New Native American emphasis at Field Museum

Newly introduced at the Field Museum in Chicago is a new permanent exhibition: Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories. It was created in partnership with Native American artists, storytellers and collaborators.

Over four years in the making, Native Truths was created with the guidance of an advisory council of 11 Native American scholars and museum professionals, and in partnership with 130 collaborators representing over 105 Tribes.

In the exhibit are stories told by Indigenous people of self-determination, resilience, continuity and the future. Accompanying their stories are historic and contemporary beadworks, ceramics, murals, music, dance and more.

The photo with this posting is of the Great Bear Hunt Mat made by Karen Ann Hoffman of the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin. She uses velvet, glass beads, Czechoslovakian crystals, cotton thread and calico to depict a very old tradition written in the stars, the Great Bear Hunt.

Stories also are supported by contemporary art, poetry, photography, and historical objects from the Museum’s collections. With a special section devoted to the Native community in Chicago, other galleries within the exhibition will rotate over the years, giving space for new stories from Native Americans across the United States and Canada.

Visitors will have the opportunity to get a close-up look at California basketry traditions passed on across generations, experience music-making through the eyes of a young Lakota hip hop artist, follow the process of Meskwaki efforts to revitalize heirloom and ancestral plants, delve into the history and importance of Chaco Canyon, and visit the Pawnee Earth Lodge in a new context.

“I feel really privileged to have worked with such talented curators and developers at the Field over the past four years and to add my voice to the wise and caring Indigenous advisors on this project,” says Patty Loew, PhD, a member of the advisory committee who is of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe in Wisconsin. Loew is the director for the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research and a professor in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. 

“I think visitors will really get a true sense of Native truths when they experience this new exhibit,” Loew added.