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Know the West

Indigenous people are an indivisible part of America

The story of Thanksgiving is about coming to terms with a difficult truth: the American experiment came at a great cost to Native Americans.


According to National Museum of the American Indian curator Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche), the most American thing ever is, in fact, American Indians. “Indians have been the wallpaper of American life for centuries, and wallpaper is designed not to call attention to itself,” Smith has said. “It’s just there. We’re trained to ignore it.” It’s that idea that led to the Americans exhibit at NMAI in Washington D.C. and one that permeates Thanksgiving celebrations. In this video, Smith says it’s time to have a discussion about the holiday and see where it goes.

From the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian exhibition “Americans.” © 2018 National Museum of the American Indian