From the Acting Director


Each day there is a moment that I find myself thinking how proud I am to be part of this museum. I am glad to have the opportunity to share with you some of the incredible work we do.

Although my name might be new to you, I have spent my career at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian; right now, I am serving as Acting Director. Usually, my role is Deputy Director of the museum. In this capacity I provide administrative and programmatic input for the day-to-day operations of the museum and oversee several departments: administration, advancement, executive and financial planning, and institutional partnerships.

The National Museum of the American Indian works in partnership with Native peoples and their allies to foster a richer shared human experience through a more informed understanding of Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere. We work towards equity and social justice for Native peoples through education, inspiration, and empowerment.

We do this through critically acclaimed exhibitions, extensive collections, dynamic programs, and a national educational initiative that is transforming teaching and learning about Native Americans.

We care for one of the most extensive collections of Native American objects in the world: more than 800,000 items representing 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 Indigenous cultures. Many are searchable online.

By collaborating and consulting with the Native and Indigenous community members whose material culture we are entrusted with, the museum keeps Native voices in all that we do.

The museum has a dynamic, year-round, calendar of programs. The shift to online has given us an opportunity to share these with audiences even further afield.

Through our national educational initiative, Native Knowledge 360°, the museum provides educators and students with new perspectives on Native American history and culture. I think this work is valuable for all of us, as it challenges assumptions and offers a view that includes the past and the vibrancy of our cultures today.

Most recently, on the grounds of our museum in Washington, D.C., we opened the National Native American Veterans Memorial. It has brought widespread attention to the service and sacrifice of Native veterans. The museum has a particular focus on Native Veterans and has deep online resources available such as our newly launched online exhibition Why We Serve and educational website Native Words, Native Warriors.

While we search for a new director, I am honored to be leading the museum. We continue to lift the voices of Native people through these programs and many more activities. I hope you look to these to expand your understanding of Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere.


Machel Monenerkit
Acting Director
National Museum of the American Indian