The National Museum of the American Indian

Washington, D.C., United States

The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere.

Following controversy over the discovery by Native American leaders that the Smithsonian Institution held more than 12,000–18,000 Indian remains, mostly in storage, United States Senator Daniel Inouye introduced in 1989 the National Museum of the American Indian act. On September 21, 2004, for the inauguration of the Museum, Senator Inouye addressed an audience of around 20,000 American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, which was the largest gathering in Washington D.C. of indigenous people to its time.

The museum collection includes more than 800,000 objects, as well as a photographic archive of 125,000 images. It is divided into the areas of Amazon, Andes, Arctic/Subarctic, California/Great Basin, Mesoamerican/Caribbean, Northwest Coast, Patagonia, Plains/Plateau and Woodlands.

The collection, which became part of the Smithsonian in June 1990, was assembled by George Gustav Heye (1874–1957) during a 54-year period, beginning in 1903. He traveled throughout North and South America collecting Native objects.



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Founded: 2004
Category: Museums in United States


4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jacob Davis (3 years ago)
This is an excellent museum that has a wealth of beneficial and generally useful information. I found the layout to be simple, but a little frustrating - the first two floors are basically all gift shops and a cafe. That's fine, but you have to walk past it all to get to the main exhibits. I didn't manage to go through all exhibits, but the ones I did were great. Notably, I think the curators and staff did a very, very good job with presenting both the Battle of Little Bighorn and the Trail of Tears. It wasn't just a sob story or a "woe is me" tale. Rather, both sides of these situations are presented and discussed. I particularly found the dialogue on the Trail if Tears enthralling and well presented. It shared things that are less commonly known or thought about. For example, Andrew Jackson pass legislation to start this, but eight other sitting presidents allowed it to continue. I took a picture of some other info I found interested, which is below. By chance, I also was able to watch a group of Hawaiian singers and dancers present some beautiful music, which lended to the experience. Overall, go to this museum and keep an open mind. You'll learn something and notice more about American Indian culture and how it is all American's culture as well.
Jeffery Nielsen (3 years ago)
Fun building with unique architecture. The kids area is great for keeping little ones interested.
Ms. Green (4 years ago)
Very tranquil & informative museum. I thought it was so fitting to see Native Americans working thru out the museum to answer any question about a display or artifact. The trail of tears exhibit can be sad to see the destruction of tribes. But the presence and strength of remaining tribes are encouraging to all as they tell stories of life, faith and family. The gift (3, I think) shops have something for everybody in all price range. The Dining area has burgers and fries but many cultural dishes. Chicken tenders with fries cost $9.25, 8oz chocolate milk was $2.75, Pork Tamales are large with 2 in an order cost $10.50.. portions are a nice size. Delicious!!!!!!!
penguin rick (4 years ago)
From an architectural design perspective rather than content: A very beautiful museum that's clearly thoroughly and thoughtfully designed. I was impressed by the variety of opportunities for experiences that were provided, and I would suggest this as an excellent example of what a museum can be. There are a lot of museums to see here, but I would prioritize this one.
Jeremy Kephart (4 years ago)
At first it looked like a bunch of random pieces from lots of tribes. However, taking the time to go through the gallery and read the plaques and listen to the film's, a simple central theme presented itself. I did not visit all the museums, but I was incredibly moved by the weight of history like no other museum I have been to. * Take the time to see this museum as it presents itself, it is unique and remarkable.
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Walled city of Jajce

The Walled City of Jajce is a medieval fortified nucleus of Jajce in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with citadel high above town on top of pyramidal-shaped steep hill, enclosed with approximately 1,300 metres long defensive walls,. It is one of the best preserved fortified capitals of the Bosnian Kingdom, the last stronghold before the kingdom dissolved under the pressure of military advancement at the onset of Ottoman Empire takeover.

The entire complex of the Walled city of Jajce, with the citadel, city ramparts, watchtower Medvjed-kula, and two main city gate-towers lies on the southern slope of a large rocky pyramid at the confluence of the rivers Pliva and Vrbas, enclosed by these rivers from the south-southwest, with the bed of the Pliva, and east-southeast by the river Vrbas gorge.


The fortress was built by Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić, the founder of Jajce. However, the city became the seat of the Bosnian kings, hence the royal coat of arms decoration on the citadel entrance. A part of the wall was built by the Hungarian King, while the Ottomans erected the powder magazine. The walls are high and the castle was built on a hill that is egg shaped, the rivers Pliva and Vrbas also protect the castle. There is no rampart on the south and west.

Jajce was first built in the 14th century and served as the capital of the independent Kingdom of Bosnia during its time. The town has gates as fortifications, as well as a castle with walls which lead to the various gates around the town. About 10–20 kilometres from Jajce lies the Komotin Castle and town area which is older but smaller than Jajce. It is believed the town of Jajce was previously Komotin but was moved after the Black Death.

The first reference to the name of Jajce in written sources is from the year 1396, but the fortress had already existed by then. Jajce was the residence of the last Bosnian king Stjepan Tomasevic; the Ottomans besieged the town and executed him, but held it only for six months, before the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus seized it at the siege of Jajce and established the Banovina of Jajce.

Skenderbeg Mihajlović besieged Jajce in 1501, but without success because he was defeated by Ivaniš Korvin assisted by Zrinski, Frankopan, Karlović and Cubor.

During this period, Queen Catherine restored the Saint Mary"s Church in Jajce, today the oldest church in town. Eventually, in 1527, Jajce became the last Bosnian town to fall to Ottoman rule. The town then lost its strategic importance, as the border moved further north and west.

Jajce passed with the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the administration of Austria-Hungary in 1878. The Franciscan monastery of Saint Luke was completed in 1885.


The Walled city of Jajce is located at the confluence of the Pliva and Vrbas rivers. It was founded and started developing in the Middle Ages and acquired its final form during the Ottoman period. There are several churches and mosques built in different times during different rules, making Jajce a rather diverse town in this aspect. It is declared National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and, as the old Jajce city core, including the waterfall, and other individual sites outside the walled city perimeter, such as the Jajce Mithraeum, it is designated as The natural and architectural ensemble of Jajce and proposed as such for inscription into the UNESCO"s World Heritage Site list. The bid for inscription is currently placed on the UNESCO Tentative list.