American Indians Museum

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I actually went into the museum expecting to learn more about the Indians living in the USA but it turned out American in the name of the museums referred to all of the American continent both north and south.

The museum is kind of an ethnological museum having lots of different items of local life and clothing from the many regions of America. There isn’t very much information about the life in North America and how the Indians first coexisted with the Europeans and then were almost completely displaced by the millions of new arrivals.

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The exhibit was a fine display of artifacts from all over America but I didn’t find it quite as interesting as I had expected since I was looking for something different. What I found fascinating was the build which houses the museum.  The museum is placed inside the old Alexander Hamilton US Customs House. The building was built at the southern tip of Manhattan between 1902 and 1907 so long after the first secretary of the treasury of the united states had passed away but I guess it is fitting to name one of the main custom houses in the US after the first secretary of the treasury since customs was a very significant part of the federal income at the beginning of the 20th century.

The house is built a historic location back in the day of the city of New Amsterdam this was the location of Fort Amsterdam. And afterwards the first customs house at this location was actually build as the Government House and it was hoped President George Washington would take residence in this building but he never did.

 

Back in the 1970s the house was about to be a victim of the continuous redevelopment of the city but fortunately the building was saved and put on the registry historic places and now houses the museum and a few other national offices like the national archive.

The best thing about the building is a huge rotunda which you will see shortly after you get into the building. I found this room worth going into the building even if you have no interest in the American Indians.

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Hall at the Customs House

There is no entrance fee for the museum so you can just go inside and have a quick look around. Just remember it is a federal building so you will have to go through an airport style security with metal detectors to get in. Fortunately not many people seem to go inside so there is much of a line at the security. If you are down at Battery Park to catch a cruise to Staten Island or the Statue of Liberty you will be close to the museum anyways so you might as well go to Bowling Green and look inside the building.

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26 comments

    1. I don’t think this is entirely true. From what I have seen in Bolivia, Southern Mexico and a few other Places there are still a lot of indigenous people still living in the area. The culture has become mixed with European culture – but it isn’t gone completely.

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      1. Well, the same can be said for the US. Many native tribes are recognized by the government. One of my absolute favorite places is Monument Valley in Arizona/Utah and is part of the Navajo Nation. (I hired a Navajo guide for a photo tour on my second visit.) In South Dakota, the Lakota Nation exists. These are just 2 of the many hundred that are part of the US. The situation is the same in Canada – recognizing the various native nations.

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      2. I have been to the Navajo Nation and I don’t think they have kept that much of their traditions alive compared to the latin American indians. But I realize they have sort of home rule of a fairly big area.

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      3. Also, (forgot to mention) some have very successful businesses like the one in Connecticut that owns and owns a casino and resort. -“The Mohegan Tribe is a federally recognized tribe and sovereign tribal nation of Mohegan people (pronounced /ˈmoʊhiːɡæn/). Their reservation is the Mohegan Indian Reservation, located on the Thames River in Uncasville, Connecticut.”

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      4. I went to Connecticut on my last trip to US but have never visited the Mohegan tribe. I guess casinos not really part of the traditional tribal life though. it is a way to make Money for the tribe though and keep it going in some way.

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      1. Regarding comparing the traditions and how they are observed/practiced between the North American Indians and everyone else south, I don’t have any knowledge, but I would think that the Indians in the north might disagree with you what suggested “keeping their traditions alive”. And regarding the Mohegan Indians, they have adapted to the modern world. I’m sure (actually, guessing) they practice their traditions in private, but run a business to benefit their tribal nation. The Navajo’s do that in the west.

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  1. I have lived here almost all of my life. Born and raised. I have never been to this museum, sad to say and based on the images, the exhibits doesn’t make me want to visit it any time soon. However, I have to say that architecture! I love historic buildings so I may end up heading to the city to check it out. Have you been to the MET by chance?

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