AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
WHOSE CULTURE IS "NATURAL HISTORY?"
"Dinosaurs eating Indians, bathroom diplay cases with dream catchers and miniature tipis, and black and white photographs of 'dead Indians' hang next to photographs of taxidermy bird specimens. These are but a few of the examples I have encountered during my research on American Indian representations within mainstream museums. These images are symbolic of the myriad microaggressions American Indian people face in our daily lives. In reflecting on these experiences, I have come to realize the co-constitutive nature of pop-culture (mis)representations and the display of American Indian "cultures" in museums and other well-respected educational institutions...
These are the visual representations that American Indian children ---- and everyone else ---- see every single day.
For Indian kids, these images limit the possibilities and opportunities they see in their futures.
Ultimately, these images work to dehumanize Indigenous people to dismiss the urgency of the problems facing our
nations and communities."
Scroll through the images below, from left to right, to see the sequence of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional exhibits in the "Plains Indians" and the "Eastern Woodlands Indians" wings of the American Museum of Natural History.
These images represent both adult and children's "eye line view." It's important to understand the effect that these perspectives and compositions have on how we interpret what we see.