Issues Background
Vol. 21 No. 1
Spring 2020
Cover of NMAI Magazine Spring 2020

On the Cover

In this black ash strawberry basket by artist Kelly Church (Odawa/Pottawatomi), the black ash and sweetgrass blossoms and miniature strawberries hanging from the blossom vines represent the future generations. The doll on top is the “grandmother,” who watches over those to come. Tribes throughout the Great Lakes and Northeast give strawberry baskets in ceremonies to honor life events, such as births, and during the time of “our strawberry moon,” says Church. She is among the artists speaking at the Thoughts of Our People from “Hearts of Our People” symposium at NMAI on March 28.

“Grandmother Strawberry,” Kelly Church, 2016; 17" x 14"; black ash, Rit dye, sweetgrass, velvet, buckskin, seed beads, thread, artificial hair, wire and cotton stuffing.


The invasive emerald ash borer
Many American Indian and First Nation basket makers rely upon black ash trees. However, the emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees. A band of Native women basket makers are fighting to protect remaining black ash trees, and a unique Smithsonian partnership could help them keep their heritage alive.
Tuluwat island
The Wiyot people of Northern California have regained possession of their sacred island of Tuluwat, enabling them to once again hold their spring World Renewal Ceremony on the land where it was interrupted by a massacre more than a century earlier.
Christi Belcourt (Michif), “The Wisdom of the Universe,” 2014; acrylic on canvas, 67.5" x 111";
Women produce the majority of Native art, and they are finally getting recognition by name in a major exhibition. “Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists” is now on view at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.
teacher leaning over children in classroom
Washington state has rewritten its school curriculum to include the history of the Indian tribes so prominent in its landscape by drawing on the growing resources of Native Knowledge 360˚, NMAI’s national educational initiative.
Performance from Here Me Say My Name
A visit to the museum on the National Mall turns into an intense encounter with Native identity, thanks to a new interactive play presented by the NMAI and the Smithsonian Associates’ Discovery Theater.