Museum of Native American History

Before I left Bentonville, Arkansas I stopped off to see the Museum of Native American History. The museum was founded in 2006 by David Bogle, a registered member of the Cherokee nation. I was surprised how many artifacts this museum had. It encompassed most of the Americas and from 12,000 BC to the present. I spent about three hours here. My favorite item was the Wajaje winter count a type of calendar that pictorial documents all the important events in tribe.

The museum begins, literally, in Paleo times (12,000 BC to 8,000 BC) with a 12,000 year old woolly mammoth at the entrance. Hunters, with spears, traveled in groups to hunt the large prey with available at that time, such as the woolly mammoth skeleton shown BELOW.

Archaic Period (8000 BC to 1000 BC): As the climate changed large prey died off and the ancient Americans had to now hunt the smaller, quicker prey such as buffalo, deer, big cats, bear, etc. Hunters adapted by changing the implements and the way they hunted. The museum exhibits implements from this period (see BELOW top row). I was interested in an atlatl spear. Before the atlatl spear a spear was single-use. The head and the shaft, since they were attached were both lost. The atlatl spear is made so the spear head breaks off inside the prey and the shaft can be extracted and a new head put in. The hunters could carry just one spear and many heads and add them in the field as needed.

ABOVE bottom row: Archaic Period (8000 BC to 1000 BC) a spear head; axes for cutting down trees – these axes can cut down a 6″ in circumference tree in less than 20 minutes; a game from the period – Chunkey – played on a smooth, long field – players, spectators place bets – one athlete rolls a stone called a discoidal toward the other end of the field – players toss spears toward the moving stone – points were awarded based on how close the spears landed in relation to the final position of the discoidal

ABOVE: The Woodland Period (1000 BC to 900 AD) was a prosperous time for ancient Americans. They had begun to settle in one place with some farming and more free time. This period is also the time of the Mound Builders and what we in Ohio know as the Hopewell Culture. The museum displays many examples of carved decorative implements as well as more detailed spear heads. ABOVE top row: decorative ceremonial pipes and miniature pottery used for play by children (rare) 2nd row: bone and antler implements: hairpins, beamer (used to scrape skins or hides), awls; Shumla Knife- very rare to find intact – flint point with deer leg-bone, the point is attached with sinew and asphaltum; spear heads and a uniface scraper/knife in upper right corner

BELOW: Mississippian (900 AD to 1450 AD) was a time of agricultural, artistic and population development for Native America.

ABOVE: The largest collection of head pots on display at one time.

The museum also had a collection of artifacts from cultures that existed in Central America before first contact by Europeans (Pre-Columbian). BELOW 1st Row: Gold items from Panama area (800-1500 AD); top: Mayan Flint Eccentrics bottom: Mayan Micro-Blades (250 BC to 900 AD); Colima Warrior Figurines (Mexico 150 BC to 250 AD) 2nd Row Left: Effigy Vessels (1000 AD – 1500 AD) Nicoya, Costa Rica, Jama-Coaque Warrior (300 BC to 600 AD); Pataky Polychrome Urn (1000 AD – 1500 AD), Nicoya/Guanasaste, Costa Rica 3rd Row: Misc. vessels from Central America 650 AD to 900 AD, Misc. Items from Peru (1000AD to 1530 AD) along wall are woven coca bags

BELOW: The final section of the museum was called “Historic” (1450 AD to 1900 AD)

Top Row: Whirling Logs woven by Gladys Manuelito mid 1940’s; Angled Corn with Holy People woven by Hosteen Kish early 1930’s; Navajo chief’s wearing blanket from the 1860’s, handspun wool 2nd Row: Kachina dolls; headdresses; headdresses 3rd Row: Wajaje winter count – a calendar and historical record used by plains tribes, primarily the Sioux each individual sketch is an important event that happened that year this represents the years from the winter of 1758-59 to the winter of 1885 to 86. 4th Row: Cheyenne Scalp Shirt, circa 1870-75; Dolls: high plains Lakota Sioux late 1800’s, large doll late 1800’s southern plains, Apache late 1800’s Southwest United States; women’s beaded bags circa 1880-90 5th Row: Ute painting depicts spring Bear Dance attributed to Louis Fenno, 1903, pencil, ink, watercolors on muslin; Blackfoot headdress, late 1800’s ; bows – shorter ones were used by warriors on horseback 6th Row: women’s Santee Sioux moccasins about 1888; Cheyenne man’s moccasins from 1880’s; Kiowa moccasins circa 1870 7th Row: left-Paiute cradleboard right-Shoshone cradleboard from 1800’s; various pipes; pipe bags 8th Row: Plains Trade Blanket Coat, late 1800’s, gift from Sitting Bull; children’s vest and moccasins; Ghost Dance Shirt, late 1800’s, probably Arapoha – the wearers believe these garments make them bullet-proof 9th Row: Paiute dress, early 1900’s; Osage woman’s wedding outfit circa 1900 to 1940 – the red on the outfit means this was a first born child; Osage woman’s prairie thistle outfit early 1900’s Last Row: Strike-a-Light pouch – 1800’s by Lakota, Apache – carry to they will always be able to light a fire; children’s sandals, rabbit net; dance wands