Native American Voices

Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now

New exhibition open until 2019
Ruth and Earl Scott Gallery, 2nd floor
Visit the Native American Voices website

Today’s Native American leaders are speaking. Come and listen.

John Echohawk and Suzan Harjo 2011

Leave preconceptions behind and discover a living tapestry of Nations with distinct stories, histories, and identities. In Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now, a new long-term interactive exhibition. Set against the backdrop of more than 200 objects from the Museum’s expansive collections from the United States and Canada, the exhibition challenges stereotypes and tells powerful stories of Native American successes in achieving independence as sovereign, self-governing Nations. At multimedia stations, visitors will experience audio and video clips of contemporary Native Americans speaking of the many ways in which they maintain their religious, political, linguistic, and artistic independence.

Material highlights include Lenape objects from the Delaware Valley region, war bonnets and regalia, intricately woven baskets, contemporary Native American art, and famous stone tools from Clovis, New Mexico, that, at 9,000 to 11,000 years old, are among the oldest objects in the Museum’s collection. Over the course of five years, nearly 300 objects representing 85 tribes will be rotated for display. Visitors will be able to investigate and sort these objects according to personal interests at interactive digital stations, fashioning their own unique experiences while gaining insight into the materials on display.

Remarkable objects and contemporary voices combine to offer visitors a new understanding of the first inhabitants of this land, as told through Native American perspectives.



Upcoming Events

Reading and Book Signing
February 11, 10:30-12:00 in the Native American Voices Gallery

Suzan Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee) reads excerpts from her new book Nation to Nation: Treaties Among the United Stated and American Indian Nations (Smithsonian Press, 2014). Copies will be available for purchase and signing by the author.

Nation to Nation explores the promises, diplomacy, and betrayals involved in treaties and treaty making between the United States government and Native Nations. One side sought to own the riches of North America and the other struggled to hold on to traditional homelands and ways of life. The book reveals how the ideas of honor, fair dealings, good faith, rule of law, and peaceful relations between nations have been tested and challenged in historical and modern times. The book consistently demonstrates how and why centuries-old treaties remain living, relevant documents for both Natives and non-Natives in the 21st century. More Information

“My Father’s Bones”: Play Reading, Discussion about Controversy over Remains of Jim Thorpe
February 12, 2015 5:30PM - 7:00PM

The Penn Museum hosts a staged reading of My Father's Bones, a short play by nationally renowned Native American writers and activists Suzan Shown Harjo and Mary Kathryn Nagle. The play recounts the ongoing struggle of three sons to recover the remains of their father—the unmatched Olympian Jim Thorpe—from the Borough of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, for reburial with his relatives on Sac and Fox Nation land in Oklahoma. The free program, sponsored by the Penn Cultural Heritage Center of the Penn Museum and presented in conjunction with the Museum's Native American Voices exhibition, concludes with a panel discussion and reception.

For those unable to attend in Philadelphia, the play will be viewable online via HowlRound's livestream on its global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at

To participate in the talk back following the performance, use Twitter hashtag #newplay, #MyFathersBones and/or #JimThorpe and direct your questions @HowlRound.

More Information



Image caption (left):John Echohawk is a Pawnee lawyer and founder of the Native American Rights Fund, which works to defend the rights of Native peoples nationwide. Suzan Harjo (right), Cheyenne and Hudolgee Muscogee, is President of The Morning Star Institute, a Native American rights organization. They share perspectives on their work in Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now (image courtesy of Lucy Fowler-Williams).


3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-4000


Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
First Wednesdays: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Monday: CLOSED


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