Photo: courtesy of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center

Tribal museums and cultural centers have a wide array of exhibits. Since budgets vary widely from community to community, you may experience everything from a multi-million dollar state of the art “high-tech” museum visit, to a personal tour with a museum director in a one-room exhibit area. Whatever the scale of operation, you are sure to gain an understanding of that particular community’s culture as it has continued from the past to the present and beyond. Employees and board members of tribal museums are encouraged to visit museums other than their own to gather new ideas and to be encouraged as we develop this exciting facet of tribal community life.


traditional artists
Photo: courtesy of the Akwesasne Museum
The traveling exhibit “We Are From Akwesasne” was produced with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the New York State Council on the Arts. A youth group was the main advisory group for the content of the exhibit. They were assisted by museum staff, a consultant, exhibit designers and fabricators. The result was a professional exhibit that can be rented from the Akwesasne Museum. Two sites have rented the exhibit thus far: Sackets Harbor Discovery Center and St. Lawrence Parks Canada.

The “Potawatomi Life Ways” exhibit is a fully immersive and totally hands-on exhibit.  The overarching goal for the exhibit is for tribal members and visitors to the Cultural Heritage Center to be exposed to and learn about the tribe and culture through traditional means.  We are attempting to replicate life as it was pre-European contact. Within the exhibit we demonstrate the importance of water and land to the Potawatomi and how the community used and still use these resources to sustain life, obtain spiritual guidance and perpetuate traditional teachings.

Key elements within the exhibit are:  traditional birch bark and pine dugout canoes, life-like mannequin portraying spear fishing practices, agriculture area with traditional tools and faux foods and village area consisting of a wigwam, traditional Potawatomi dwelling, hands-on animal hide stations and cooking area.
Photos: courtesy of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center
Mohawk Quilter
Photo: courtesy of the Akwesasne Museum
An Akwesasne Mohawk quilter and her daughters pose next to one of the girls'
baby quilt, displayed alongside the Michigan State University Museum's
traveling exhibit version of "To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting
Traditions" created for small museums. The Akwesasne Museum called for
community-made quilts to add to the exhibit panels.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center Seven Fires Exhibit

seven fires
Photo: courtesy of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center