlingit); and Grab by Billy Luther (Navajo/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo), which screened with a Laguna-style “grab," or gift toss, to the audience in both New York and Santa Fe. Here I Am, the first feature of Aboriginal filmmaker Beck Cole (Luritja/Warrumunga), had a special screening at the Heye Center before going to Toronto to win Best Feature in the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival.

Thanks and Appreciation

The FVC’s programs could not have flourished without the generous support and lively contributions of so many filmmakers, funders, colleagues, and friends. We are all especially appreciative of this year’s festival manager, Reaghan Tarbell (Mohawk), for accomplishing the immense job and making a fabulous festival.

FVC continued partnering and working with other organizations, including Agua Caliente Cultural Museum’s Film and Culture Festival in Palm Springs; Cinema Tropical; the Experimental Film Festival of Madrid; the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival; the International Center for Transitional Justice; the Mexican Cultural Institute, Native American Public Telecommunications; New York University’s Native Forum and its Centers for Media, Culture & History and Media & Religion; SWAIA (the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts); the Tribeca Film Institute; and many other groups.

Comings and Goings

The Film and Video Center staff is going through a lot of changes, and there have been many goodbyes. Having worked as the FVC’s information specialist and programmer for more than 30 years, Millie Seubert has returned home to Oklahoma. Reaghan Tarbell has started work towards an M.A. in Cinema Studies at Concordia University in Montreal, returning home to live on the Kahnewake Reserve. Also returning home to Georgia is program assistant Rebekah Mejorado. Gaby Markey, FVC’s invaluable administrative support staff for the past 6 years, has now joined the staff of FEMA.

Newest additions to the staff include Fatima Mahdi, coordinator of database and media study activities; Lindsey Cordero, Latin American Program assistant; and Aaron Kutnick, media producer working on films about FVC’s programs for on-line posting. Wendy Allen continues to provide her talents to the new design of the Native Networks website and the Film and Video Center’s own web page on the NMAI site. Cindy Benitez returns in January, and Amalia and Elizabeth are still at work developing the program and FVC’s future possibilities. This year, perhaps the greatest welcome we give is to Ayelén Avirama, born in February. 

What an incredible year it has been!

All our best,

Elizabeth Weatherford, Amalia Cordova, Wendy Allen, Fatima Mahdi, Aaron Kutnick, Lindsey Cordero & Cindy Benitez 

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very expressive quality film festival I love her

Tks everything. greatings from vietnam

Nice Video

Tks everything. greatings from vietnam

November 10, 2011

Honoring Native veterans, at the museum and with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma

Iraq powwow

Drum circle during the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion powwow at Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, 2004. Photo by Master Sergeant Chuck Boers (Lipan Apache/Oklahoma Cherokee, b. 1964). Gift of Sergeant Debra K. Mooney and members of the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion. D00142

The next time you visit the museum on the Mall in Washington, stop and take a look at three new cases opposite the entrance to the Mitsitam Cafe. Honoring Indian Traditions in a Combat Zone is a small but important exhibit that tells the story of the powwow organized in 2004 by Sergeant Debra Mooney (Choctaw) and the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion in Iraq.

Held at the Al Taqaddum Air Base near Fallujah, the two-day event featured Native regalia, dancing and singing, and traditional games and foods, including genuine fry bread. Participants made their powwow drum from a discarded 55-gallon oil barrel and canvas from a cot. The goal of the powwow was to bring a piece of home to Native Americans serving in Iraq while sharing their cultural heritage with fellow soldiers, marines, and sailors.

American Indians have served in the U.S. military since the American revolution, and by percentage they serve more than an other ethnic group. If you can't be in Washington this weekend, a Native community closer to home is no doubt observing Veterans Day. If home is anywhere near Okmulgee, Oklahoma—coincidentally, headquarters of the the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion—you're particularly in luck: The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Museum and Cultural Center is hosting a special exhibition featuring Native American servicemen and servicewomen.

3radio_messangersNative Words, Native Warriorsproduced by NMAI and the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and on view at the Veterans Affairs Services building at the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Complex—tells the remarkable stories of Native American soldiers who used their Native languages as battlefield codes during World Wars I and II. These soldiers came from many tribes: Assiniboine, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Chippewa, Choctaw, Comanche, Cree, Crow, Dakota Sioux, Hopi, Kiowa, Lakota Sioux, Menominee, Meskwaki, Muscogee, Navajo, Oneida, Pawnee, and Seminole. Best known are the Navajo code talkers of World War II, whose history has been popularized in documentaries and feature films. But as early as October, 1918, during World War I, eight Choctaw soldiers serving in northern France used their language to save other Allied soldiers' lives.

The exhibition at Okmulgee is enriched by extensive displays of Muscogee veterans' mementoes, awards, uniforms, and documents, as well as historic photographs and accompanying texts that recognize the contributions of Muscogee members of the U.S. Armed Forces. An honor guard will be present at the exhibition opening on Veterans Day. The exhibition is on view through February 29, 2012. 

NMAI 26-5148Looking ahead, on December 2, Debra Mooney will be at NMAI in Washington to take part in a program about Native American soldiers' experiences during wartime. She will be joined by Chuck Boers (Lipan Apache/Cherokee), an Iraq War veteran (and participant with Sgt. Mooney in the Al Taqaddum Inter-Tribal Powwow), recipient of two Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts; John Emhoolah (Kiowa), a Korean War veteran who joined the Oklahoma Thunderbird Division while he was still in high school; and Joseph Medicine Crow (Apsáalooke [Crow]), a World War II veteran who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Attorney Jason Giles (Muscogee [Creek]), a Vietnam War veteran, will moderate the discussion. Herman J. Viola, curator emertius at the Smithsonian, will chronicle the roles of Native soldiers from 1770 to the present.

If neither Washington nor Okmulgee is in your travel plans this year, the December presentation will be webcast live. In the meantime, have a wonderful, grateful Veterans Day.


Upper: Marine radio messengers on their way to Okinawa, Japan, 1945. Left to right: Private First Class Joe Hosteen Kelwood (Navajo), Steamboat Canyon, AZ; Pvt. Floyd Saupitty (Comanche), Lawton, OK; and Private First Class Alex Williams (Navajo), Leupp, AZ. Courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Lower: Drum, stand, and drumsticks, 2004. Metal, canvas, wood, commercially tanned leather, plastic, nylon cord, adhesive tape, metal nails. Made by members of the U.S. Army's 120th Engineer Combat Battalion, headquartered in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, and used during their Al Taqaddum Inter-Tribal Powwow, September 17–18, 2004, in Al Taqaddum, Iraq. Gift of Sergeant Debra K. Mooney and members of the 120th Engineer Combat Battalion.

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October 05, 2011

Ponca Road Trip 2011: One Family's Journey to Washington, D.C. - Part 2

Photo_lunch The Upton family -- Talia, Harley T, Zonte and Kokoa -- during a pitstop on their road trip to the museum. Harley Upton (not pictured) is chronicling his family's journey to D.C. for this weekend's Ponca Festival. (Photo by Harley Upton).

Harley Upton, a member of the Ponca tribe, is driving across the country with his wife and three sons to be a part of this weekend's Ponca Festival. The Upton family has graciously agreed to chronicle their road trip and what it means to them to be making this journey. After yesterday afternoon's post from Omaha, Harley writes to us from Illinois:


We pass through to the state of Illinois over the Mississippi river at 3:30 p.m. The boys saw the sign and mentioned that they had learned about the Mississippi river in history. So my boy Kakoa gave me a history lesson. LOL! He is such a intelligent kid. I love him! We can see the autumn taking its full affect alongside the road. It is a beautiful site to see. 

A view of the landscape during the Upton family's road trip: "Autumn taking its full affect alongside the road," Harley writes (Photo by Harley Upton).

Now we have stopped in in Morris, IL for a pitstop. My eyes are starting to get tired so I am grabbing some coffee and a bite to eat. My wife had prepared some fried chicken and ribs the night before, so we are going to feast in the car. I just wish I had some fry bread! We are about 60 miles from CHI-Town….  

Photo_eats on the road The Upton boys enjoy a feast in the car -- homemade fried chicken and ribs prepared by their mother, Talia (Photo by Harley Upton).

About 6:30 p.m. we drove on I-80 through Chi-Town ... This is when I thought I was on a race track, the driving is so different here. I had to be a bit more aggressive with my driving, or would get bumped off the interstate.  By this time the family was busy watching a movie. The sun was slowly setting to the west. My eyes began to adjust to the night. 

  Photo_football Inspired by their trip through "Rudy" territory (Indiana), the Upton boys throw the football around during a rest from the road (Photo by Harley Upton).

Around 8:30 p.m., we drove through South Bend, Indiana. I start to hear chanting from the back of the SUV, "RUDY!"……"RUDY!" I began to laugh, I was like what? Then it dawn on me: the movie "Rudy." I thought that was so cool that my boys remembered Notre Dame.

It was around 10:30 when we entered the state of Ohio. At this time the family begin to fall asleep, the little one Kakoa was still watching his movies, resting his head on a pillow against the window. I sipped on some coffee, then I saw a sign saying Cleveland 110 miles, we were getting to closer.

At 12:30 a.m. we entered Cleveland from the west, this was the furthest I've gone in my life. I wondered what my forefathers before me thought once they got deeper east, more and more away from home. I sang a prayer song to myself as the family was sleeping, I was hitting the side of the steering wheel, as if it was a hand drum. Many songs come to mind when I am driving --  old powwow songs, ceremony songs, flag songs and many more. Then I looked up at my GPS. It said that I was 400 miles away from D.C. I had driven 750 miles, I thank the Creator for keeping my travel safe.

   Photo_boys Two of the Upton sons pose for a picture after taking a much-needed break playing football. (Photo by Harley Upton).

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October 04, 2011

Ponca Road Trip 2011: One Family's Journey to Washington, D.C.

Photo_family The Upton family  at the start of their drive from Omaha to D.C. for this weekend's Ponca Festival. It will be the family's first trip to the nation's capital (Photo by Harley Upton)

This weekend the museum is hosting the Ponca Nation of Nebraska for “We Are a People: The Ponca Journey,” a free two-day festival featuring music, dance, play readings, a film screening and panel discussions with the Ponca Nation. Harley Upton, a member of the Ponca tribe, is driving across the country with his wife and three sons to be a part of the festival. The Upton family just left Omaha this morning, and have graciously agreed to chronicle their road trip and what it means to them to be making this journey. 

He writes:

I am making this journey for my people. I am honored to take the journey to D.C. It has always been my dream to see this place. I represent the Northern Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. I was originally raised on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona, this is the place of mother. My father is of the Ponca Tribe, this is why I set out on finding my Ponca roots. I was in Los Angeles in 1980, I am now 31-years-old. I have a wife and three boys. My wife, Talia Upton, is of the White Mountain Apache in Arizona. We met each other when we were both in the military in Hawaii. She was in the Navy, I was in the Marine Corps. From there we had three boys. All born right there in Hawaii. Harley T. Upton was the first to be born, he is now 11-years-old, then along came Zonte, who is now 9-years-old, then finally we had Kakoa, he is now 7-years-old. We are both now working together at Boystown as Family Teachers. We care for Native American youth.

Photo1Upton's three sons eagerly await the start of the drive. (Photo by Harley Upton)


We arrived at Des Moines, Iowa at 12 p.m. The boys are having fun, playing cards and watching movies on the DVD player. Harley, the older, is sleeping now. He is not one for long road trips. The other two boys are playing cards.

I sit here thinking to myself how my ancestors made this journey long ago. It was a tough journey for them. So I should not complain about my back, or being tired. I ask the Creator to watch over us as we drive these many miles to D.C.. This what my forefathers would have done when they made these long journeys. 

  Photo_mapUpton's wife, Talia, a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, studies a map during a pit stop. (Photo by Harley Upton)

We are now almost in Davenport, IA. It's about 2 p.m., we have about 3 hours before we hit CHI town. I am still telling the boys how much fun they will have once we get there. They are now telling me that they are starving, so we stop at a store to fill up on gas and food. We're comfortable now. Let's keep on driving. My wife tells me that she is also excited, she has never been past Cleveland.

This is a road trip, so we will take our time getting there. No hurries, or worries.

~ Harley Upton, Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, Oct. 4, 2011


Harley Upton (left) and his wife and their boys, en route to Washington, D.C. (Photo by Harley Upton)  


This Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the museum's Rasmuson Theater, Upton will be performing alongside Louis Headman, an honored elder of the Southern Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, in a staged reading of Waaxe’s Law. The play, written by Cherokee playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle, is a dramatic re-enactment of the historic trial of Ponca Chief Standing Bear, who successfully argued in 1879 that Native Americans should be recognized as "persons under the law."

For a view schedule of the festival's events, visit click here


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A very happy family. I hope we can be like that.