Penn Museum exhibit challenges misperceptions of Native Americans

The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape people are an active tribe from southern New Jersey, where they hold state recognition. Visitors hear stories of their challenges and successes as they preserve their culture in "Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now." Credit: Lucy Fowler Williams
The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape people are an active tribe from southern New Jersey, where they hold state recognition. Visitors hear stories of their challenges and successes as they preserve their culture in “Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now.”
Credit: Lucy Fowler Williams

A placard at the front of Penn Museum’s new exhibition, “Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now,” poses the question, “What does it mean to be Native American?” The case above seems to answer that question in a very traditional, even stereotypical way: It contains an eagle feather war bonnet — a headdress straight out of every Hollywood western you’ve ever seen.

But step inside and you’ll discover a much more diverse view of who Native Americans are and were. The exhibition includes traditional artifacts alongside contemporary artworks, providing a far-reaching and stunningly varied look at the distinctive cultures of Native American people across multiple generations.

“As our title suggests, the goal of this exhibition is to transform your understanding of Native America today,” explained curator Lucy Fowler Williams at a preview of the exhibition last week. “We do so by focusing on Native American agency and activism through the work and voices of some of today’s most influential and visionary leaders across the country, and we do this against the backdrop of 300 remarkable objects in Penn Museum’s expansive Native American collection.”

Those objects range from tomahawks and buffalo robes to mixed-media installation pieces and lacrosse equipment. Items separated by thousands of years sit side-by-side in the display cases, offering an expanded perspective on the show’s four main themes: the local Lenape nations, the original inhabitants of the Delaware valley; the importance of land and sacred places for Native people today; celebrations and commemorations; and new initiatives in Native American health, economics and education. The objects are accompanied by interactive digital touchscreens with information and context for the items, all situated around a virtual campfire in the center of the room.

“I love that the history and the current situation and the art of the past and the present are all blended together,” said Tina Pierce Fragoso, coordinator of Native American recruitment at the University of Pennsylvania. A member of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribe of Bridgeton, N.J., Fragoso was one of the exhibition’s four main content advisors.

“I hope this exhibition helps people recognize that Native Americans are here every day,” Fragoso says. “They’re sitting beside you in your classrooms, they work in your office. I want this to change your perception of what you think a Native American is and invite you in to see our communities today.”

Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now
Now open
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
$10-$15, 215-898-4000
www.penn.museum



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Turkey: Voting begins in country's first direct presidential…

Some 53 million people are able to vote in the election, including 2.8 million citizens abroad. Until now, Turkish presidents were elected by parliament.

News

Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…

National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Television

'Game of Thrones' livens up Comic Con with…

By Piya Sinha-RoySAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Laughter and death did battle on Friday at HBO's "Game of Thrones" panel at Comic Con, one of the…

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.