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 Summer 2017 the Mathers Museum of World Cultures will temporarily close its exhibition hall for renovations. The museum's exhibitions will be closed Monday, May 8 through Monday, August 14, but will re-open Tuesday, August 15 at 9 a.m.

The renovations will include the installation of new state-of-the-art gallery lighting systems, as well as improved accessibility features. Enhancements and modernizations to the facility have been ongoing since 2014, while the museum remained open to the public. However, the scheduled summer work requires closing public spaces. We apologize for the inconvenience.

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 re-open August 15, and be open through December 17, 2017.

A Different Look at Syria
A Different Look at Syria offers a glimpse into the richness and diversity of material culture and deep history of an ancient nation that has served as a crossroads of three continents, strategic trade routes, and cultural exchange since 10,000 BC. Today, we hear of Syria in the context of its bloody civil war 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 open September 15, and be open through January 21, 2018.

A Giving Heritage: Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community
Beautiful jackets based on early 19th century European-American military jackets have a special place among the Osage people. Once used as gifts from American military personnel to Osage leaders these jackets can be seen as a symbol of the interplay between two cultures. In more recent years, they have also come to symbolize the joining of families through marriage or through the rituals associated with passing the drum. Hats with feathered plumes, richly adorned jackets, and finger woven sashes are just some of the items used to tell the story of cultural change and continuity. The exhibit will open August 29, and be open through December 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, with its emphasis on monuments and new, quasi-classical facades over old buildings. In the spring of 2016, these monuments and buildings came under attack by various groups of citizens. Using paint as ammunition, they defaced these edifices in an expression of revolt both against the monuments and buildings, as well as the the perceived government corruption and disregard for the rule of law. The protests, known as the "Colorful Revolution," are ongoing. This exhibition brings together the visual testimonies of three photographers: Robert Atanasovski, Vanco Dzambaski, and Kire Galevski. The exhibit will open August 22, and be open through December 17, 2017.

Show and Tell -- Making Craft at the John C. Campbell Folk School
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 open August 15.

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) and a mission to collect objects used in everyday life. A Snapshot of Pakistan, 1965: The Madge Minton Collection uses these items, and the information she recorded about them, to explore the common needs all people share. The exhibit will open August 15.

Thoughts, Things, and Theories...What Is Culture?
Thoughts, Things, and Theories...What Is Culture? explores the nature of culture. The exhibit will re-open August 15, and be ongoing. 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 re-open August 15, and 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--April 1 to June 30, 2017
Attica Public Library, Attica, IN---Greg Adams (Willow Furniture Maker)
Batesville Memorial Library, Batesville, IN---Marie Webster (Quilter and Pattern Maker)
Bedford Public Library, Bedford, IN---John Bundy (Duck Decoy Carver)
Brown County Public Library, Nashville, IN---Portia Sperry (Abigail Doll Inventor)
Brownstown Public Library, Brownstown, IN---Portia Sperry (Abigail Doll Inventor)
Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library, Evansville, IN---Greg Adams (Willow Furniture Maker)
Franklin County Public Library, Brookville, IN---Bob Taylor (Wood Carver)
Franklin County Public Library/Laurel, IN---Katrina Mitten (Bead Artist)
Greensburg Public Library, Greensburg, IN---Portia Sperry (Abigail Doll Inventor)
Hebron Public Library, Hebron, IN---Chinami Ricketts (Indigo)
Huntington City Public Library, Huntington City, IN---Bruce Hovis (Basket Maker)
Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library, Zionsville, IN---Bruce Hovis (Basket Maker)
Jasper-Dubois County Public Library, Dubois, IN---Bill Day, Keith Ruble, and Glen Summers (Bowl Hewing)
Jefferson Township Public Library, Jeffersonville, IN---Tom Wintczak (Potter)
Kouts Public Library---Kouts, IN---Tom Wintczak (Potter)
Lawrenceburg Public Library District, Lawrenceburg, IN---Chinami Ricketts (Indigo)
Middletown Fall Creek Library, Middletown, IN---John Bundy (Duck Decoy Carver)
Mitchell Community Public Library, Mitchell, IN---Marie Webster (Quilter and Pattern Maker)
Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library, Plainfield, IN---Marie Webster (Quilter and Pattern Maker)
Portage Public Library, Portage, IN---Katrina Mitten (Bead Artist)
Salem Public Library, Salem, IN---Bruce Hovis (Basket Maker)
South Haven Public Library, South Haven, IN---Bob Taylor (Wood Carver)
St. Joseph County Public Library, Franklin, IN---Chinami Ricketts (Indigo)
Sullivan County Public Library, Sullivan, IN---Bill Day, Keith Ruble, Glen Summers (Bowl Hewing)
Tell City-Perry County Public Library, Tell City, IN---Bill Day, Keith Ruble, and Glen Summers (Bowl Hewing)
University Library of Columbus, Columbus, IN---Greg Adams (Willow Furniture Maker)
Valparaiso Public Library, Valparaiso, IN---John Bundy (Duck Decoy Carver)
Warsaw Community Public Library, Warsaw, IN---Tom Wintczak (Potter)
West Lafayette Public Library, West Lafayette, IN---Bob Taylor (Wood Carver)
Winchester Community Library, Winchester, IN---Katrina Mitten (Bead Artist)