Digital Exhibit

In Their Own Words: Native Americans in World War I



Joseph LaJeunesse. September 14, 1919, Camp Merritt, NJ. Joseph K. Dixon, photographer.

I am proud that I was the first to enlist and spend more days in trenches than the rest of boys from this Reservation. I've had some close calls too. While going over on the Soissons drive July 18, 1918. a big Shell hit 'bout 2 ft to the right of me and exploded but didn't kill me. it killed two men on the right of me. I was just black with powder. That's all, and if you don't call that luck--- Machine gun bullets tore my breeches all up the same day too.

I think I'm the luckiest Grosventre.
-John W. Smith, South Dakota.

In Their Own Words: Native Americans in World War I an online exhibit organized by the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, tells the story of World War I through the words Native Americans veterans who fought in the "Great War." Thousands of Native Americans, many of whom did not have citizenship rights, volunteered to fight on behalf of the United States of America.

The online exhibit provides an unedited vision into the sentiments, viewpoints, and personal experiences of over 30 Native Americans using photos, letters, and survey responses. "Fight till we couldn't fight no more. We were all shot up. My company went in the battle with 253 men and came out with 66 men. Most of them was killed; some were wounded," wrote Lewis Sanderson, documenting the toll of the war.

Some of the letters also pay tribute to two of the fallen warriors, Elson M. James and Walter R. Sevalier. Sevalier received distinction from U.S. General Pershing as one of the one hundred most heroic soldiers who fought in the war.

The exhibit's materials come from the archives of the Wanamaker Collection, which consists of 8,000 photographic images and 7,750 documents created or compiled by Joseph K. Dixon. The documents include a questionnaire that Dixon sent to Native American veterans in 1919-1920. The Wanamaker Collection contains 2,700 completed questionnaires, and Dixon used this information to demonstrate the Native Americans' commitment to the US and their support of the war effort, regardless of their citizenship status. Dixon's efforts helped create support for the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, making all US Native Americans citizens whether they welcomed that status or not.

 

 

Exhibits


The Mathers Museum exhibition hall and Museum Store will be closed Saturday, May 28 through Monday, May 30 for the Memorial Day holiday. During normal hours of operation, the Mathers Museum Store and Exhibition Hall are open Tuesdays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays, from 1 to 4:30 p.m.


Current Exhibits


Cherokee Craft, 1973
Cherokee Craft, 1973 offers a snapshot of craft production among the Eastern Band Cherokee at a key moment in both an ongoing Appalachian craft revival and the specific cultural and economic life of the Cherokee people in western North Carolina. The exhibition showcases woodcarvings, masks, ceramics, finger woven textiles, basketry, and dolls. The works presented are all rooted in Cherokee cultural tradition but all also bear the imprint of the specific individuals who crafted them and the particular circumstances in which these craftspeople made and circulated their handwork. Closes July 1, 2016. Read more »



Indiana Folk Arts: 200 Years of Tradition and Innovation
For more than 200 years, Indiana has been home to a wide variety of folk arts. From beadwork and blacksmithing to rug weaving and limestone carving, this exhibit highlights Indiana artisans who represent a few of the many threads within the creative fabric of Indiana. The exhibit will be on display through July 29, 2016.



MONSTERS!
Monsters are extraordinary or unnatural beings that challenge the predictable fabric of everyday life. This exhibition looks at monsters from around the world, discovering who they are and what purposes they serve in various cultures, as different images of monstrousness emerge from the dark recesses of human imagination. The exhibit will be on display at the museum through December 18, 2016.



Stirring the Pot: Bringing the Wanamakers Home
In 1913, Joseph Dixon visited the Tuscarora Nation, the smallest of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) communities, located in western New York. Dixon photographed six individuals during his visit, and those images became part of the Wanamaker Collection of Native American photographs, now housed at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. While reviewing the collection a few years ago, Joe and Fileve Palmer Stahlman discovered a photograph of Joe's great-great-grandfather, Jefferson Chew. Stirring the Pot: Bringing the Wanamakers Home is a photo essay of the Stahlmans' work to return images of the six Tuscarora ancestors to their present-day descendants, and to learn more about the individuals in the photographs through conversations with those descendants--an act they describe as a form of digital repatriation. The Stahlmans note "the participant's gifts of memory should not be the final reading of these complex images and how they came to be, but another discussion point in a wide array of interweaving between the past and our present, and if we are fortunate, a morsel for remembrance in the future." The exhibit will be on display through May 27, 2016.



Thoughts, Things, and Theories...What Is Culture?
Thoughts, Things, and Theories...What Is Culture? explores the nature of culture. Read more »



Tools of Travel
This exhibit features objects that people in different times and places have used to transport themselves and their belongings, exploring the technology of travel (wagon, saddle, sled, and canoe) and how it is powered (horse, camel, dog, and human). The exhibit will be open through December 17, 2017.


Upcoming Exhibits


200 Years of Living and Thriving in the Hoosier State
From butter churns and spinning wheels to music and bibles, this exhibit explores the objects that Hoosiers throughout the past 200 years have needed not only to survive, but to thrive.The exhibit opens June 7, 2016 and will be on display through July 28, 2017.