Today was a day for celebration. Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian Director Kevin Gover announced changes designed to make the Oneida Nation’s Allies in War, Partners in Peace statue exhibit at the museum an unforgettable experience. Halbritter also presented Gover the eighth $1 million installment of the Oneida Nation’s $10 million commitment to the museum. The announcement took place at a ceremony on the Oneida’s central New York homelands.
Allies in War, Partners in Peace is a life-size bronze statue on the fourth floor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. It embodies the friendship forged between the Oneida Nation and the United States during the Revolutionary War. The statue depicts Oneida Chief Skenandoah and an Oneida woman, Polly Cooper, along with General George Washington in a commemoration of the bonds between two nations. ?Changes to the exhibit include an emotional and dramatic multimedia presentation. Halbritter said, “The existing sculpture is brought to life as the great figures of George Washington and Chief Skenandoah tell stories about the important role the Oneidas played in the founding of this country. They share tales of patriotism, friendship, and cooperation in a multimedia exhibit that entertains and engages visitors of all ages.”? The eight minute show flows seamlessly from one subject to the next, filling the entire gallery from floor to ceiling and immersing the audience within the storytelling montage.? Gover said, “Allies in War, Partners in Peace is already a favorite with our museum visitors. With this enhanced interpretation, they will not only appreciate the magnificence of the sculpture, but they will also fully comprehend just how critical an ally the Oneida Nation was to the Continental army, literally keeping them alive by supplying food and medicine during the harsh winter at Valley Forge. Visitors will also learn about the heroine, Polly Cooper, an Oneida woman who chose to stay with the American army and cooked and cared for the sick and suffering soldiers. Because of her, many lives were saved.”
In 2002, the Oneida Nation pledged $10 million over a multi-year time frame to the National Museum of the American Indian. Halbritter said, “We are pleased to continue our partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. This museum not only gives the Oneida Nation, but all American Indian nations, the opportunity to share their story accurately and completely.”? Gover added, “The Oneida Nation’s historical generosity continues to this day. With this gift, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is able to fulfill its mission to share knowledge of the past, present, and future of Native America with the millions of visitors it receives each year through its doors and web portal. We are humbled by and ever grateful for their magnanimity.”
The National Museum of the American Indian is the first national museum dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of American Indians. Established by an act of Congress in 1989, the NMAI has three facilities: the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which opened on September 21, 2004; the George Gustav Heye Center, a permanent museum in New York City; and the Cultural Resources Center, a research and collections facility in Suitland, Maryland. According to the museum website, the museum “works in collaboration with the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere to protect and foster their cultures by reaffirming traditions and beliefs, encouraging contemporary artistic expression, and empowering the Indian voice.”