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Heads up! The day after Thanksgiving is not just Black Friday. It’s also Native American Heritage Day, thanks to a bill signed into law by President George W. Bush during his presidency. According to its history, the bill was signed as a day to pay tribute to Native Americans for their contributions to this country. It encourages Americans of all backgrounds to celebrate the day. If you would rather celebrate this day and skip the malls and the lines for the best deals, then consider visiting:
The National Museum of the American Indian: Located on the outskirts of New York City’s Battery Park, this museum is located inside the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. There are many permanent and temporary exhibitions that you can check out, including music and dance performances, films and more that explore the life of the Native Americans. The museum is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, Thursdays to 8 p.m., except for Thanksgiving. Admission is free. Circle of Dance is one of the exhibits, a five-year one that “presents Native dance as a vibrant, meaningful, and diverse form of cultural expression. Featuring ten social and ceremonial dances from throughout the Americas, the exhibition illuminates the significance of each dance and highlights the unique characteristics of its movements and music.”
There is another location of the same museum at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. One exhibit in Washington is “For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw” a retrospective exhibition of works by photographer Horace Poolaw. The photographer’s black-and-white images are a tribute to the Native people of rural Oklahoma. The exhibition includes 81 photographs; 10 vintage postcards; and Poolaw’s camera, the Speed Graphic, manufactured by Graflex in the 1940s. “For a Love of His People” will be on view through Sunday, Feb. 15, in the museum’s West Gallery. Running until 2020 is the Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.
The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico is and has exhibits and artwork from contemporary Native American artists. The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts was formed in 1972 and more recently was relocated to a Pueblo Revival-styled building. Their mission is to “encourage creative expression to engage, establish, and cultivate cross-cultural discussion with local, national, and global communities.”
The Heard Museum is a great place to honor Native American Heritage Day because it combines the stories of the Native Americans with artwork, exhibitions and festivals. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, the Museum is currently hosting Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist on display through January 8, 2017. It focuses on one of the most popular and gifted Native American artists out there today. There are also exhibits on the homes of the Native Americans including Navajo hogan, the Pueblo horno and the 400 katsina dolls that are on display.
The museum also honors the Native American veterans with a National Memorial, which is located outside the Collector’s Room of the Heard Museum Shop and includes several sizable sculptures by acclaimed Native artists Chiricahua Apache sculptor Allan Houser (1914-1994) and Michael Naranjo.