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.




During normal hours of operation, the MMWC Exhibition Hall and Museum Store 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 Exhibitions

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 will be on display through May 7, 2017.

Costume: Beauty, Meaning, and Identity in Dress
This photo exhibit examines the transformative power of costumes in the communication of beauty, personal meaning, and social identity, often culminating in a spectacle for public consumption. The exhibit was curated by Pravina Shukla, Associate Professor of Folklore at IU and author of Costume: Performing Identities through Dress. The exhibit, sponsored by Themester 2016: Beauty, an initiative of the IU College of Arts and Sciences, will be on display through January 29, 2017.

Hózhó: Navajo Beauty, Navajo Weavings
This exhibit will introduce the famed wool rugs and blankets woven by the Navajo people of the Southwestern United States. Situating these textiles within regional history and Navajo culture, the exhibition will focus on the theme of beauty in Navajo cosmology as expressed in the artistry of these treasured weavings. Works presented will be drawn from several Mathers Museum of World Cultures collections, including that of Elinor and Vincent Ostrom. The exhibit was curated by Associate Professor of Folklore and Mathers Museum of World Cultures Director Jason Baird Jackson, The exhibit, sponsored by Themester 2016: Beauty, an initiative of the IU College of Arts and Sciences, will be on display through May 7, 2017.

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.

Siyazama: Traditional Arts, Education, and AIDS in South Africa
Drawing on collaborative research led by Kurt Dewhurst and Marsha McDowell of the Michigan State University Museum and arts education professor Marit Dewhurst (CUNY), this exhibit explores the beauty of traditional forms and their use as a tool for negotiating contemporary cultural, social, and economic change in an area where AIDS/HIV is a very real and urgent issue. Featuring beadwork, doll making, basketry, and wirework, the exhibit looks at how South African artists are using their work to educate others as well as to cope with the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS in their own lives and communities. The exhibit, sponsored by the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and Themester 2016: Beauty, an initiative of the IU College of Arts and Sciences, will be on display through December 18, 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.

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--November 1, 2016-January 15, 2017
Attica Public Library, Attica, IN--Portia Sperry (Abigail Doll Inventor)
Batesville Memorial Public Library, Batesville, IN--Bill Day, Keith Ruble, and Glen Summers (Bowl Hewing)
Bedford Public Library, Bedford, IN--Bob Taylor (Woodcarver)
Brown County Public Library, Nashville, IN--Marie Webster (Quilter and Pattern Maker)
Brownstown Public Library, Brownstown, IN--Marie Webster (Quilter and Pattern Maker)
Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library, Evansville, IN--Portia Sperry (Abigail Doll Inventor)
Franklin County Public Library/Brookville, IN--Chinami Ricketts (Indigo)
Franklin County Public Library/Laurel, IN--Tom Wintczak (Potter)
Hebron Public Library, Hebron, IN--John Bundy (Duck Decoy Carver)
Huntington City Public Library, Huntington City, IN--Greg Adams (Willow Furniture Maker)
Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library, Zionsville, IN--Greg Adams (Willow Furniture Maker)
Greensburg Public Library, Greensburg, IN--Marie Webster (Quilter and Pattern Maker)
Jasper-Dubois County Public Library, Dubois, IN--Bruce Hovis (Basket Maker)
Jeffersonville Township Public Library, Jeffersonville, IN--Katrina Mitten (Bead Artist)
Kouts Public Library, Kouts, IN--Katrina Mitten (Bead Artist)
Lawrenceburg Public Library District, Lawrenceburg, IN--John Bundy (Duck Decoy Carver)
Middletown Fall Creek Library, Middletown, IN--Bob Taylor (Woodcarver)
Mitchell Community Public Library, Mitchell, IN--Bill Day, Keith Ruble, and Glen Summers (Bowl Hewing)
Plainfield-Guilford Public Library, Plainfield, IN--Bill Day, Keith Ruble, and Glen Summers (Bowl Hewing)
Portage Public Library, Portage, IN--Chinami Ricketts (Indigo)
Salem Public Library, Salem, IN--Greg Adams (Willow Furniture Maker)
South Haven Public Library, South Haven, IN--Tom Wintczak (Potter)
St. Joseph County Public Library, Francis, IN--John Bundy (Duck Decoy Carver)
Sullivan County Public Library, Sullivan, IN--Bruce Hovis (Basket Maker)
Tell City-Perry County Public Library, Tell City, IN--Bruce Hovis (Basket Maker)
University Library of Columbus, Columbus, IN--Portia Sperry (Abigail Doll Inventor)
Valparaiso Public Library, Valparaiso, IN--Bob Taylor (Woodcarver)
Warsaw Community Public Library, Warsaw, IN--Katrina Mitten (Bead Artist)
West Lafayette Public Library, West Lafayette, IN--Tom Wintczak (Potter)
Winchester Community Library, Winchester, IN--Chinami Ricketts (Indigo)