Opening to the public on September 19, 2015, Native Voices: New England Tribal Families is an introduction to native communities around New England today. By visiting five different communities from northern to southern New England, visitors learn how Native American families balance contemporary life with preservation of important cultural traditions.
Created by Boston Children’s Museum and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), this exhibit represents a unique collaboration between native advisors and the Museum’s exhibit design team. It builds on 60 years of collaboration with native tribes in New England. The hands-on activities, compelling immersive environments, and evocative artifacts both old and new provide a great way to learn how all cultures transmit important values from one generation to the next.
Native Voices: New England Tribal Families takes visitors through four New England seasons and shares stories, songs, and cultural materials that illustrate strong and enduring connections between tribes and their traditional homelands. Through a series of environments and activities, visitors meet members of the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot of Maine, the Narragansett of Rhode Island, and the Aquinnah Wampanoag and Mashpee Wampanoag of Massachusetts. Families can toboggan down a hill in Maine with young members of the Penobscot tribe, practice beading in an artist's studio on Cape Cod, meet students in a classroom at the Nuweetooun Tribal School in Rhode Island, explore a cranberry bog and the Aquinnah Tribal Museum on Martha's Vineyard, and follow Michael’s journey to Pow Wows across the United States and Canada. Taking them far beyond the usual tales of the "people who met the Pilgrims," this hands-on exploration introduces five thriving New England communities as they work to balance cultural traditions with life in a modern world.
“Native Voices represents the best we have to offer as it brings together the Museum’s world class collections, our outstanding exhibit design and production team, and our renowned education programs in a groundbreaking exhibit that showcases the rich history and culture of New England’s native communities,” said Carole Charnow, President & CEO, Boston Children’s Museum.
Part of the Museum’s stunning collection of cultural materials from New England tribes are highlighted in the exhibition. The Museum’s extensive permanent collection of 50,000 objects includes 3,500 items representing Native American communities, much of it purchased from contemporary native artists dating back to the 1920s. The dynamic contrast between old and new – traditional beading on deer skin compared with an elaborately beaded pair of Keds sneakers is part of the charm of this exhibition.
“The NEH is proud to support this outstanding exhibition,” said Karen Mittelman, director of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Division of Public Programs. “Native Voices invites children and families to explore the history and culture of diverse native communities, while also appreciating the tension between native traditions and modern life. At a time when cross-cultural understanding is urgently needed, exhibitions like these, that take us deeply into ways of knowing and living in the world different from our own, serve a vital public purpose.”
Native Voices: New England Tribal Families builds on Museum’s extensive experience in creating popular, interactive and educational exhibitions for children and families. The Museum enhances exhibits through vibrant public programs and rich educational resources, all designed to reinforce messages and inspire in visitors a life-long love of learning and desires to explore more. Throughout the run of the exhibit, Boston Children’s Museum will complement the exhibit with Native American performances and school programs.
"As a Narragansett woman, mother, and leader I believe it is extremely important to educate the public regarding our history, culture, arts and sciences that tell our story over time of where we have been, who we are, and how we will prepare our children for the future," said Lorén Spears, Native Voices Advisory Board, Narragansett, Executive Director of the Tomaquag Museum.
Native Voices: New England Tribal Families l opens at Boston Children’s Museum beginning September 19. All exhibit text is bi-lingual Spanish and English.
For a complete calendar listing, please visit www.BostonChildrensMuseum.org.