Families can stop by The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian weekdays during Spring Break (Friday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 29-Friday, April 1) and make Native American inspired crafts that they can take home. All day DIY crafts are free with regular admission. They are recommended for children ages 5 and up, but there is no minimum age requirement. Participants must be accompanied by an adult. No pre-registration is necessary.
The Mitchell Museum provides everything students will need to make simple versions of traditional Native American artifacts including porcupine puppets, porcupine quill boxes, God’s eyes, ledger art, and more. Each craft includes background information about the importance of the artwork to Native American ways of life.
Visitors can view similar artifacts in the exhibits which cover a variety of themes including Native American artistry, use of natural resources, the importance of tradition and ceremony, and the impact of the tourist trade.
Porcupines are the third largest rodent in the world, and weigh between 40-60 pounds. They play a variety of roles in different Native American tribes. Despite their prickly nature, the quills and stiff guard hairs are used to make beautiful embroidery on leather and birch bark.
Porcupine quilling is an ancient Native American art used particularly among East Coast, Plains, and Great Lakes tribes, and involves softening and dying the stiff quills and sewing or weaving them onto leather or birch bark to make quill boxes. Today, Native American quillwork embroidery is a unique but highly valuable art form.
Making God’s Eyes is an ancient spiritual practice believed to come from Pueblo tribes of the Southwest region and into Mexico. The spiritual eye has power to see things that the physical eye cannot.
Ledger art is a term for Plains Indian narrative drawing or painting that was traditionally on hide or scraps of cloth. The term comes from the accounting ledger books that were a common source of paper for Plains Indians during the late 19th century. This art form flourished commercially from 1874 to the 1920s, and a revival began again in the 1960s and 1970s. Francis Yellow’s (Sioux) ledger art can be found in the museum’s permanent exhibit, and is also featured in the museum’s latest exhibit, “Connecting Cultures: 40 Years at the Mitchell Museum.”
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. The Chicago Tribune named the Mitchell Museum one of its top 10 museums for 2015.
For more information about The Mitchell Museum of The American Indian, visit www.mitchellmuseum.org, call 847-475-1030 or see our verified Facebook page. The museum is located in Evanston, Illinois at 3001 Central Street. It 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.