A crowd of about 75, many representing various Native American tribes from throughout the region, gathered Tuesday at Dornick Hills Country Club for a preview of the latest Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian exhibit, set to premiere this fall.
Sponsored by Ardmore’s Sullivan Insurance Agency, Elaine Webster, assistant director for museum advancement at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, presented the seven-years-in-the-making exhibit that will “change what people know, and tell the real story.”
The “Nation to Nation: Treaties between the United States and the American Indian Nations” will open to the public on Sept. 21 at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., a day after the 10-year anniversary of the museum’s opening.
The exhibit will share about the influential Native diplomats and leaders of the Indian nations. The focus will be on the treaties and the relationship between the United States government and the Indian nations.
Webster admitted the exhibition could be seen as controversial, as it aims to reflect on betrayal by the Federal government to the Indian nations at time.
“I think the hardest part of the exhibition is to be able to teach and get people to understand, but then get people to come out with hope,” Webster said. “We will continue to talk about the revival, and the story continues with how many nations never gave up. We will show all the Indian delegations and their leaders who traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with Congress and the President ... you will be able to see that persistence.”
The museum has more than a million items in its collection, and hosts about two million visitors annually. The exhibit will likely be on display for three to four years, and has the potential to reach six to eight million people.
“We hope it will reinforce that Native Americans are still here and have a nation-to-nation relationship with the United States,” Webster said. “We also hope visitors come away from the exhibition understanding that most Americans live on tribal land. So this affects each and everyone. We believe this exhibition is a civic lesson that most Americans have never been taught and do not know.”
Tuesday’s luncheon brought individuals who represented the Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation, Comanche Nation, Kaw Nation, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Wyandotte Nation and more. Stacy Sullivan of the Sullivan Insurance, said it brought people to Ardmore from Miami, in northern Oklahoma, all the way down to Eagle Pass, Texas.
A number of those in attendance had visited the National Museum of the American Indian, and some had visited during its grand-opening celebration.
Prior to the luncheon, the crowd was entertained by dancers with the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma.
Webster finished her presentation with a call for support from the tribal nations. She said she hoped many from Oklahoma would make the trip for the exhibition and the 10th anniversary gala.