A new exhibit at the Mitchell Museum of the Indian in Evanston, Illinois focuses on the War of 1812 in the Chicago region with an emphasis on Native American cultures, prominent Native figures, and the aims of local tribes that fought in the two-and-a-half-year conflict.
Organized by the Mitchell, “The War of 1812: Fighting for Their Homeland” opened Saturday, September 15, and will run through Sunday, August 25, 2013.
Through maps, timelines, document reproductions, and graphics, the exhibit provides an overview of the causes and significant events of the War of 1812, including Chicago’s Battle of Fort Dearborn.
One of the exhibit’s interactive elements invites visitors to think about present-day ramifications of the war, such as the debate over whether “Battle of Fort Dearborn” or “Fort Dearborn Massacre” is the more accurate phrase for what happened on August 15, 1812, when soldiers and others evacuating the riverfront compound were attacked by a Native war party. Visitors can leave their thoughts on sticky notes posted on an “answer board.”
Visitors will learn about the Shawnee war chief Tecumseh, who organized a confederation of Indian nations against the U.S., and Red Jacket, a Seneca chief who sided with the Americans against British forces and British Canadian settlers. Their stories illustrate how Native leaders chose opposite political paths in hopes of protecting their ancestral homelands and ways of life from settler encroachment.
A tabletop digital slide show illuminates the opposing sides of the conflict and their motivations.
On display are Native, beaded bags, a tomahawk blade and other items from the Mitchell Museum’s permanent collection to depict everyday life of Great Lakes indigenous people of the period.
Admission to the exhibit and curator tour is included with Mitchell Museum admission, which is $5 for adults and $3 for seniors, students, teachers (with valid school ID), and children. Admission is free for Mitchell Museum members and tribal members. Admission is free to everyone on the first Friday of every month.
The independent, nonprofit Mitchell Museum is at 3001 Central St., Evanston, Illinois. For information, phone 847-475-1030, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website: MitchellMuseum.org.