BENTONVILLE – The Arkansans is rightly proud that our state is home to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which has gained worldwide fame since it opened ten years ago. But there is a second museum in Bentonville that deserves greater recognition for its world-class collection.
The Native American History Museum (MONAH) is a labor of love by David Bogle, originally from Bentonville. A successful businessman, he was inspired to build the collection and then open the museum in 2008, in part because of his Cherokee heritage.
Informed of a Native American museum, a suspicious reader might be tempted to sigh, âOh, no! Not another avalanche of arrowheads.
MONAH displays many of these weapon spikes, which were eventually replaced by gunpowder after the Europeans reached the New World. But arrowheads play only one role among the cornucopia of beautiful and fascinating objects that bring the cultures of the original inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere to life.
The amount of artifacts is quite amazing. Even more dazzling is the high quality of so many of the items on display. Further adding to the enjoyment of the visit, the easy-to-use electronic vocal wands provide recorded details of a number of objects. Like admission to the museum, the use of chopsticks is free, although donations are greatly appreciated.
Gallery: Sightseeing – Native American History Museum
Visitors are advised that the exhibits appear in roughly chronological order to “give you a glimpse into the lives of America’s earliest inhabitants. The museum is divided into five periods that will guide you through the ever-changing lives of America. Native Americans, as seen through their artifacts. Our exhibits feature relics that date back over 14,000 years to historic times. “
The periods include Paleo (12000-8000 BC), Archaic (8000-1000 BC), Woodland (1000 BCAD -900), Mississippian (AD 900-1450) and Historic (AD 1450-1900). The content fittingly complements the National Museum of American Indians at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
“I tell people all the time, we’re an art museum,” Bogle observed to an interviewer several years ago. âBecause that’s what we have here. We have the finest pieces of Native American art in the country. But just as important, we’re a history museum. What we do with these pieces is teach Native American history. And that’s my goal here – to try to expand people’s knowledge. “
The vast majority of the artifacts were found in the United States, with an emphasis on the Mississippi cultures that inhabited present-day Arkansas and neighboring states. There is also a sample of artefacts from pre-European civilizations in Canada, Mexico, Central America and South America.
The wide variety of treasures alert 21st century visitors to the ingenuity that kept our illiterate ancestors at the top of the planet’s food chain. This was true until the arrival of Europeans with their guns, contagious diseases and thirst for land.
This Wajaje Winter Count buffalo hide records the history of the Lakota from 1758 to 1885. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette / Marcia Schnedler)
This Native American creativity can only be understood through a partial list: baby carriers, pipe bags, feathered headdresses, moccasins for children and adults, beaded vests, dance fans, handle knives, medicine chest, Hopi katchina dolls. , oyster shell ladles, Alaskan Eskimo dolls, Cherokee blowguns, dance sticks, tomahawks, bladed war clubs, an Apache violin and a âScreaming Quapawâ teapot.
By the 19th century, some North American tribes had developed ways to record their history, even though they had no written mother tongue. This is seen in the many tanned bison hides on display, including the “Lone Dog Winter Count” and the “Wajaje Winter Count”.
A winter tally, “so called because the Dakotas counted their years by winters, is not a story but rather a calendar,” the museum article explains. According to the artist, Lone Dog, he consulted the elders to determine which event would distinguish each year, then marked an appropriate symbol on a buffalo robe. It begins in the center with the winter of 1800-1801 and ends spiral until 1870 -1871. “
The skin robe “was shown to others at appropriate times to teach them the meaning and use of the designs to denote particular years. Lone Dog’s winter tally was known to many Dakotas.”
In this sense, Lone Dog was a respected symbolic historian for his culture – a recorder of the Western Hemisphere’s long past that is so wonderfully evoked in the Museum of Native American History.
The Native American History Museum
Address: 202, rue O Sud-Ouest, Bentonville
Hours: 9 am-5pm Monday to Saturday
Admission: Free, including use of an electronic vocal wand
Information: Visit monah.us or call (479) 273-2456