Native American Voices Gallery Tour
Take a closer look at the Penn Museum’s North American collections and learn about Native American communities past and present. The tour covers six themes, from the enduring presence of local Native peoples to some of the oldest stone tools ever recovered in North America. Find out more about sacred places for Native peoples and their efforts to protect them, legislation that strives to ensure Native sovereignty and the return of cultural objects, how Native communities celebrate their cultural identities through practices such as lacrosse and powwows, and contemporary Native artists.
Native American Voices Gallery Tour Introduction
The Penn Museum’s North American collection has over 160,000 objects representing numerous Native American and First Nations Canadian communities past and present. These objects span thousands of years of history, from the late Paleolithic Ice Age to contemporary art installations, illustrating the long-standing presence of Native peoples in North America.
Local Nations: The Creation of Turtle Island
The Delaware Valley is the ancestral home of the Lenape people. While the colonization of North American by Europeans forced many Lenape communities west, several remained and still live in the area today. One way we can learn more about the Lenape people and their enduring cultural identities is through their creation story, which tells of Turtle Island.
Peopling the Past: The Clovis Points of Blackwater Draw
One way archaeologists have learned about the deep history and long presence of Native peoples in North America is through the study of stone tool artifacts, such as the Clovis points recovered from Blackwater Draw, New Mexico. Learning about the process of making stone tools can give us some insight into the everyday lifeways of past Native peoples.
Continuing Celebrations: Lacrosse and Powwows
Native communities continue to practice and celebrate long-held traditions that strengthen and renew their cultural identities. The game of lacrosse and powwow celebrations are two important examples of how Native peoples connect to their past and celebrate their heritage today.
Sacred Places: Mounds, Mountains, and Materiality
Sacred places, such as built earthen mounds or natural landscapes, hold great and enduring meaning for many Native Americans. While many Native communities have lost access to these places and their ancestral lands, they continue to organize and fight for the right to access and protect their sacred places today.
New Initiatives: The Implementation of NAGPRA
NAGPRA provides a legal mechanism for the 574 federally recognized tribes of the U.S., Alaskan Native Villages, and Native Hawaiian organizations to make claims for human remains, associated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony held by American museums and agencies that receive federal funding.
Contemporary Native American Art
Contemporary Native American artworks are forceful expressions of Native identity and perseverance. They challenge stereotypes of extinction and address issues that are important to Native Americans today.