Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ahead of Thanksgiving, Fairfax students tour American Indian museum

Last month, students and faculty from the National Capital Region toured the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. The museum is dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans.

See photos and students' accounts of their visits below:

Tatjana Jovanic:

In the land of opportunity where we all like to call ourselves Americans, there is only minuscule part of a nation that is actually native to this country. Today they live in reservations, but a long time ago this was their country. The best way to find more about them is to visit the National Museum of the American Indian.

The building itself is something that I really liked, and it made a great impression on me. It is located in District of Columbia, and its architecture looks like a part of the natural environment, without sharp corners and with a lot of flowing curves. The most interesting thing I have learned on this field trip is about cultural differences and how easy sometimes is to get 'lost in translation', unfortunately, with fatal consequences. Namely, native Indians didn't have idea of land ownership; instead they believed that everyone has a right to use and live on and off the land during their lifetime. Unfortunately, clash of two cultures, this native one and Euro-American, resulted in devastating consequences. 'New Americans' were very much aware of idea of ownership and they took land from natives, made them move, and even tried to exterminate them. The other example of cultural differences is the way these cultures were preserving documents of historical importance, like treaties, for future generations. Euro-Americans were using pen and paper and Native Americans were using shells to make hand-made belts.

I would highly recommend anyone who would like to find out more about American culture and history to visit this museum. One can find out more about the culture that is hidden from us and exist in its genuine form only in reservations. By discovering this part of American history, we are able to understand this culture even better and appreciate changes that American government implemented, in regards to this topic, in the last three to four decades.

Sarah Affashah:

The National Museum of the American Indian is one of the most fascinating places that I have visited in Washington D.C. area. The museum opened in 2004. It contains about 1% only of the main collection, which is more than 900,000 objects. The museum tells us many interesting stories about the Native American history, the treaties between them and the United States, and about the difficulties that Native had faced. I liked how they fought hard to keep their land and not to give up easily and I dislike the way that how they forced to leave their own land.

Actually I did not know anything about the Native American history before this visit expect their costumes that we used to watch in the movies and their dance around the fire. I learned about the treaties between the Native American tribes and the United States federal government. And how many of these treaties had violated by the U.S government.
It sad how they had enforced to leave to a new land that they did not have any idea about it and the huge number of the people who lost and died during the immigration to this new land.

I highly recommend this museum to visit. Also, any visitor should go the Native Art Market on the second floor. It has unique, high-quality hand-made items create by the Native Americans themselves. It is a great store to buy special gifts too.

Ibraheem Alghofaily :
On Wednesday, my class and I have been to a museum about the Indian American. The Indian-American people who lived in this land before the US exist. I myself have known new information about them that I did not know before I visited this astonishing museum. There was not any thing that I dislike in the museum itself because everything there was amazing in my opinion especially the real items from that time.

On the other hand, what I dislike is the way that the US treated them by forcing them to get out of their land. I really feel sorry for them and what happened to them. Although they got forced to get out of their land, they never give up on their culture. Also, we rarely see them nowadays, and they give us a really impassioned lesson.

They give us lesson that you never give up in your principles, culture or land. Because if you lose them, you will lose your personality. The decoration inside the building was fascinating, and they let me feel like I am in their time. Also the design of the building is different and I like it so much. Finally, I will absolutely recommend friends to visit the museum because it is really worth it.

Ma'an Shata:

The field trip in National Museum of the American Indian has educational values, and I learned a lot. The meaning of American Indian is the people were living for a long time even million years, before it was defeated and stabled. I’ve learned that the American Indian used to live in tents that it made of animals skins. Moreover they used one item for many purposes such as Tomahawk pipe with Buffalo Head blade. American Indian people used to use it for smoking, chopping, and fighting.

In addition, they used instruments for their special occasions. For instance, Drums, rattles are the vast majority then rasps, bells usually attached to clothing, also clap sticks, flutes, and whistles.

In terms of clothes, the men in many of the American Indian tribes wore breechcloths and often that was all they would wear. If it cold, sometimes the men wore leather leggings that were attached to their breechcloths for getting extra worm. However, the women wore leggings with skirt, and the skirt is different based on the tribe, some of the tribes women wore dresser the made of buckskin.

In conclusion this field trip was extraordinary, and I recommend any one to visit to see the values and the life of American Indian.

Aisha Jabbari:

We went to the National Museum of the American Indian. It is a huge building located in D.C. Visitors come to this place from around the world and there are many pictures and statues about the Native American Indians. Every piece of art has a story about their history, for example: clothes and kitchen tools. We enjoyed this field trip. It was amazing and we learned many things about it.

Hala Altamimi:

I went to The American Indian Museum with my school. In the beginning we had a photograph taken in front of the museum. Then we started our tour to see the kind of movies of the history and life of American Indians. It was a great and useful movie. Also, the presentation of movies was exciting. I saw the traditional clothing for them. I liked it. It was a beautiful museum and quite huge. I saw furniture and cooking equipment made from wooden trees which they actually used. It was the most enjoyable museum I have visited.

Motaz Farman:

Yesterday, our Institute organized a trip to the Native American Indian Museum. That made us excited to see the Indian traditions, but when we was arrive at The Institute we figured out we took too much time to move into the train station. Finally, we got the train cab after a long time waiting. We saw the huge building from outside, so that gave us the reason this custom is important. After the security inspection line we entered into the big dark room, and we waited for a show after we organized each other. We watched a short movie about Native American Indians and how they lived in peace and with a simple life. I think they had a good tradition but after these years everything now is gone, including their native language. After this show, we organized ourselves to figure out this museum and what it has inside. The students were impressive and excited about these customs and they wondered how these people could lose their tradition. We saw many things and we could not understand how they made these things and for how they could use them. At the same time, the museum does not have guides for people and everything was unpredictable. But we had a lot of fun with our friends and with our teachers, but I think the amazing thing was we got some information from Jesus.

Mashayer Ziyada:

When I went to this museum I was wondering what I would see.  First, we attended a movie about The Native American Indian Culture. I was amazed by how much they had:  special dances, food, clothes and a hard lifestyle. The most beautiful thing l saw was the dream catcher because I was thinking about the dream catcher from the Korean culture! I liked its story. The meaning is to act as a spider web and catch the good dreams to ease us through the day. The bad dreams pass through the hole in the center to be burned up by the rays of the sun. I will advise my friends to visit this museum to learn new things about the Native American Indian and have fun.


This field trip was very interesting. This was my first time at the national museum of the American Indian. I had little knowledge of how many reservations and land they have. What was eye catching is how they dressed and behaved. The movie that the museum showed us was fascinating and beautiful. One topic that I saw interesting was on the little boy and the seven teaching. These teaching was how a young boy understood life by watching animals behave in a certain way. These animal presented wisdom, respect, courage, honesty, humility and truth. It teaches the meaning in life and how nature and animals gives us these qualities. Also, some of the Indian tribes have many technique on how they drive bad spirits away. They call it a jump dance. A jump dance is where they stomp the ground and pray that everything bad will go up in the smoke of fire. They believe that in this performance they will discard every bad spirit. This museum had taught me many different lessons on how the Native Americans lived.

Sameerah Bahaiderah:

I found the museum to be very interesting. I was enjoying the Native-American cultural displays: their outfits, cultural celebrations, and teachings. It was all very fascinatingly pleasant until I got to the Nation to Nation exhibit, where it showed the interaction that transpired between the Natives and the Europeans. There was a documentary being shown inside the exhibit summarizing what had happened and what the exhibit showed. The video was both enlightening yet heartbreaking. The Europeans basically tricked the Natives out of their land by having treaties that soon turned into “bad paper”, breaking the conditions and slowly pushing the Natives away so that they can have the whole continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, all to themselves. The Natives were removed, starved, murdered, and destroyed. Millions of tribes disappeared by the end of the nineteenth century and the rest of them now live in secluded reservations scattered among the country. One of the Natives commented at the end of the video. She said, “When we were forced to leave our land, we took the fires with us. We took the embers along. Then we got to Oklahoma, we rekindled the fire; old home, new home, it is the same fire.”  Natives are still fighting for their freedom and rights to this very day. I hope that they still fight and they are able to win back their rights as, “great nations, like great men, should keep their word,” as stated by Hugo Black in 1960.

Alhanoof Alotaibi:

“I’m sure what brought you here was curiosity, and I hope you will leave here even more curious” said the docent, and right he was. I got to hear stories, read facts, and watch documentaries that all left me in awe and definitely intrigued. The history of Native Americans has always piqued my interest but now I feel a certain commitment into learning more about them, and especially from them because they truly have a lot to teach us about life. One culture that really caught my attention was the Anishinaabe’s culture. The Anishinaabe follow Seven Teachings which were the gifts of “Seven Grandfathers”—honesty, love, courage, truth, wisdom, humility, and respect. The animals that represent the Seven Teachings are spiritual animals and that shows us that we can learn a lot from nature and all that is around us if we just observe. The beaver is the symbol of wisdom, the eagle is the symbol of love, the buffalo is the symbol of respect, the bear is the symbol of courage, the Sasquatch a.k.a “Wilderness Man” is the symbol of honesty, the wolf is the symbol of humility, and the turtle is the symbol of truth. They believe in one Creator who looks after them, but in return they have to look after the Creator’s creations. I think that principle is one we should all follow seeing how Earth, our home, and all of its life forms are affected by our ways of living. It is never too late to learn and to change our ways for the better. Just as the Community Curators’ expressed, “We struggle to live in a good way. We start at the beginning and go through life cycles. We are always learning and growing. Our life path is about continuance.” Always welcome a good change, the beginning of the process might be difficult at first, tangled halfway through, but it will surely have a beautiful and worthwhile ending.


The field trip to Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian was an amazing experience because I had the opportunity to find my ancestors: The “Inkas”. At the beginning we saw a movie about the native cultures in America through an interactive theater. It was a movie about the relation between Native Americans and natural forces, such as : the earth, sea, sky and animals. They regarded that the nature had power, so they respected a lot belief. Moreover, many of them considered like God the nature forces. In that way, they had a special person who could cure your body when you had any ailment. They had their own culture, religion, costumes and language. However, when foreign people arrived here, they destroyed everything because they believe that native Americans were uncivilized. Many of them had to struggle to survive and maintain their cultures. We saw native culture from America, Mexico, Peru and Centro America. Visiting this museum was a valuable opportunity for reminding our history, valuing the native traditions in America and appreciating our diversity like richness.

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