Newberry to Mark Native American Heritage Month with Major Exhibition, New Website

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Home to one of the world’s foremost archives related to American Indians and the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere, the Newberry Library today announced it will this November celebrate National Native American Heritage Month with an exciting new exhibition to accompany the recent launch of a permanent, educational website. The website is made possible by generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Conceived and developed by the Newberry’s D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies, “Indians of the Midwest” is a multimedia educational website that will engage and inform a broad public audience about major issues in American Indian history and culture. Marrying the library’s rich collections on Native American history with state-of-the art interactive web capabilities, the site will contribute to the public discourse on key contemporary issues involving American Indians— such as debates over gaming, the disposition of archaeological sites and objects, fishing rights, or sports mascots—that often lack historical and cultural context.

“The information on the ‘Indians of the Midwest’ website is organized around several broad themes that continue to resonate today but whose roots in the complex history of the region and its people are often misunderstood or distorted in public debate,” said Dr. Scott Stevens, Director of the D’Arcy McNickle center. “In addition to historical collections, the site will also feature contemporary photos, interviews with contemporary American Indian scholars and tribal members, interactive maps, and links to tribal and other websites.”

To further highlight these issues and enrich the public’s experience with, and knowledge of, Native American materials, the Newberry will mount an exhibition featuring a wide variety of historically and culturally significant items from its world-renowned collections, including: early colonial maps denoting Indian communities in the region; rare books and manuscripts related to indigenous cultures from the early colonial period to the present; and a variety of drawings and painting depicting various aspect of Indian life in the Midwest.

Opening November 2 and running through December 31, the exhibition will include computer stations on which the public can access the new website and demonstrations of how to best use the site by the lead scholar on the project, professor of anthropology Dr. Loretta Fowler.

As a collection of general Americana, the Newberry Library’s Edward E. Ayer Collection is one of the best in the country and in the words of a former Yale University Library Curator, Ayer is “perhaps the finest gathering of materials on American Indians in the world.”