Multicultural News

Eiteljorg welcomes Native American artist to celebrate Native American Heritage month

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — November is Native American Heritage month, and the Eiteljorg Museum is building on its mission by sharing art, culture, and history of Native Americans. They are doing that in part by welcoming a native beadwork artist.

The artist residence will be showcasing Haudenosaunee beadwork. Many may be more familiar with the name Iroquois. She says this work holds significance for her but hopes it can open other people’s eyes to the rich native culture that still very much exists.

Karen Ann Hoffman says you have to have patience if you want to do this type of work, but to her it’s more than work. It’s a chance to honor the culture it represents.

“I love the way it tells our history, the way it represents our current lifestyles, and the way it lays the table for the faces of those we’ve yet to see,” she said.

She’s a member of the Oneida tribe and grew up in Wisconsin. She’s always been connected to her culture, but started beadwork as an adult, adding that there’s nothing more important than knowing who you are, and you do that by knowing where you came from.

“It’s a common misunderstanding amongst a lot of folks that Native Americans are to be thought of in the past tense. That is so not true. We are vibrant communities. We exist right here right now,” she said.

For the next month, she’ll be sharing her skills with museum visitors. They’ll be able to sit on for beadwork workshops, or just watch her work. It’s part of the museums ongoing mission.

“We’re celebrating this month in a big way, but we do this all year round,” Alisa Nordholt-Dean with the museum said. “We have our new Native American galleries on the second floor that were recently reinstalled, so you can come in and learn all about the 574 Native American nations that are federally recognized.”

Hoffman says this type of art is a form of written history. It tells a story. It’s often spelled out in the regalia and the pieces she makes, like the Man Mound beaded foot stool.

“Working with beads allows me to deeply understand this long line of artists I am a part,” Hoffman said.

The artist will be here at the museum all month long. There will be other events happening throughout the month.