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Children’s Festival 2017 Embraces Native Design at National Museum of the American Indian in New York

Event Draws Inspiration From Current “Native Fashion Now” Exhibition

April 13, 2017

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center in New York will host its annual Children’s Festival this spring in conjunction with its newest exhibition, “Native Fashion Now.” This year’s theme, “Designed for Fun,” focuses on designs, patterns and types of apparel found in Native cultures across the Americas. The festival is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, May 6–7, from noon to 5 p.m. each day. Admission to the museum and participation in all activities are free.

Adding some motion to the event, the festival also features Kaimana Chee (Native Hawaiian), who will lead interactive traditional Hawaiian dances and teach about the cultural iconography within the choreography.

With summer just around the corner, many will be pulling out their sunglasses. Native groups in the Arctic have used snow goggles for centuries, especially around this time of year as the amount of sunshine begins to increase, to cut down the sun’s glare against the snow. A special station teaches about this innovative Native accessory and how it was necessary to survival.

Other activities focus more specifically on Native designs and patterns:

  • Creating mosaics in the shape of the morning star
  • Crafting dragonflies, a symbol for many Native groups of quickness and adeptness, from cornhusks
  • Using stamps to decorate tote bags with symbols of the sun, a representation of life
  • Making a “Ring & Pin” to take home, a coordination game originally developed to sharpen hunting skills

“What ‘Native Fashion Now’ offers our visitors is the opportunity to see Native design through an exciting contemporary lens; it really shatters stereotypes and illustrates the nuance and creativity Native designers exhibit today,” said Shawn Termin (Lakota), the museum’s cultural arts manager. “Because of this, it provides a wonderful learning platform for children of all backgrounds that inspires imagination and sharpens visual artistic sensibility.”

“Native Fashion Now” is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. The Coby Foundation Ltd. provided support. The New York presentation of this exhibition and related programming is made possible through the support of Ameriprise Financial and the members of the New York Board of Directors of the National Museum of the American Indian. Additional funding is provided by Macy’s.

About the National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian’s George Gustav Heye Center is located at One Bowling Green in New York City in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. For additional information, including hours and directions, visit Follow the museum via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Joshua Voda  

paper bags stenciled with sun designs