Located in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Museum of Native American History aims to preserve artifacts and objects from the vast history of Native American tribes. The museum hopes to educate visitors about the early years of North America, before it was “discovered” by European explorers, when the land was inhabited by American Indian tribes.
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Visitors can expect to find unique displays, interactive exhibitions, and many exciting educational activities as they explore the vast and early history of Native Americans in this specialized museum.
The Museum of Native American History officially opened its doors to the public in 2006.
The permanent collection of the Museum of Native American History is divided into 6 prominent time periods during the reign of the American Indian tribes. The items featured in each collection are as follows:
Paleo Period:This time-period (12,000 BC – 8,000 BC) is best known as the time of the Woolly Mammoth! This period is when the history of America begins – with a man who walked in upright – the Paleo man. During this time, small nomadic groups of people made their livelihood off hunting the woolly mammoths. There are many exciting items from this time-period represented at the Museum, including a stuffed woolly mammoth, weapons and tools.
Archaic Period:This time-period (8,000 BC – 1,000 BC) is best known as the time when the natives were hunters and gatherers. The native tribes had founded more permanent villages and had to adapt their diets when the large herd animals, such as mammoths, went extinct. There are many artifacts on display from this time-period including tools used for woodworking, food processing, hunting, and gathering. This period is also marked by the unique used of hardstones and banner stones to craft these tools.
Woodland Period:This time-period (1,000 BC – 900 AD) is best known as a prosperous time full of expansion and growth for the tribes. Agricultural techniques, cultural achievements, and the establishment of large, permanent villages marked a time of stability and societal structure. Burial ceremonies were also becoming more common, which meant that historical proof of these times have been found underground! Some artifacts from this time-period are on display at the museum including woodland pipes, axes, celts, darts, and knives.
Mississippian Period:This time-period (900 AD – 1,450 AD) is best known as a time when large, organized societies were formed. Population was at an all-time high, agriculture and hunting were producing more food than ever before, and the small villages had started to become cities with protective walls. Pottery, art, and craftmanship became popular and the style is unique to the Mississippian tribes. Sadly, towards the end of this time-period, most of the population had been wiped out by disease, leaving only their artifacts behind. There are many pieces of pottery on display in the museum from all three of the main tribes during the time: Mississippian, Caddo, and Quapaw.
Historic Period:This time-period (1,650 AD – 1,900 AD) is best known as the time when the Native tribes had their first initial contact with the European explorers. Tribes that lived during the time include the Sioux, Cherokee, and Cheyenne. It is not known exactly what happened to the rest of the Mississippian tribes and their great empires – the best estimate is depletion of resources and an increase in disease. This trend continued when the Europeans introduced the Native tribes to horrific diseases like influenza and smallpox.
However, some of the most intricate and beautiful art was produced during this period and many items from this time on display in the museum, including headdresses, beadwork, quillwork, and Lone Dog winter counts.
Pre-Columbian:This era explores the migration of ancient tribes outside the borders which is now known as the United States. There were many tribes who explored Central America, Mexico, and South America way before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. There are any artifacts on display from tribes like the Mayans, the Incas, The Aztecs, and the Colima Dogs.
Education and Programs:
Since the mission of the museum is to educate visitors about the vast history of Native Americans, there are many educational opportunities and programs. The most educational option is a guided tour with high-tech audio/visual equipment. The guide will take visitors through more than 14,000 years of history in an exciting and fun way!
Museum of Native American History, 202 SW 'O' Street Bentonville, AR 72712, website, Phone: 479-273-2456