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Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

Betula nigra 'Cully' Heritage

Smithsonian Gardens

American Indian Heritage Teaching Resources

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
A catalog of web links to Smithsonian educational sites related to Native Americans.

The Heritage

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Main website for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage includes information on the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, educator resources, cultural policy, publications, and exhibitions.

Health, Hair, and Heritage

National Museum of African Art
The Sanaa Circle, a friends group of the National Museum of African Art, presented a panel discussion in support of the museum in the Smithsonian's Ripley Center Pavilion on Friday, June 7, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The panelists were experts from the fields of beauty, art, culture and history who discussed contemporary hair, health and beauty in reference to the heritage and history of Africa. The discussion was moderated by Diana N'Diaye, who is the principal investigator and curator of The Will to Adorn initiative at the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The project is one of the three themes of the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and it looks at identity and how it is reflected in African American dress. N'Diaye is also a jewelry and dress designer. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director of the National Museum of African Art, began the evening with opening remarks. A reception followed with hair models featuring images of contemporary beauty and styles by natural hair stylist and cosmetologist Camille Robbins-Reed. Panelists included: Dr. Monte Harris, a Sanaa committee member and internationally recognized plastic surgeon who lectures and leads discussions on the role of hair in an individual's perceptions of beauty and identity. As the leader of the Center for Aesthetic Modernism and Do Good H.A.I.R. Project, Harris provides comprehensive health guidance for women seeking to achieve personal beauty that aligns with their ancestral heritage. Karen Milbourne has been a curator at the National Museum of African Art since May 2008. Her expertise includes the arts and pageantry of western Zambia and contemporary African art. Since joining the museum, she has curated the exhibitions "Artists in Dialogue: António Ole and Aimé Mpane" (2009) and "Artists in Dialogue 2: Sandile Zulu and Henrique Oliveira" (2011). She also served as coordinating curator for the exhibitions "Yinka Shonibare MBE" (2010) and "Central Nigeria Unmasked" (2011). Gina Paige is president and co-founder of Africanancestry.com, the nation's leading genetics-based people ancestry-tracing company, sparking global interest, dialogue and focus on the importance of people knowing who they are. Sponsors Support for "Hair, Health, and Heritage" comes from BET networks, Kamal Ali at Ben's Chili Bowl, Anacostia Art Gallery, Larry Atkins, Beverley Burke, J.R. Clark of Squire Saunders, Donnette Cooper, Audra Cunningham, Thomas Dawson, Do Good H.A.I.R. Project, Monte Harris, Barbara Johnson, Leftwich & Ludaway, Lucia Riddle, Squire Saunders and Ben Soto & Premium Title LLC. About the Sanaa Circle The Sanaa Circle started in 2009 to support and enhance the learning and outreach programs offered to the community by the National Museum of African Art. It has focused on providing financial support and building a full community of supporters for the museum to further the mission of the museum. Sanaa plays a fundamental role in connecting the museum to the greater Washington, D.C., community. The support of the women and men of Sanaa helps the museum to achieve its current programming while laying the foundation for ambitious future goals and increasing membership for the museum.

Mexico - History and Heritage

Smithsonian Magazine

Culturally speaking, Mexico seems like a convoluted quilt of languages, dialects and customs. In addition to the best-know groups—the Mayans and the Aztecs, for example—dozens of ethnic groups have over the centuries contributed to the complex fabric of which Mexico is made. As trading partners, allies, and mortal enemies, they have engaged one another on the battlefield and in the market place, exchanging ideas and traditions.  

Evidence of the Olmecs, Mexico’s “mother culture”, has been found both on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, but none of their settlements can be visited in situ. Precursor to the Mayans, the Olmec civilization reached its apogee a thousand years before the Christian era.

They built extensive cities and the structures that preceded the modern pyramid (more accurately called a temple mound). Evidence of these citadels include basalt stone “portrait” sculptures weighing many tons, public buildings, and hieroglyphics-inscribed steles. Ritual objects such as jade jaguar figurines were widely traded and have been found as far north as the Valley of Mexico and south into Central America. Several area museums display artifacts from the Olmec culture. The Parque Museo La Venta shows off, to good advantage, stone thrones, 8- and 9-ton colossal heads (thought to be “portraits” of ancient leaders), jade figurines and an unusual jaguar mask mosaic. Many other priceless artifacts are found at the Museo regional de Antropologia Carlos Pellicer Camara. Both are found in Villahermosa, the business oriented capital of the state of Tabasco.

As the Roman Empire declined and fell, Mesoamerica was entering its Golden Age of enlightenment. The Mayans and the Zapotecs developed written scripts with which to record spoken language. Priests accurately predicted solar eclipses and the appearance of comets; tradesmen specialized in carving, pottery-making and other crafts. Architects built great cities and impressive monuments to the gods at Monte Alban, Teotihuacan, El Tajin, Xochicalco and Cholula.

Although the Purepecha (also called Tarascans) of Michoacán built some large religious structures, many other important groups left no monumental cities or inscribed stones; their histories are pieced together through less grandiose physical evidence and early Spanish reports. Yet their contributions enrich the tapestry. West coast cultures built utilitarian and decorative items of clay; many for the artifacts purchased today in Tlaquepaque or Colima are variations on ancient designs. Along with the Purepecha, the Mixtecs of Oaxaca were among the few Mesoamerican cultures to understand and use metallurgy.  

The formidable Aztecs, the best known of Mexico’s many indigenous cultures, were descendants of the less developed Chichimec, of the northern deserts. Migrating to the Valley of Mexico in the 13th century, the Aztecs rose to power and prominence after just a few centuries. They build impressive pyramids to the rain god, Tlaloc, and to Huitzilopochtli, the terrifying god of war. To placate these deities and many others, they regularly sacrificed captive soldiers and unfortunate folk from the lower rungs of society.

The Aztec’s island capital Tenochtitlan amazed the Spaniards with its beauty and ingenuity when they arrived in 1519. Connected to the shores of Lake Texcoco via four causeways and surrounded by floating gardens called chinampas, this kingdom dazzled with its brightly painted palaces, richly dressed lords and ladies and bustling marketplaces full of exotic goods.

At the time of the Spanish invasion, the Aztec nation controlled more than 350 cities and had a standing army of some 150,000 men. Only alliances with some of the Aztecs’ disgruntled subject-states facilitated Hernan Cortes’ surprisingly triumph over this formidable and bellicose nation with an army of just a few hundred men.

Under the Spanish colonialism, many ethnic groups were assimilated and gradually adopted Catholicism, and European law and social structures. Others fled to the realm’s least hospitable places. Isolated for centuries in the Sierra Madre Occidental, for example, the Huichol even today hold on to many of their ancient rites. Other groups like the Otomi of central Mexico and the Tarahumara of the Copper Canyon have blended their own rituals with those introduced by Spain.

Today nearly seven percent of the Mexican population speaks a native language or dialect. While that number is dwindling as communities join the mainstream, many young people still speak the ancient tongues, and their parents employ herbs and perform rituals passed down over generations.

Massachusetts - History and Heritage

Smithsonian Magazine

Some ten native tribes inhabited the area now called Massachusetts prior to European settlement. The Massachusett, an Algonquin speaking tribe, lived along the coast near present-day Boston and gave the Commonwealth its name. But following the arrival of the British in the early 17th century, massive numbers of the Massachusett and other coastal tribes succumbed to small pox.

Religion defined the early years of the New England colonies. The first settlers to arrive were British Pilgrims, who had split from the Church of England, seeking a refuge where they could worship and govern according to their own principles. Assisted by the Wampanoags, they established a stable settlement, and in 1621, celebrated surviving their first year in a feast of Thanksgiving.

The Puritans, also reformist Christians from England, arrived eight years later and established their own settlement, the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which soon dominated the region. Between 1629 and 1643, some 21,000 Puritans immigrated to New England, along with many thousands of non-Puritans. Intolerant of other religious ideas, the Puritans oppressed those with different views. These dissenters left or were forced to leave the Massachusetts Bay Colony and settle new colonies along the East Coast.

By the end of the 17th century, Puritan power had diminished, and in 1692, Massachusetts became a single unified colony, governed and taxed by Britain. Those taxes rankled Massachusetts residents. Discontent swelled with the years. In 1773, that discontent found action when a group of men calling themselves the Sons of Liberty boarded a merchant ship and dumped into Boston harbor its cargo of taxed tea from the East India Tea Company—the Boston Tea Party. Less than two years later, the Revolution began in earnest.

Following the revolution, Massachusetts continued its role of influence in the new republic. The Constitution of the Commonwealth, drafted by John Adams and adopted in 1780, is the oldest written constitution in continuous effect in the world. The Commonwealth was the first U.S. state to call for the abolition of slavery. And in the 1800s, the state’s textile mills transformed the economy of the northeast with rapid industrialization.

Today, Massachusetts is a center of higher education, bio and computer technology, and banking. But its history is ever-present and ready for discovery throughout the state. Visitors can experience this heritage anywhere they happen to venture, whether shore or mountain, small village or city. Walk across the green in Lexington and imagine those first shots. Visit Plymouth and recall the landing of some of the country’s first European settlers. The towns of Nantucket and New Bedford still evoke their whaling past. And the Mohawk Trail follows the footsteps of the area’s original inhabitants.

Pennsylvania - History and Heritage

Smithsonian Magazine

King Charles II of England granted aristocrat William Penn the land that would become Pennsylvania in 1681, as payment for a debt the king owed Penn’s father. Penn, a member of the Society of Friends—better known as the Quakers—used the land to create a colony where the persecuted group could worship freely. Over the next century, the colony grew quickly, and by the 1770s its major city, Philadelphia, was the economic and political center of the colonies.

Nicknamed "The Keystone State," Pennsylvania played a vital role in the American Revolution. It was in Pennsylvania’s State House, now known as Independence Hall, that the Continental Congress met, the Declaration of Independence was adopted, George Washington was appointed commander in chief of the Continental Army, the Founding Fathers agreed on a design for the American flag, and the Constitution was drafted. Independence Hall, restored to its late-18th century appearance, is part of the Independence National Historic Park and open for tours.

Independence National Historical Park covers 20 city blocks in Philadelphia. In addition to Independence Hall and other historic buildings, the park includes Franklin Court, where Benjamin Franklin’s home once stood. The house was torn down 20 years after Franklin died there in 1790, but today a steel frame "ghost structure" marks the place where it was. An underground museum has exhibits about Franklin’s life and times, as well as artifacts from an archeological excavation.

America almost lost the Revolutionary War, and the situation appeared dire when George Washington’s army camped at Valley Forge, outside Philadelphia, in the winter of 1777-78. The site where the Continental Army starved, shivered and suffered—but persevered—is now Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Another important site in the nation’s military history is Gettysburg National Military Park, where 51,000 Americans died and where Abraham Lincoln gave his famous speech. Exhibits at the Visitors’ Center explain the battle and life during the war, while a new museum is under construction and slated to open in 2008.

Kansas - History and Heritage

Smithsonian Magazine

As the United States continues to be a melting pot for cultures around the world, Kansas is home to Native Americans, European immigrants and a diverse array of many other cultural heritages in the Mid-West. This unique cultural blend offers a plethora of arts, shopping, dining and historic sightseeing experiences across the big and small towns of Kansas.

The People of the South Wind—the Kanza Indians—once inhabited the region now called Kansas. By 1846 thousands of American Indians representing 30 tribes had been forcibly resettled in Kansas. As western expansion pushed farther west in the latter half of the 19th century, many Indian nations were again forced to resettle, this time to Indian Territory, Oklahoma. However, four nations of the Iowa, Sac and Fox, Kickapoo, and Potawatomi refused to give up their reserves in the eastern half of Kansas and remain in the state today.

Through interactive exhibits, American Indians tell stories in their own words. Museums include quillwork, baskets, and other artwork of present day descendants of emigrant tribes. The Kaw Mission in Council Grove and the Shawnee Indian Methodist Mission in Fairway are also state historic sites. But some of the most exciting American Indian events are the colorful powwows. The Mid-America All-Indian Center Annual Intertribal Powwow in Wichita draws thousands of American Indian participants from across the nation. Every three years, Medicine Lodge hosts the Peace Treaty Pageant and Celebration to commemorate the 1867 treaty between the five Plains Tribes and the U.S. government. Along with re-enactments, the weekend also includes an Indian Heritage Village featuring ceremonials and handmade crafts. Powwows are also held in Topeka, Lawrence, and Mayetta.

After the Civil War, large numbers of European immigrants settled in Kansas, the largest being the Germans and Mennonites. The German heritage can be seen in the magnificent churches they built including St. Fidelis, known as the "Cathedral of the Plains" in Victoria, and St. Mary’s in St. Benedict. The Mennonites were key in the development of Kansas, introducing Turkey red hard winter wheat, which led to the state becoming one of the leading wheat producers in the nation. The Mennonite Heritage Museum in Goessel and the Kauffman Museum in North Newton are devoted to Mennonite history.

Wilson
Wilson is known as the Czech Capital of Kansas because of the people that settled there. In 1868 the Union Pacific Railroad established the Wilson station. Six years later, Wilson became the home of the Czech Bohemians. Occasionally, one can meet citizens of Wilson who still know the native tongue.

Lindsborg
Nestled in the Smoky Valley region of north central Kansas, the community of Lindsborg was settled in 1869 by nearly one hundred Swedish immigrant pioneers. They initially emigrated from Sunnemo and the surrounding parishes of Värmland Province in Sweden. With much anticipation, the first Lindsborg Swedes came to America, framtidslandet, their land of the future. A strict adherence to the Lutheran faith and an abiding love of music were at the center of their existence, although many of them in the early days were farmers. Many other of the Lindsborg founders were craftsmen, educators, musicians and people of many talents. Their passion for things cultural extends into the present day and is evidenced by the large percentage of fine artists, well-educated people and musicians who reside in Lindsborg, a community of approximately 3,200 individuals. Today, visitors can experience a special blend of history and culture in Lindsborg. Old World charm springs from rich Swedish heritage. Known as Little Sweden USA, Lindsborg has art galleries and studios, unique shopping and world-class chamber music—making it a special blend of history and culture set in the middle of Kansas wheat country.

The African American heritage in the state of Kansas began before the Civil War and lives on today in many historic attractions and museums. Visitors can tour the places where the course of history was changed and learn about the people who changed it. In the mid-1800s, the Adair family helped famed abolitionist John Brown hide escaped slaves traveling the Underground Railroad. The Adair cabin near Osawatomie still stands and serves as the John Brown Museum State Historic Site. Lawrence also has several Underground Railroad sites in the city, including Fire Station No. 4, which was once Joel Grover’s stone barn used to organize small groups of runaway slaves for their next move further west.

Nicodemus
After the Civil War, freed slaves established all-black communities around the country. Nicodemus, established in 1877, is the only remaining all-black town west of the Mississippi River and is now a National Historic Site. Nicodemus’ Township Hall serves as the visitor’s center, where people can learn more about this historic site. The Nicodemus Emancipation Celebration each July includes Buffalo Soldier re-enactors and African American cuisine and entertainment.

Mississippi - History and Heritage

Smithsonian Magazine

Long before recorded history, Mississippi's natural bounty of rivers teeming with fish, woodlands full of game, nuts, and berries, and coastal lands rich with shellfish attracted waves of settlers, the ancestors of the southeastern tribes we know today.

These peoples began cultivating the land about 2,000 years ago, planting corn, beans, squash and tobacco. The various tribes were much alike in their religious beliefs, which centered on a powerful unseen god or great spirit. The Natchez Indians particularly venerated the sun. Because the southeastern Indians did not develop written language as we know it—though they did use pictographs to record events—these traditions were passed down from the elders to the younger members of the tribe. In Choctaw, Mississippi means "father of waters," and refers, of course, to the mighty river that flows from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico and forms Mississippi's western border.

Probably the first white men to enter the interior of the territory were Spanish explorers led by Hernando de Soto, who wandered across the present state in search of gold in 1540 and 1541. The Spaniards found that the land was densely populated with Indians, and they suffered a serious attack from at least one Mississippi tribe, the Chickasaws.

When the second wave of Europeans arrived in the 1700s, some 15 tribes lived in the area now called Mississippi. The most populous were the Choctaw in the east central part of the state with a population of about 20,000, the Chickasaw, who lived in the north and numbered about 5,000, and the 5,000-strong Natchez, of the lower Mississippi.

Image by Courtesy of the Mississippi Development Authority/Division of Tourism. Dawn breaks over Sardis Lake. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of the Mississippi Development Authority/Division of Tourism. With some 16 tribes, Mississippi has one of the biggest and most varied Indian populations in the southeastern U.S. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of the Mississippi Development Authority/Division of Tourism. Mississippi hosts a hot air balloon championships and festivals throughout the state from May through October. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of the Mississippi Development Authority/Division of Tourism. Built in 1848, the Biloxi Lighthouse is reportedly the first cast metal lighthouse in the South. It withstood Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Mississippi coastline in 2005. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of the Mississippi Development Authority/Division of Tourism. Mississippi has more than a hundred miles of coastline. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of the Mississippi Development Authority/Division of Tourism. The simple and expressive form of the Mississippi Delta blues has played a major influence on the development of modern blues-rock in the U.S. The genre originated in the early 20th century among African Americans. (original image)

The Europeans' arrival devastated many native communities. The Natchez were nearly exterminated by the French, as were the Yazoo. Other groups fared better, at least until the 1800s when treaties both honorable and fraudulent transferred land rights away from the tribes, sending many Mississippi natives to Indian territory in Oklahoma. But the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, descendants of Choctaws who refused to leave their homeland, still live near Philadelphia, Mississippi, not far from Nanih Waiya, a celebrated Indian mound thought by many Choctaw Indians to be the "mother mound" of their creation legend.

During the Civil War, Union and Confederate soldiers fought some of their fiercest battles in Mississippi. Indeed, sites that played significant roles in the conflict can be found in every quarter of the state.

Later, during the civil rights movement, Mississippi again took center stage. Murders of African Americans by the Ku Klux Klan and others, as well as the integration of the University of Mississippi by James Meredith, garnered national attention that eventually helped bring about the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Throughout Mississippi's dramatic history, the state has turned out an incredible amount of artistic talent. Mississippi is the birthplace of the blues, and of many of the genre's greatest stars, as well as countless other musicians and writers. Among the most notable are writers William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, Walker Percy and Tennessee Williams, and musicians Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson, B.B. King and Elvis. And that's only a tiny fraction of the roster.

Mississippi today is a state with profound respect for its own history and its role in the evolution of the United States. The constant flow of the mighty Mississippi and the lushness of the landscape nurture memories both ancient and recent, and invite visitors to discover Mississippi past and present.

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