The National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall has exhibits about the life, arts, languages, and history of Native Americans.
The American Indian museum was established by an Act of Congress in 1989 and opened on September 21, 2004 under the direction of the Smithsonian Institution. The five-story museum has a sinuous exterior facade of golden-colored Kasota limestone reminiscent of wind-worn natural rock formations.
The term American Indian encompasses Native Americans from North, South, and Central America. The cultures include the Incas from Peru, the Mayas from Central America, the Aztecs, Olmecs, Chichimecs, and Teotihuacanos from Mexico, and the Apache, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Comanche, Dakota, Navaho, Seminoles, and many other tribes of the northern territories in the United States and Canada.
The rotunda in the interior courtyard of the museum is called the Potomac, and it is separated from the entrance corridors by an elaborate fence of hammered copper plates and copper tubing interwoven with the supporting poles. Widows fitted with prisms project rainbows on the walls when the sun shines. The Potomac area is used to display large items such as kayaks, and for demonstrating native dances and crafts. The galleries contain information about the diverse native cultures with four permanent exhibitions:
The Rasmuson theater is used for presentations of Native drama, dance, music performances, and seminars. A bronze and ceramic relief sculpture entitled For Life in all Directions by Roxanne Swentzell is featured at the entrance of the theater. The museum has a large collection of flint arrowheads and pre-Columbian artifacts.
The museum shop sells ceramics, jewelry, and other crafts made by Native Americans. The Mitsitam Cafe serves indigenous dishes based on native American cultures. Food from the great plains includes buffalo burgers, whereas the food from the north-west features salmon. There are also South American Indian dishes with beans and corn.
On August 12, 2009, President Barack Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Chief Joseph Medicine Crow wearing traditional head dress in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the country's highest civilian honor, and it was awarded for valiant service during World War II. Joseph Medicine Crow, who is 95-years old and the oldest Crow Indian, completed the four battlefield deeds that made him the last Crow war chief. He wore war paint beneath his uniform and a sacred feather beneath his helmet during the war. The Chief's grandfather was a scout who served for General George Custer during the Battle of Little Bighorn.
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Native American Indian Genealogy
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American Indian Tribal List: Native American Tribes and Languages
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