Digital Exhibit

In Their Own Words: Native Americans in World War I

Joseph LaJeunesse. September 14, 1919, Camp Merritt, NJ. Joseph K. Dixon, photographer.

I am proud that I was the first to enlist and spend more days in trenches than the rest of boys from this Reservation. I've had some close calls too. While going over on the Soissons drive July 18, 1918. a big Shell hit 'bout 2 ft to the right of me and exploded but didn't kill me. it killed two men on the right of me. I was just black with powder. That's all, and if you don't call that luck--- Machine gun bullets tore my breeches all up the same day too.

I think I'm the luckiest Grosventre.
-John W. Smith, South Dakota.

In Their Own Words: Native Americans in World War I an online exhibit organized by the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, tells the story of World War I through the words Native Americans veterans who fought in the "Great War." Thousands of Native Americans, many of whom did not have citizenship rights, volunteered to fight on behalf of the United States of America.

The online exhibit provides an unedited vision into the sentiments, viewpoints, and personal experiences of over 30 Native Americans using photos, letters, and survey responses. "Fight till we couldn't fight no more. We were all shot up. My company went in the battle with 253 men and came out with 66 men. Most of them was killed; some were wounded," wrote Lewis Sanderson, documenting the toll of the war.

Some of the letters also pay tribute to two of the fallen warriors, Elson M. James and Walter R. Sevalier. Sevalier received distinction from U.S. General Pershing as one of the one hundred most heroic soldiers who fought in the war.

The exhibit's materials come from the archives of the Wanamaker Collection, which consists of 8,000 photographic images and 7,750 documents created or compiled by Joseph K. Dixon. The documents include a questionnaire that Dixon sent to Native American veterans in 1919-1920. The Wanamaker Collection contains 2,700 completed questionnaires, and Dixon used this information to demonstrate the Native Americans' commitment to the US and their support of the war effort, regardless of their citizenship status. Dixon's efforts helped create support for the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, making all US Native Americans citizens whether they welcomed that status or not.




The Mathers Museum Store and Exhibition Hall will be closed Saturday, November 21 through Monday, November 30 for the Indiana University Thanksgiving Break. During normal hours of operation the MMWC Exhibition Hall and Museum Store are open Tuesdays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays, from 1 to 4:30 p.m.

Current Exhibits

Cherokee Craft, 1973 offers a snapshot of craft production among the Eastern Band Cherokee at a key moment in both an ongoing Appalachian craft revival and the specific cultural and economic life of the Cherokee people in western North Carolina. The exhibition showcases woodcarvings, masks, ceramics, finger woven textiles, basketry, and dolls. The works presented are all rooted in Cherokee cultural tradition but all also bear the imprint of the specific individuals who crafted them and the particular circumstances in which these craftspeople made and circulated their handwork. Closes July 1, 2016.

The Collector's Eye: Photographs from the Mathers Museum Archive features selections from the MMWC photography collections documenting the people and places of the world. Closes December 20,2015.

MONSTERS! are extraordinary or unnatural beings that challenge the predictable fabric of everyday life. This exhibition looks at monsters from around the world, discovering who they are and what purposes they serve in various cultures, as different images of monstrousness emerge from the dark recesses of human imagination. The exhibit will be on display at the museum through December 18, 2016.

Photography from the Forest: Images by William Siegmann features photographs, taken by an IU alumnus and leading scholar, of Liberia and its people. Closes December 20, 2015.

Putting Baskets to Work in Southwestern China explores the use of basketry in urban and rural labor in contemporary China, and draws upon a newly-acquired collection of bamboo baskets documented as tools of labor in Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangxi provinces. The exhibit was co-curated by Jason Baird Jackson, director of the MMWC, and Lijun Zhang, Research Curator at the Guangxi Museum of Nationalities in Guangxi, China. Sponsored by Fall 2015 Themester @Work: The Nature of Labor on a Changing Planet, the exhibit will be on display through February 7, 2016.

Thoughts, Things, and Theories...What Is Culture? explores the nature of culture. Read more »

Willow Work: Viki Graber, Basketmaker presents a weaver of willow baskets from the Mennonite community of Goshen, Indiana, where she has lived for 25 years. Graber learned willow basket weaving at the age of twelve from her father, who was recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as a 2009 National Heritage Fellow. Where once her family plied their talents to make utilitarian workbaskets, today she works fulltime weaving baskets for collectors and to sell at art shows and galleries. While using the same tools and methods as her great-grandfather, Graber's keen sense of color and innovative designs have elevated her family's craft to a new aesthetic level. Sponsored by Fall 2015 Themester @Work: The Nature of Labor on a Changing Planet, the exhibit will be on display at the museum through December 20, 2015.

Work Exposed: Photographs from the Early 20th Century shows images of people at work and workplaces photographed by Joseph K. Dixon during his travels across the U.S., Europe, and China during the past century. Closes December 20, 2015.

Working Wood: Oak-Rod Baskets in Indiana presents the work of the Hovis and Bohall families of Brown County, Indiana, who made distinctive white-oak baskets for their neighbors to carry everyday items and to gather corn. However, by the 1930s, the interest of urban tourists transformed these sturdy workbaskets into desirable souvenirs and art objects. In recent years, these baskets have come to be called "Brown County" and "Bohall" baskets, perhaps because of the great number of baskets made by the Bohall family in Brown county during the 1920s and 1930s. Nevertheless, the history of this craft is more complex these names reveal. Using artifacts and historic photographs, this exhibit explores the shifts in the uses and meanings of these baskets as they changed from obsolete, agricultural implements, into a tourist commodity. Using the lens of work, this exhibition tells the story of these oak-rod baskets and the people who made and used them, and how local makers strived to find a new audience for their old craft, and how ultimately the lure of steady work in the city contributed to the end of this tradition. Sponsored by Fall 2015 Themester @Work: The Nature of Labor on a Changing Planet, the exhibit will be on display at the museum through February 7, 2016.

Upcoming Exhibits

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation
From the builders of some of America's earliest railroads and farms to Civil Rights pioneers to digital technology entrepreneurs, Indian Americans have long been an inextricable part of American life. Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation explores the Indian American experience and the community's vital political, professional, and cultural contributions to American life and history. The exhibition moves past pop-culture stereotypes of Indian Americans to explore the heritage, daily experience, and diverse contributions of Indian immigrants and their descendants in the United States. Weaving together stories of individual achievement and collective struggle, Beyond Bollywood uses photography, narrative, multimedia, and interactive stations to tell a uniquely American story, while conveying the texture, vibrancy, and vitality of Indian American communities. Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation was created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The Mathers Museum's presentation of the exhibit, on display at the museum January 30 through April 10, 2016, has been generously funded by Indiana University alumnus Robert N. Johnson, the Madhusudan and Kiran C. Dhar India Studies Program, the Asian American Studies Program, and the Department of American Studies.