At the Oct. 28 City Council meeting, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl declared through proclamation that November will be Native American Heritage Month in the city of Evanston. Executive Director Kathleen McDonald of the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian was there to accept the honor.
With more than 40,000 Native Americans living in the Chicago area, including Evanston, the proclamation acknowledges the American Indian people’s significant contributions to the history and culture of the area. Evanston’s own Mitchell Museum has been educating local and international visitors for over 36 years about the art, history and culture of American Indian and Indigenous peoples.
“We are thrilled that the City of Evanston has recognized the importance of the American Indian peoples, their history, and culture, especially in this year when the city celebrates its 150th birthday. Native American people were in and around Evanston well before John Evans came to town and some tribal citizens still reside in Evanston today. While the museum offers excellent programming throughout the year, we hope that people will take advantage of the great programs we have to offer to celebrate Native American Heritage Month.” said Executive Director Kathleen McDonald.
Native American Awareness Week began in 1976. Recognition was expanded by Congress and approved by President George Bush in August of 1990 when he designated the Month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month. The national designation was later changed to Native American Heritage Month. Today, every November is celebrated nationally as Native American Heritage Month.
Following the national Native American Heritage Month designation , Mayor Tisdahl urges Evanstonians to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities. The Mitchell Museum is offering opportunities for the community to learn more about American Indian life through lectures, crafts and exhibits.
On November 9, Dr. Henrietta Mann, leading Native American scholar and founding President of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College, will be sharing her people’s experience under the United States’ policy of containment in the 1860’s, touching on Evanston’s founder, John Evans’ role as Governor of the Territory of Colorado, and the increasing importance of American Indian public education today. The Dr. Carlos Montezuma Honorary Lecture featuring Dr. Mann will take place at 4:00pm in Northwestern University’s Annenberg Hall, Room G15 with a reception to follow. The reception is hosted by Northwestern University’s Colloquium on Indigenity and Native American Studies. The Lecture is warmly open to the public. Admission for Mitchell Museum Members, Students, and Tribal Members is $12. Non-Members and General Admission is $15. Northwestern University Wildcard holders receive free admission with the support of the Weinberg College of Arts and Science.
On Thursday, November 21, the Mitchell Museum welcomes Philip Stevens to discuss Apache Math. This lecture will explore how mathematics applies to American Indian life ways. Apache Math, named for its user as opposed to its uses, attempts to address deficiencies in current educational practices. Designed to build upon the realities of children’s home culture and knowledge; Apache math keeps a focus on the importance of the dynamic nature of students’ culture and knowledge. The event takes place from 6:00-7:30 pm at the museum. Fee: $10 members, non-members $12. Teachers can earn CPU credits.
Visitors to the Mitchell Museum can view its newest exhibit, “Cultural Identities: Mixed Blood”, which takes a look at the ways in which Native American people identify themselves and are identified by others. Other exhibits include “Another View of American Indian Fine Art,” “Did You Know They’re Native III,” and “New Treasures of Our Collection.” The permanent exhibits include artifacts from Woodlands, Plains, Southwest, Northwest and Arctic area tribes.
Families can also stop by the Mitchell museum on Saturdays and Sundays to make a Native American inspired craft. Mitchell museum staff and volunteers lead kids in hour-long DIY projects to make simple versions of traditional Native American items including God’s Eyes, Corn Husk dolls, Woven Baskets, Dream Catchers and more. Kid’s crafts are offered Saturdays 11:00 am- noon and Sundays, 12:30-1:30 pm. The crafts are free with regular paid admission. The craft schedule is as follows: November 2-3 Northwest Coast Rattles, 9-10 Lakota Star Quilts, 16-17 Woven Baskets, 23-24 Loom Beading, andNov. 29-Dec. 1 Talking Feathers.
The Mitchell Museum is one of only a handful of museums in the country that focuses exclusively on the art, history, and culture of American Indian and First Nation peoples throughout the United States and Canada. In 2012, The Mitchell Museum was named “Best Museum of The North Shore: Up and Comer” by Make it Better magazine, won the Superior award by the Illinois Association of Museums and was named a national finalist by the American Association of State and Local History award program.
For more information about The Mitchell Museum of The American Indian, visit www.mitchellmuseum.org. or call 847-475-1030. The museum is open Tuesday-Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday- Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, students and children and Free for Mitchell Museum members and Tribal members.