Mitchell Museum’s New Exhibit “Heritage Markers: Local Native American History & Cultures” Opens July 21st
From street signs to statues, Native American heritage is all around us. Names like “Illinois,” “Chicago,” and “Wilmette” are all derived from American Indian languages. Dotted throughout the area are markers of Native American heritage from yesterday and today. And over 40,000 American Indian peoples representing over 150 tribes live in the Chicago metropolitan area. The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian explores the stories, contributions, and legacies of these Native peoples – past and present – with its latest exhibit “Heritage Markers: Local Native American History & Cultures,” opening Friday, July 21st.
The exhibit uses local heritage markers, contemporary Native organizations, street signs, and town names, as a jumping-off points to discuss the local American Indian history. It begins with arrowheads and stone tools found in the backyards of Evanston, in order to explore the tribal presence throughout northern Illinois. Tribal oral histories and origin stories with be contrasted with an archeological interpretation of regional sites like the Garrison Site. The exhibit examines certain Anishinaabe (Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi) customs and practices, as well as the history of interactions between Native peoples and European settlers. Visitors can experience sitting inside a birch bark wigwam hunting lodge and encounter hands-on materials such as deer and beaver hides, reed mats, and parfleche.
“We often don’t realize the meaning of the names in the places we live, but Native American heritage is all around us. This exhibit explains those stories and presents them in a way that tells the complex history of tribes moving in and out of Northeast Illinois for thousands of years. Even though Illinois does not have any reservations, there is a vibrant American Indian community in Chicago,” said Kathleen McDonald, the exhibit curator and executive director.
The exhibit opens Friday, July 21st, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. At 3:30, visitors can join Kathleen McDonald on a spotlight tour of the new exhibit.
The Mitchell Museum is one of only a handful of museums in the country that focuses exclusively on the art, history, and culture of American Indian and First Nation peoples throughout the United States and Canada. In 2012, The Mitchell Museum was named “Best Museum of The North Shore: Up and Comer” by Make it Better magazine, won the Superior award by the Illinois Association of Museums and was named a national finalist by the American Association of State and Local History award program.
For more information about The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, visit www.mitchellmuseum.org or call 847-475-1030. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, students and children, and Free for Mitchell Museum members and Tribal members. Through Labor Day, the Blue Star Museums Program is offering free regular admission with ID.