The Mitchell Museum provides everything students will need to make simple versions of traditional Native American artifacts including paper moccasins, canoes, Plains shields and more. Each craft includes background information about the importance of the artifact to Native American ways of life.
Visitors can view similar artifacts in the exhibits which cover a variety of themes including clothing and regalia, traditional transportation, use of natural resources, and the impact of the tourist trade.
Moccasins are found in every tribe across the United States and Canada. Although each tribe has a name for “shoe” in their own language, the word “moccasin” is widely accepted and acknowledged. Each tribe and each geographic region has their own style of moccasin. Students can fold their own moccasin out of paper, decorating the tops and bottoms of the shoes in a Native American style, taking inspiration from moccasins on display.
Transportation also differed according to region which is reflected in the styles of canoes. From the Eastern Woodlands birch bark canoe to the Northwest Coast carved cedar dugout canoe to the Arctic kayaks, each reflected the natural resources in the region and the needs of tribes. Students can select from these three styles of canoes. They will learn the ways each was constructed, their use in each region, and compare them to the Mitchell Museum’s over 40 year old birch bark canoe.
Shields made by tribes on the Plains don’t always symbolize war, although war was a reality. Some shields provided spiritual protection and healing to their owner. Lighter and thinner than their combative counterparts, the shield patterns often reflected the inner spiritual strengths of the owner. The Mitchell Museum’s permanent exhibit showcases a Plains shield that students can take inspiration from to design their own shield that reflects their personality.
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.