The Land Has Memory: Indigenous Knowledge, Native Landscapes, and the National Museum of the American Indian / Edition 1

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In the heart of Washington, D.C., a centuries-old landscape has come alive in the twenty-first century through a re-creation of the natural environment as the region's original peoples might have known it. Unlike most landscapes that surround other museums on the National Mall, the natural environment around the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is itself a living exhibit, carefully created to reflect indigenous ways of thinking about the land and its uses.

Abundantly illustrated, The Land Has Memory offers beautiful images of the museum's natural environment in every season as well as the uniquely designed building itself. Essays by Smithsonian staff and others involved in the museum's creation provide an examination of indigenous peoples' long and varied relationship to the land in the Americas, an account of the museum designers' efforts to reflect traditional knowledge in the creation of individual landscape elements, detailed descriptions of the 150 native plant species used, and an exploration of how the landscape changes seasonally. The Land Has Memory serves not only as an attractive and informative keepsake for museum visitors, but also as a thoughtful representation of how traditional indigenous ways of knowing can be put into practice.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Editors Duane Blue Spruce and Tanya Thrasher have brought together an array of voices that tell an engrossing story of the indigenous environment that once again inhabits a small corner of the National Mall. . . . Sumptuously illustrated. . . . The essays, which educate readers about Native ways of knowing and the land itself, offer meticulous accounts of how the museum's natural setting was developed. . . . Drenched in color, the images provide readers with a mesmerizing view of the landscape and its inhabitants."
-American Indian Quarterly

"A refreshing book on museology . . . [with a] sincere, value-infused presentation. . . . The reader comes away with a deeper understanding of the underpinnings of Native worldview, and certainly with a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness, the balancing, of the human, natural, animal, and spiritual worlds."
Journal of Folklore Research

"The built environment surrounding the National Museum of the American Indian complements the interior of the museum, which reflects many of the communities—animate and inanimate—the museum represents. The Land Has Memory is a triumph, capturing the beauty and complexity of the Native Universe and the intimate relationship between Native Americans and the plants, places, and peoples that share the natural world. The book captures the power and spirit of place in Native American cultures, past and present."
— Clifford E. Trafzer, Rupert Costo Chair, University of California, Riverside, and coeditor, Native Universe

"This book paints spectacular word pictures of a place as old as the land, which lovingly embraces the everlasting life-giving spirits within and without. It contains powerful stories of historic proportions, of honor, of revered gifts, and of the triumphant human spirit epitomized in the National Museum of the American Indian."
— Henri Mann, president, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807859360
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2009
  • Series: Gender and American Culture Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Duane Blue Spruce (Laguna/San Juan Pueblo), an architect, served for ten years as the primary liaison between the museum and the architectural design and construction team. He currently works at NMAI's George Gustav Heye Center in New York.

Tanya Thrasher (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma), assistant head of publications, has worked at NMAI since 1998. She served on a project team dedicated to opening the museum on the National Mall.

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Table of Contents


Kevin Gover Introduction: Remembering the Experience of Past Generations
Johnpaul Jones Honoring Our Hosts
Duane Blue Spruce Cardinal Direction Markers: Bringing the Four Directions to NMAI
James Pepper Henry and Kristine Brumley Allies of the Land
Gabrielle Tayac Always Becoming
Nora Naranjo-Morse Landscape: Through an Interior View
Kathleen Ash-Milby Stories of Seeds and Soil
Gabrielle Tayac and Tanya Thrasher A Seasonal Guide to the Living Landscape
Marsha Lea Appendix 1: Selected Resources and Organizations Appendix 2: Plant List Bibliography Contributors Acknowledgments Photo Credits Index

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