What would we do without the Smiths? I try to make a visit to one of them as regularly as possible–difficult in the summer when weekends are spent in other parts of the eastern seaboard, perfect for cold winter days when learning and being inside and toasty are called for. And doable even if you’ve just got an hour to escape, as entrance is, of course, gratis.
Two weekends ago, after croissants and coffee on our roof, T and I metro’d down to Archives to visit the National Museum of the American Indian. I was appalled it took me so long to visit, as just the pathway to the architecturally accurate building (circular, that is, a central philosophy to many groups of American Indians) is transformative. It is breathtakingly serene, which just doesn’t seem possible at a major tourist hotspot in a major metropolitan area on a July weekend. Both of us having taken courses on the subject in college, and me having an Onondagan great-grandmother, our interest was special, and we easily spent a couple hours just on the fourth floor. I was simultaneously artistically inspired and fully flummoxed by an intricately-seed beaded pair of moccasins, and I was completely consumed by the photos of life today on the res. Without going into the larger social issues the exhibits indirectly bring forth, I will say that, in general, the plight of indigenous peoples in so many places in the world, throughout history and today, is terrifically important to understand. In any case, whether we are trying to grasp a culture aesthetically, or just appreciate the different ways of life we encounter through our journeys, it is positively essential and incredibly enriching to maintain a considerate and open heart and mind. See you on the 3rd floor.
National Museum of the American Indian (on The Mall)