The Entrance to the Museum from the National Mall

The Entrance to the Museum from the National Mall

Pause and Listen

A Welcoming Landscape

A Welcoming Landscape

The Sound of Rushing Water

The Sound of Rushing Water

The Opening Day of the Museum

The Opening Day of the Museum

An Eagle over the Museum

An Eagle over the Museum

About

Welcome! We think of this spot as the entrance to the Museum and look back to the opening day festivities on the National Mall.

A Welcoming Landscape

An Audio Transcript

You may be surprised to know that we think of this spot as the entrance to the National Museum of the American Indian. To Native peoples, the land that the Museum is just as important a part of the whole as are the exhibition objects inside.

Tanya Thrasher is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

"…the landscape is a wonderful introduction to Native philosophy at its core. What we're introducing visitors immediately, and in the most raw sense, to …many of the materials that created the art that they'll see inside. That when they see a basket, perhaps they'll think about what it took to make that…"

Four natural habitat areas encircle the building: forest, wetlands, croplands, and meadow. Underneath the noise of the city is a more subtle soundscape. Let the sounds of the water wash away the noise of the city.

The Opening Day of the Museum

An Audio Transcript

Turn around so that you are facing the National Mall. It is September 21, 2004, the opening day of the Museum. There are people as far as the eye can see – thousands resplendent in their regalia. They are all here to celebrate one of the most important events in the history of the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere.

Founding director, W. Richard West Junior is Southern Cheyenne and a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma:

"On behalf of the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum, I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts, for honoring us today with your presence on this very very special day. And I say to those of you who descend from the native ancestors who are already here, welcome home."

An Eagle over the Museum

An Audio Transcript

Gabrielle Tayac.

"Opening Day, September 21st, 2004, thousands of Native people and people of all backgrounds coming together for the opening… and there was actually a bald eagle flying over the Mall and it was quite amazing. It was very inspiring. It was all about recovery and renewal and coming back in a place that's very old, but also it is a new space in many ways on its own terms, so it was symbolic and it was thrilling.