Inside NMAI: Down the Inka Road

The exhibition is open. The book is published. Does that mean the work is complete? Sometimes. But in the case of large projects that encompass more than an exhibition gallery, the work often continues long past the opening date. For the Inka Road project, the exhibition The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire is but one component of a project at least a decade in its duration.

The Road to Kingsbridge: Daniel Nimham and the Stockbridge Indian Company in the American Revolution

The Redcoats took their revenge in a well-planned bloody ambush. Their targets were soldiers of the Stockbridge Mohican community, British allies in previous wars but now effective raiders for George Washington’s Continental Army, in a standoff just north of New York City. By the end of the intense fighting on Aug. 31, 1778, the Stockbridge Indian Company had taken heavy casualties. Its leaders, the sachem Daniel Nimham and his son Abraham, were dead. The Indian refugees in the praying town of Stockbridge, Mass., were so weakened that within a generation they were forced on their long trek west. What became known as the Battle of Kingsbridge was more than an episode in the American Revolution; it was a turning point in the struggle of the Hudson River Indians to preserve their rights amidst a flood of European settlement.

Herbert Dickey in the Devil’s Paradise

"I haven’t had an adventure and don’t expect to have,” Dr. Herbert Spencer Dickey wrote in 1929 about his full-time career exploring the unknown interior of South America. He criticized many of the much-publicized Amazon expeditions of the early 1900s as “sport,” not science. On his own travels on the eastern side of the Andes, he made contact with an unknown tribe, witnessed a Jivaro head-shrinking ceremony and searched for the source of the Orinocco River, all the while minimizing “real danger.” Partly sponsored by Gorge Gustav Heye and the Museum of the American Indian, he brought back some of the finest items still on display at the NMAI.

Taíno Survival: Back into History

No exhibition has actually addressed the topic of the survival of Native peoples in the Caribbean after 1492. The Native peoples of the region, represented by the durable elements of their material culture, are contained in museums within the pre-colonial moment. To frame an exhibit that emphasizes the survival and contemporary vitality of these indigenous peoples and their legacy is an intimidating task. But such is the upcoming Taíno: Native Heritage and Identity in the Caribbean, now under preparation for the National Museum of the American Indian – Smithsonian in New York City.

Marking the 400th Anniversary of Pocahontas’ Death

Of Pocahontas’ Death March 21, 2017, was the 400th anniversary of Pocahontas’s death. She was about 22 years old when she died, and both her life and death were commemorated this past spring in London.[1] One key event – a three-day conference titled Pocahontas and after: Historical culture and transatlantic encounters, 1617–2017 – was organized by the University of London School of Advanced Studies’ Institute for Historical Research and the British Library, and took place March 16 through 18. Pocahontas spent the last nine months of her life in London and was known there as Lady Rebecca.