Tag Archives: Native American

The Speck Connection: Recovering Histories of Indigenous Objects

Frank Speck in his office in College Hall, University of Pennsylvania, c. 1930.

Frank Gouldsmith Speck (1881–1950), acknowledged as one of the most prolific anthropologists of the early 20th century, served as chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania for nearly four decades (1913–1949). He conducted ground-breaking ethnographic research, working closely with Indigenous informants from a wide range of communities (Cherokee, Haudenosaunee, Mohegan, Nanticoke, […]

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Iñupiaq Smoking and Siberian Reindeer

"Portrait of Su-Ku-Uk in Native Dress and Holding Pipe MAR 1894." William Dinwiddle, Glass Negatives of Indians, collected by the Bureau of American Ethnology. BAE GN 03099A 06510000, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

This semester, my students in Museum Anthropology conducted close examinations of objects from Arctic locales in the collections of the Penn Museum. During our object analysis of this walrus tusk ivory Iñupiaq pipe (item# 39-10-1) in the Collections Study Room, I was intrigued by the idea that it was used for smoking opium, given the absurdly small hole in […]

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Iñupiaq Pipe

Examining the Eskimo (Iñupiaq) pipe. Photo by Margaret Bruchac with permission of the Penn Museum.

Searching for Stories: Patiently Listening to an Iñupiaq Pipe Object Analysis and Report for Anthropology of Museums by Sarah Parkinson As a student intern in the American Section of the Penn Museum, part of my job involves inventorying accessioned objects. When I first started, I was curious about every object I handled. During the first few days, […]

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A Light Gone Out

Billy Frank Jr., Nisqually Tribe (1930-2014).

Indian Country lost a legend this month with the passing of Billy Frank Jr. (1930-2014).  Arrested for fishing on more than 50 occasions during his life time, Frank stood firmly for Civil Rights.  A man with clear vision and staunch determination, Frank walked with humility, strength and extraordinary kindness. During the “fish wars” of the […]

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Seeing with A Haida Master – Robert Davidson

A 100 year old raven rattle in the collection really got his attention. Collection Object Number: NA3367A

We recently spent the day with renowned Haida artist, Robert Davidson, looking at old Haida carvings in Penn Museum’s collection.  Having flown across the country from Haida Gwaii, British Colombia (Canada!), Robert and his wife Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson (a Haida attorney) arrived with their own photographer, Jack Litrell.  Their goal was to interview and record Mr. […]

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“When the Sap Starts Running in the Spring, the Blood Starts Running in Our Men”

Oren Lyons at the Penn Museum in April 2014.

Probably one of the fastest growing games in the world, it seems that everyone wants to play lacrosse. The Iroquois Confederacy or Haudenosaunee will field a team at the World Outdoor Championship Games to be played this summer in Denver (July 9-19). In 2015 they will host 16-18 countries competing in the Indoor Box Lacrosse […]

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Onondaga Nation and Swedish Engineers Join Hands on Global Food Production

Oren Lyons at Penn Museum, April 16, 2014

Native American economic initiatives are influencing our world today…here is a terrific example! A new economic initiative in Indian Country that moves beyond the sale of tobacco and casinos is Plantagon, an innovative international partnership with Native American principles at its core. We heard about it from Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation (in […]

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Archives Photo of the Week: Baby


I’ve recently returned back to the museum after having taken some time off for paternity leave (thanks to Tom Stanley for covering for me while I was gone). I’m back, but my baby is still on my mind. In honor of him, this week’s photo is of a Umatilla baby. The Umatilla people inhabited around […]

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Navajo Rug [Object of the Day #61]

Navajo Rug

This rug is an example of the beautiful geometric design, colors and skill of the Navajo weaver. Rugs and blankets like these have been prized by Europeans for many decades, especially in the late 1880’s. The market created by Europeans has helped sustain artisans as well as introduced new materials and techniques to their traditions. […]

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Clovis Projectile Point [Object of the Day #54]


Above, is an image of a Clovis Projectile Point, a type of arrowhead found commonly in the United States Southwest. The name Clovis comes from Clovis, New Mexico, where these projectile points were first discovered buried amid extinct bison bones. The Clovis Projectile Point is characterized by it’s chipping. The maker would overlap flaking by […]

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  • Penn Museum

Beneath the Surface at the Penn Museum