Native American Museums

Thanksgiving is not only a time for gratitude for the abundance of the harvest, but it’s also a time for honoring the many ways Native Americans shared crops and knowledge with European colonists. North Carolina witnessed two such exchanges in the sixteenth-century with Spanish explorers at Fort San Juan, near Morganton, and British settlers at Roanoke Island. In both cases, European groups initially learned from and exchanged with local tribes, before their ultimate devastation or mysterious disappearance. The image on the left represents the type of house Spanish explorers built at Fort San Juan. Based on archaeological investigations, this form exhibits Native American construction influences.

Native American communities proudly persist in North Carolina, and representatives from many of the state’s 8 recognized tribes participated in the Museum of History’s 17th annual American Indian Heritage Celebration this past weekend. (To learn more about each tribe, click here.)

A variety of cultural heritage collections across the state focus on Native American artifacts, honoring the prehistoric past as well as the ways communities have evolved over time. The Town Creek Indian Mound State Historic Site interprets Pee Dee Culture (1000-1400) through archaeological research. Both the Frisco Native American Museum on the Outer Banks and the  Harnett County Indian Museum exhibit artifacts from the local area as well as those from across the continent to showcase the vibrancy of Native American handiwork.

Several institutions preserve the heritage and culture of the Cherokee, the only North Carolina tribe with full federal recognition, and present it to the public. The Museum of the Cherokee Indian and Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual complement the living history presentations of the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee. The Junaluska Memorial & Museum in Robbinsville also interprets the tribe’s history.

The Lumbee Community from Union Chapel, c. 1900, collection of the Museum of the Native American Resource Center

The Lumbee Tribe is the most populous Native American group in the state and has achieved partial federal recognition. The Lumbee Indian Museum in Laurinburg and the Museum of the Native American Resource Center at UNC Pembroke focus on this group.

How does your institution present Native American history? By preserving artifacts, presenting them through exhibits, or by developing public programs?


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This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on November 20, 2012, in archaeology, historic sites, museums, public programs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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