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.




Current and Upcoming Exhibitions

Beijing's 798 Art Zone
After the turn of the 21st century, artists and cultural entrepreneurs began colonizing a former military factory complex in northeast Beijing. Taking its name from that numbered factory, the 798 Art Zone is an urban arts colony that now attracts visitors from around China and the world. Offering a glimpse of a compelling place that is both visually saturated and reflective of the state of contemporary arts and society in present-day China, "Beijing's 798 Art Zone" introduces the district and its ever-changing artistic landscape through photographs. The exhibit will close 12/17/2017.

Creative Aging
This exhibition explores the making and use of memory art in the lives of older adults in the U.S. Some elders use their creations to assist in recalling and sharing important life stories. Others use these works to elicit interest, facilitate personal narratives, and share beliefs and values. Whether painting pictures of past events, piecing a quilt with material from family clothing, or woodburning important names onto a walking stick, life-story objects often anticipate social interactions and storytelling events, which is just one aspect of their creative utility and complex role in the lives of elders. The exhibit will be open 11/07/2017 to 7/27/2018.

Dark Water
This exhibit features a series of works, including large scale embroideries and photographs, created by Jakkai Siributr, an IU alumnus and artist. Siributr explores the lives of refugees from Myanmar who have fled to escape religious or ethnic persecution. They hope to find a better life in Thailand but often find themselves victims of human trafficking and discrimination. Due to the lack of knowledge about regional history, and strong nationalist sentiments in Thailand, the refugees deal with prejudice on a regular basis as they try to adapt to their new surroundings. The exhibit is sponsored by IU's School of Education. The exhibit will close 10/22/2017.

A Different Look at Syria
Drawing upon the Dee Birnbaum Collection, this exhibit offers a glimpse into the richness and diversity of material culture and deep history of an ancient nation. Syria has served as a crossroads of strategic trade routes and cultural exchange since 10,000 BC. Today, we hear of Syria in the context of its bloody civil war, a conflict that has cost nearly 450,000 lives, and caused the displacement of nearly 12 million of its citizens. While acknowledging the tragedy of Syria's present, the exhibit invites visitors to connect or reconnect with Syrian culture by learning about its jewelry and textiles to honor and preserve the work of its craftsmen, its women, and their stories. The exhibit will close 1/21/2018.

A Giving Heritage: Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community
"A Giving Heritage" explores the history of bridal attire among the Osage, a Native American people. The exhibition features beautiful jackets, based on early 19th century military uniforms that have a special place among the Osage. Once used as gifts from U.S. military personnel to Osage leaders, these coats can be seen as a symbol of the interplay between two cultures, and have also come to symbolize the joining of families through marriage. The exhibition and programs are sponsored by IU's American Indian Studies Research Institute; Committee on Native American and Indigenous Studies; Department of Apparel Merchandising and Design; and Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. The exhibit will close 12/17/2017.

The High Stakes of Macedonia's "Colorful Revolution"
Several years ago the government of the Republic of Macedonia embarked on an "urban renewal" of the capital city, Skopje. The initiative was seen by many as a highly divisive nationalist project. In 2016, these monuments and buildings came under attack by various groups of citizens. Using paint as ammunition, they defaced the edifices in an expression of revolt against the buildings and the perceived government corruption and disregard for the rule of law. This exhibit brings together the visual testimonies of three photographers: Robert Atanasovski, Vanco Dzambaski, and Kire Galevski. The exhibit is sponsored by IU's Russian and East European Institute; School of Global and International Studies; and the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, and it will close 12/17/2017.

Show and Tell--Making Craft at the John C. Campbell Folk School
Curated by Kelley D. Totten, a recent Ph.D. graduate in Folklore at Indiana University, this exhibit looks at contemporary craft through the lens of the John C. Campbell Folk School, located in Brasstown, North Carolina. Each Friday, folk school students gather in the community room to show off their creations from week-long immersion courses in basket making, enameling, blacksmithing, and more. "Show and Tell" highlights the school's approach to craft and individual creativity by featuring a spectrum of makers (from hobbyists to professionals) and demonstrating a diversity of materials, techniques, and interpretations. The exhibit will close 7/27/2018.

A Snapshot of Pakistan, 1965: The Madge Minton Collection
On her 1965 trip to Pakistan, WASP pilot and herpetologist Madge Minton arrived with funding from the IU Museum (today the Mathers Museum of World Cultures) and a mission to collect objects used in everyday life. "A Snapshot of Pakistan, 1965: The Madge Minton Collection" uses the items she collected and the information she recorded about them, to explore the common needs all people share. The exhibit will close 12/16/2018.

Thoughts, Things, and Theories...What Is Culture?
Thoughts, Things, and Theories...What Is Culture? explores the nature of culture. The exhibit will be ongoing.

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 close 12/17/2017.

Traveling Exhibitions

Rotating Exhibits Network
The Rotating Exhibit Network (REN) is a special program developed and coordinated by Traditional Arts Indiana at the Mathers Museum that provides free exhibit resources for libraries, historical societies, museums, galleries, Convention and Visitor Bureaus, and other public venues throughout Indiana. Each exhibit, a free-standing panel, features engaging photographs and texts that introduces traditional arts and artists from around the state. All of these banner exhibits are free and open to the public.

Scheduled Venues--August 16 to October 31, 2017
Attica Public Library, Attica, IN---Katrina Mitten (Bead Artist)
Batesville Memorial Library, Batesville, IN---Bob Taylor (Wood Carver)
Bedford Public Library, Bedford, IN---Greg Adams (Willow Furniture Maker)
Brown County Public Library, Nashville, IN---Weberding Family (Wood Carvers)
Brownstown Public Library, Brownstown, IN---Weberding Family (Wood Carvers)
Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library, Evansville, IN---Katrina Mitten (Bead Artist)
Franklin County Public Library, Brookville, IN---Portia Sperry (Abigail Doll Inventor)
Franklin County Public Library--Laurel Branch, Laurel, IN---Bill Day, Keith Ruble, and Glen Summers (Bowl Hewing)
Greensburg Public Library, Greensburg, IN---Weberding Family (Wood Carvers)
Hebron Public Library, Hebron, IN---Bruce Hovis (Basket Maker)
Huntington City Public Library, Huntington City, IN---Tom Wintczak (Potter)
Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library, Zionsville, IN---Tom Wintczak (Potter)
Jasper-Dubois County Public Library--Dubois Branch, Dubois, IN---John Bundy (Duck Decoy Carver)
Jefferson Township Public Library, Jeffersonville, IN---Marie Webster (Quilter and Pattern Maker)
Kouts Public Library, Kouts, IN---Marie Webster (Quilter and Pattern Maker)
Lawrenceburg Public Library District, Lawrenceburg, IN---Bruce Hovis (Basket Maker)
Middletown Fall Creek Library, Middletown, IN---Greg Adams (Willow Furniture Maker)
Mitchell Community Public Library, Mitchell, IN---Bob Taylor (Wood Carver)
Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library, Plainfield, IN---Bob Taylor (Woodcarver)
Portage Public Library, Portage, IN---Bill Day, Keith Ruble, Glen Summers (Bowl Hewing)
Salem Public Library, Salem, IN---Tom Wintczak (Potter)
South Haven Public Library, South Haven, IN---Portia Sperry (Abigail Doll Inventor)
St. Joseph County Public Library--Francis Branch, Franklin, IN---Bruce Hovis (Basket Maker)
Sullivan County Public Library, Sullivan, IN---John Bundy (Duck Decoy Carver)
Tell City-Perry County Public Library, Tell City, IN---John Bundy (Duck Decoy Carver)
University Library of Columbus, Columbus, IN---Katrina Mitten (Bead Artist)
Valparaiso Public Library, Valparaiso, IN---Greg Adams (Willow Furniture Maker)
Warsaw Community Public Library, Warsaw, IN---Marie Webster (Quilter and Pattern Maker)
West Lafayette Public Library, West Lafayette, IN---Portia Sperry (Abigail Doll Inventor)
Winchester Community Library, Winchester, IN---Bill Day, Keith Ruble, and Glen Summers (Bowl Hewing)