Four hundred years ago, the Chesapeake Bay region abounded in forests, meadows, wetlands, and croplands. The National Museum of the American Indian restores these environments and is home to more than 27,000 trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants representing 145 different species.Translations in Virginia Algonquian, Tuscarora, Catawba, and Munsee Delaware
Native peoples encouraged the growth of a variety of plants, also known as biodiversity. Ethnobotanist Donna House (Din?/Oneida) used this concept in her work to restore the museum grounds. She was also guided by the Din? (Navajo) principle of h?zh?, which means "beauty and harmony coming about." The original peoples of present-day Washington, D.C., the Anacostans - for whom the Anacosta River is named - understood this land through observation of nature. Such ancient observations came together with rigorous botanical research in the re-creation of these grounds.
courtesy Dr. Blair Rudes, University of North Carolina
"We give a greeting and thanksgiving to the many supporters of our own lives - the corn, beans, squash, the winds, the sun."
? - Sotsisowah [John Mohawk (Seneca)]
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Knowing This Place
We invite you to walk around the museum grounds and find panels that explain the meanings of each environment. You will learn about the many ways that Native peoples changed and were influenced by the forest, meadow, wetlands, and croplands.