The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is located on the National Mall in Washington, DC and showcases Native American objects from ancient pre-Columbian civilizations through the 21st century. The museum opened in 2004 and is one of the most architecturally interesting structures in the area. The 250,000 square foot building is clad in Kasota limestone from Minnesota, giving the building the appearance of a stratified stone mass that has been carved by wind and water.
In 2016, an advisory committee was formed to plan a National Native American Veterans Memorial to be built on the grounds of museum. The memorial will honor the immense contributions and patriotism of Native Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The National Museum of the American Indian uses multimedia presentations, live performances and hands-on demonstrations to bring the Native American people’s history and culture to life. Special programming includes films, performances of music and dance, tours, lectures, and craft demonstrations. Seasonal events are scheduled throughout the year.
4th St. and Independence Ave., SW. Washington, DC (202) 633-1000.
The closest Metro stations are L'Enfant Plaza, Smithsonian and Federal Triangle
See a map and directions to the National Mall
Museum Hours: 10 a. m. to 5:30 p. m. daily; closed Dec. 25.
The Lelawi Theater
A 120-seat circular theater located on the fourth level presents a 13-minute multimedia experience titled “Who We Are.” The film gives a great orientation for visitors and examines the diversity of Native peoples throughout the Americas.
- “Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World” - The exhibition, which is organized around one solar year, explores the annual ceremonies of Native peoples as windows into ancestral Native teachings. While under the exhibition’s star-filled “night sky,” visitors can discover how celestial bodies shape the daily lives of Native peoples, as well as establish calendars of ceremonies and celebrations.
- “Our Lives: Contemporary Life and Identities” - The exhibition examines the identities of Native peoples in the 21st century and how those identities, both individual and communal, are shaped by deliberate choices made in challenging circumstances. People are influenced by the world around them, their families and communities, the language they speak, the places they live and identify with and by customs and beliefs.
- imagiNATIONS Activity Center - The family-friendly space is geared to ages 12 and under and offers hands-on activities, interactive games, storytelling programs and craft workshops. Explore traditional Native dwellings, compete against family and friends in an interactive quiz show, experience different modes of indigenous transportation and sport, weave a giant basket and learn about basket-weaving’s history.
See Photos of the American Indian Museum
Dining at the National Museum of the American Indian
Dining at the Mitsitam Native Foods Café is a real treat. The cafe offers a menu that changes quarterly for each of the five geographic regions covering the entire Western Hemisphere: Northern Woodlands, South America, Northwest Coast, Meso America and Great Plains. The menus include items such as maple brined turkey with cranberry relish (Northern Woodlands), chicken tamale in a corn husk with peanut sauce (SouthAmerica), cedar planked fire-roasted juniper salmon platter (Northwest Coast), and yellow corn or soft flour tortilla tacos with carne (Meso America).
The Roanoke Museum Store is a great place to find unique gifts and offers a wide variety of crafts, books, music recordings, souvenirs and toys. Store merchandise includes items such as Navajo alabaster sculptures, Peruvian pottery, original Pendleton items (blankets and tote bags), Inuit sculptures, textile weavings made by the Mapuche of Chile and Zuni fetishes. The store also features Yup’ik ivory carvings from Alaska, Navajo rugs, Northwest Coast carvings and textiles, Lakota dolls, Cheyenne beaded necklaces, and silver and turquoise jewelry.
Official Website: http://www.nmai.si.edu