Visit Wisconsin’s Native American Museums

By Christina VanGinkel

When you are planning a summer getaway, consider adding stops along that way that will introduce you and your other family members to some multicultural diversity. So often, we become set in our own little worlds, the neighborhoods we live in, and the limited immediate surrounding areas, that we often overlook the bigger world full of various peoples and cultures that are all around us.

When someone thinks of another culture, some might assume that they would have to travel to a different country to experience any sort of real difference, but they would be so far from the truth that until they step outside their own safe cocoon, they may never know just how close a world of diversity truly is.

Museums are a great way to experience some of the cultures that coexist, at times seamlessly. They let us glimpse where the culture began, where it progressed to, and where it is at today. There are museums that focus on no particular culture, and cover a wide range of history for a region or area. Other museums though, have taken on the task of providing as accurate a glimpse into the past at some cultures that walking through the doors of their establishments in akin to stepping through time.

Museums that focus on America’s Native American beginnings are some of the most prominent museums that come to mind when discussing a glimpse such as this into a past culture’s presence both from their beginnings into their modern day counterparts.

Wisconsin has several museums that celebrate its Native American roots. If you happen to live in Wisconsin or are planning any travel that will take you into the state, be sure to take the time to stop by one of the many fascinating museums that celebrate Wisconsin’s rich cultural diversity:

Chippewa Valley Museum

The Chippewa Valley Museum, located in Eau Claire’s scenic Carson Park, encompasses several exhibits, including a look at the Ojibwe through artifacts and photographs. The museum also takes a look at early farm life in Wisconsin, and the Yankee, Canadian, and European settlers that migrated into the Chippewa valley in the early 1800’s, predominantly to harvest the lush forests into useable timber.

Oneida Nation Museum

The Oneida nation Museum is located 7 miles west of the Green Bay city limits, at County Roads E and EE. Their exhibits cover a wide range of Native American history in relation to the Oneida tribe. You can view beadwork that is so stunning, that the first time I saw some of the pieces I was left speechless. Along with a look at the tradition of Iroquois basketry, Oneida lace making, the Oneida warriors, and more, there is enough to keep anyone entertained and interested for a long time to come. Unlike some museums where when the tour is done, you go on about your day as usual, when leaving this museum; most visitors are compelled to learn as much as they can in additional ways about this rich and diverse people. There is a gift shop on the grounds, and a visit to it is as important as the museum itself. You will find all sorts of interesting items lining the shelves and walls, and are sure to find at least a few mementos to bring home to mark your trip.

George W. Brown Jr. Ojibwe Museum and Cultural Center

The George W. Brown Jr. Ojibwe Museum and Cultural Center is located in Lac du Flambeau Wisconsin, and is a mecca of cultural exhibits. The museum features several hands on demonstrations, along with workshops by tribal members for those wanting to learn about the heritage of the tribe. On site programs include “Everything we use Comes from Nature”, “Walking in the Footsteps of our Ancestors”, “People of the Forest”, and “Indian Bowl Dance Troupe Performances”. There is a gift shop on the grounds too, and they state that they have a wealth of books available for those who want to discover as much as they can about the people.

If you want a vacation to remember, be sure to add one of these fascinating stops to your calendar. If you do not live in Wisconsin, or are not planning to travel there this summer, then choose a museum that has similar exhibits that is located near you or your travels.

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