For Potawatomi making visits to the nation’s capital, the National Museum of the American Indian, located right in the middle of the National Mall, is a popular destination. What many Potawatomi visitors may not realize is a piece of Tribal history is on open display in the museum’s “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations” exhibit.
From March-August 2016, the 1836 U.S.-Potawatomi Treaty will be on display, while in August 2017, an 1806 treaty between the Potawatomi Nations and U.S. Government will be shown. Both the Citizen Potawatomi of Oklahoma, formerly Indiana, and the Pokagan Potawatomi of Michigan are featured in the exhibition’s case study.
37 tribes from across the U.S. and their relations with the federal government are presented in the expansive exhibition. Each treaty represents diplomatic agreements between the United States and Native Nations that remain in force to this day. It offers visitors the hidden stories of the United States and American Indian Nations diplomacy, the history of how the states were ultimately drawn and how promises were kept and broken and renewed with Native nations.
“The history of U.S.-Indian treaties is the history of all Americans,” said Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “We cannot have a complete understanding of what it means to be Americans without knowing about these relationships, whether we are Native Americans or not.”
The exhibition, in development for 10 years, offers visitors the hidden stories of the United States and American Indian Nations diplomacy, the history of how the states were ultimately drawn and how promises were kept and broken and renewed with Native Nations. Guest curated by Suzan Shown Harjo, the story is woven through five sections, “Introduction to Treaties,” “Serious Diplomacy,” “Bad Acts, Bad Paper;” “Great Nations Keep Their Word,” and “The Future of Treaties.”
The exhibition also features three original media productions narrated by Robert Redford. “Nation to Nation,” a four-minute video that will introduce the main themes of the exhibition, “Indian Problem,” a 10-minute video that shows the cultural side of the shift in power relations between Native nations and the U.S. government and “Sovereign Rights,” a fourminute video that covers the topic of termination of tribes. “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations” will be open through fall 2018 in the museum’s fourthlevel gallery. For more details and to read the actual treaties featured in the exhibition, visit www. AmericanIndian.si.edu.