What Does It Mean To Be A Native New Yorker? A New Exhibit Has Arrived To Clarify

What Does It Mean To Be A Native New Yorker? A New Exhibit Has Arrived To Clarify

A new exhibit from the National Museum of the American Indian examines what it means to be a native New Yorker — as in, part of the Native population that pre-dated colonization. 

The Smithsonian’s museum at One Bowling Green opened a new exhibit called “Native New York” that asks that question. It takes visitors through 12 significant places in New York, from the shores of Long Island through Manhattan and up to Niagara Falls, using objects, media, interactive and narrative elements to demonstrate how the state has always been a Native place.

The exhibit will help clear up the inaccuracies and stereotyping that still plague Native American histories, while showing how those stories affect life for Native people today, said David Penney, the museum’s associate director for museum scholarship and exhibitions. 

Each of the 12 featured locations serves as a jumping-off point for a wide range of topics, including an Iroquois Nationals lacrosse game and the intricacies of 17th-century fur-trading. The locations are listed alongside their Native place names and meanings, so you can learn Where the Waters Meet (Poospatuck, a.k.a. Long Island), visit the Sharp Rock Place (Kapsee/Battery Park) and other sites in the Place for Gathering Wood to Make Bows (Manahatta/Manhattan). 

The exhibit meets New York state curriculum standards, and will offer virtual field trips led by staff cultural interpreters (the museum hopes to allow in-person field trips eventually). 

Visit the museum’s website for more information. 

photo: NMAI

Tags: nmai

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