From the Director
Guwaadzi Hauba (Greetings Everyone),
I have served three tenures at the National Museum of the American Indian beginning as an intern in 1994, then a curator in the early 2000s, and finally as an assistant director. In 2022, I was named the director of the museum, which has left me feeling grateful to lead an institution that means so much to me personally and professionally. All roads brought me back to this very special Native place whose spirit lives in three locations, so I give thanks and say naitra (thank you).
The National Museum of the American Indian's mission prioritizes partnerships with Indigenous people and their allies, which is central to the museum's efforts to contribute to a more informed understanding of Native and Indigenous people worldwide. In the work we do at the museum, we endeavor to collaborate, consult, and cooperate with Indigenous people and communities as a means to foreground their perspectives, knowledge, and experiences in our exhibitions, collections documentation, programs, and projects. This philosophical and ethical approach has been a part of the museum since its inception and remains fundamental to the museum's identity.
As a San Felipe tribal member whose life is greatly influenced by my cultural background and Indigenous arts, I value the museum's role as steward of an important and beautiful collection, which includes more than 800,000 items from Indigenous cultures across the Western Hemisphere. Please take an opportunity to see what the museum has available online through the museum's Collections Search database. As important is the stewardship of the museum’s three locations, where the collection finds its home, whether at our Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland, or at our museums in Washington, DC, and New York.
We aim to educate and inspire positive change through our dynamic exhibitions, engaging events, and an innovative national education initiative called Native Knowledge 360°, which is transforming teaching and learning about Indigenous history and culture. Its lessons challenge assumptions about Indigenous peoples and show how their contributions and innovations influence our daily lives. One such example is the remarkable history of military service by Indigenous men and women commemorated by the National Native American Veterans Memorial on the museum's grounds.
I thank you for your interest and support of the National Museum of the American Indian. Come visit us, whether online or in person, and share in the beauty, resilience, and richness of Indigenous peoples' cultures, arts, and histories.
Cynthia Chavez Lamar
National Museum of the American Indian