Award-winning Mitchell Museum Celebrates 40th Birthday with Unprecedented Line-up of Programs and Exhibits This Fall

Published September 30, 2017

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS  – The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian kicked off its 40th Birthday celebration Sunday, September 24thand announced the full line-up of nationally recognized American Indian presenters and performers for events throughout this fall. The museum also announced that it will receive the Superior Award from the Illinois Association of Museums for the “Contemporary Native Women Opening Doors to Change” exhibit recognized as the best single exhibit in the state in 2017.

The kick-off 40th Birthday Party featured tours of the newly updated permanent exhibit “A Regional Tour of Native American Cultures” adding 54 new pieces to the display as well as over 50 new images and interpretative text panels covering the five regions of the US and Canada. Native America flute player Mark Cleveland performed traditional and contemporary songs, followed by a video presentation, and, of course, birthday cake. “We were thrilled so many of the museum’s long-time supporters could share in the celebration of the Mitchell Museum’s 40th Birthday. The museum has struggled at times, but through public support, continues to survive and grow just as so many Native American cultures do.” The museum was founded by John and Elizabeth Seabury Mitchell in 1977 as part of Kendall College. The museum moved to its present location at 3001 Central Street in 1997, and separated from Kendall College in 2006 to become an independent not-for-profit museum. During this time the collection has grown from 3,000 to over 10,000 pieces. In recent years the museum has worked more closely with the American Indian community to present their history, as well as their successes and the challenges they face today through this wonderful collection of art and material culture.

This fall the museum planned an incredible line-up of programs with performers, presenters and artists from Chicago and throughout the US and Canada.

On October 5th and 15th in this two-part series with the South Side Community Art Center, “Understanding Your Indigenous Roots: An Intercultural Discourse between the African Americans and American Indians,” explores how our indigenous cultures shape our history and identity today. At each venue, panelists from the American Indian and African American communities will discuss their indigenous roots and legacy of American Indian and African American peoples beyond the history of removal, slavery, and war to tap the best of their indigenous tribal cultures, whether rooted in America or Africa. After a 10-minute film short, the panelists will explore the history of mixed marriages and the evolution of cultural traditions.

On October 5th at 6:30 pm at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 3001 Central Street in Evanston, panelists include theatre director, choreographer and actor Bethany Hughes, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, photographer Nora Lloyd, Lac Coute Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, African American historian and activist Pemon Rami, and author and genealogist Tony Burroughs. On October 15th at the South Side Community Art Center, panelists include artist Andrea Carlson, Anishinaabe, filmmaker Ernest Whiteman III, Northern Arapaho, and author and genealogist, Tony Burroughs. The program will conclude with a Q&A and offer tips on finding out more about your own ancestry. Audience members are asked to bring an object or story to share that helps them define their own indigenous identity.

As part of the Chicago Cultural Alliance’s Inherit Chicago program, tickets are sold at for $12 and include free bus rides with reservations. The free bus departs the South Side Community Art Center (3831 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago) promptly at 4:30 on October 5th. On October 15th, the bus will depart the Mitchell Museum (3001 Central Street, Evanston) at 1:00 pm for the South Side Community Art Center program.

On October 9th, the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, Baha’i Faith Lights of Unity Festival, and Northwestern University present the second Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration in Evanston. This worldwide movement recognizes the history and contributions of Indigenous Peoples throughout the Americans. The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 3001 Central Street in Evanston, will be open free to the public 10am to 5pm, and host a special children’s flute making program with Kevin Locke, Lakota from 10:30-11:30. At 1:30 the Baha’i House of Worship, 100 Linden Avenue in Wilmette, hosts a panel discussion on Indigenous Peoples’ Day and current topics in Indian country today. Panelists include Nanabah Foguth Bulman, Navajo, program coordinator at the Native American Baha’i Institute in Houck, AZ; Forrest Bruce, Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe, the youth development specialist with the CPS American Indian Education; and Jim DeNomie, Bad River Chippewa, from Voices of the Circle radio.

Topping off the evening of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, internationally renowned Kevin Locke, Lakota and Anishinaabe, will perform at Northwestern University’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall at 7pm.  The performance begins with two pieces by the 2016 Juno award-winning Canadian Chamber Choir featuring dancer, Sarain Carson-Fox, Anishaabe, cellist Oleksander Mycyk, and composer Andrew Balfour, Cree. Chicago’s RedLine drum will then welcome audiences followed by Kevin Locke’s energetic performance of mesmerizing hoop dancing, traditional flute, and storytelling. Kevin has wowed hundreds of thousands of people in over 90 countries and won many awards from the National Heritage Foundation to Native American Music Award, Album of the Year. All of these events are free and open to the public due to the generous support from the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, Baha’i Faith Lights of Unity Festival, Northwestern University, and the Seabury Foundation.

The Mitchell Museum is pleased to announce the eighth annual Dr. Carlos Montezuma Honorary Lecture and Awards will be held on Friday, November 10th at 6:30 pm with reception to follow. The event, which honors individuals who have raised awareness and made significant contributions to Native American communities on a national level, will recognize Jane Mt. Pleasant, Tuscarora, agronomist from Cornell University, world-renowned artist Doug Hyde, Nez Perce, Assiniboine, and Chippewa, and author, Ann Terry Straus.

The museum will also host its annual Native Fine Arts Holiday Marketthe first weekend in December with a special preview party December 1st at 6pm.

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