Presented in Partnership with Akomawt Educational Initiative and Jonathan James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag Nation)
BOSTON (September 30, 2019)—The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is offering its first free celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday, October 14, presented in partnership with the Akomawt Educational Initiative and Jonathan James-Perry, Tribal Citizen of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Nation. The community celebration re-positions Columbus Day as a holiday to honor the original inhabitants of the Americas. Part of the Fenway Alliance’s 18th annual Opening Our Doors Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day at the MFA recognizes the heritage of Native Americans and the histories of their nations and communities, promoting the artistry of indigenous peoples in Greater Boston and New England. Throughout the day, visitors can explore the Native North American Art Gallery, enjoy music and dance, and drop in on a variety of family art-making activities. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is sponsored by Ameriprise Financial. Additional programming support is provided by The Lowell Institute.
“The MFA was founded in 1870 and stands on the historic homelands of the Massachusett people. This event is one step in building bridges and engaging indigenous communities with the Museum through local and region-wide partnerships with artists, performers, educators, tribal nation leaders and community members,” said Makeeba McCreary, Patti and Jonathan Kraft Chief of Learning and Community Engagement at the MFA. “As a museum, we acknowledge the long history of the land that we occupy today and seek ways to make these narratives more prominent and visible within our galleries.”
During the celebration, visitors are invited to share their perspectives on Cyrus Dallin’s Appeal to the Great Spirit (1909), a monumental sculpture on the MFA’s Huntington Avenue lawn, through a community-activated art project. Visitor feedback will help to inform the interpretation of the work—continuing conversations that began during a spring 2019 lecture and community discussion. In the afternoon, a welcome and blessing will be held by Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director; Elizabeth Solomon, Member of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag; Jonathan James-Perry, Tribal Citizen of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Nation; and Chris Newell, Passamaquoddy, Akomawt Educational Initiatve.
Additional highlights of the community celebration include:
- Tours in the Native North American Art Gallery co-led by MFA curators and educators from the Akomawt Educational Initiative
- Native American hoop dance performances by Toronto-based professional hoop dancer Lisa Odjig (Ojibwe), telling the story of creation; narrated by renowned musician Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy), also the co-founder and director of education at the Akomawt Educational Initiative
- Vocal performances by Jennifer Kreisberg (Tuscarora, North Carolina)
- Hand drum and contemporary powwow song performances by the Iron River Singers, an intertribal northern style group composed of Ojibwe, Abenaki and Wampanoag singers from the South Coast of Massachusetts
- Interactive songs and dances by The Kingfisher Dance Theater, featuring members of the Southern New England Native community
- Art-making activities led by Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag) and Kerri Helme (Mashpee Wampanoag)
- Weaving and beadwork demonstrations with artist Sparrow Plainbull (Haliwa-Saponi)
Indigenous Peoples’ Day one of 11 annual community celebrations at the MFA, co-created with valued community partners, artists and performers, highlighting external perspectives and local expertise. The series includes Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lunar New Year, Nowruz, Memorial Day, Highland Street Foundation Free Fun Friday, Latinx Heritage Night, ASL Night, Diwali and Hanukkah.
Schedule of Indigenous Peoples' Day Events
Museum admission is free all day, 10 am–5 pm
Share Your Thoughts
10 am–4 pm | Huntington Avenue Lawn
What do you see when you look at Cyrus Dallin’s sculpture Appeal to the Great Spirit? Share your thoughts about this artwork. Your response will inform its future interpretation.
Welcome and Blessing
1:30 pm | Shapiro Family Courtyard
Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director; Jonathan James-Perry, Tribal Citizen of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Nation; and Chris Newell, Akomawt Educational Initiative
Native American Hoop Dance Featuring Lisa Odjig (Ojibwe)
11 am and 2 pm | Shapiro Family Courtyard
Watch as two-time World Hoop Dance Champion Lisa Odjig tells the story of creation using music, dance and multiple flexible hoops. Narrated by renowned musician and MC Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy).
Jennifer Kreisberg (Tuscarora Nation)
Noon and 3 pm | Remis Auditorium
Mother, singer, composer, producer, teacher, and activist—Jennifer Kreisberg (Tuscarora, North Carolina) comes from four generations of Seven Singing Sisters through her maternal line. She is known for her fierce vocals and soaring range.
Iron River Singers
Enjoy hand drum and contemporary powwow songs from Iron River Singers, an intertribal northern style group comprised of Ojibwe, Abenaki, and Wampanoag singers from the South Coast of Massachusetts.
The Kingfisher Dance Theater
11:30 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm | Gallery 250
Enjoy interactive song and dance with members of the Southern New England Native community.
10 am–1 pm | Education Center in the Druker Family Pavilion, Room 159
Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag): Wampum
11am–4 pm | Gallery 168
Sparrow Plainbull (Haliwa-Saponi): Weaving and beadwork
Examining the Collection Tours
10:30 am and 2:30 pm | Gallery LG33
Join Akomawt Educational Initiative educators and MFA curators in the Native North American Art gallery as they discuss the defining characteristics of “Native art” and who gets to make these decisions. Hear about techniques used in the works on display and learn about the ever-changing cultural contexts in which we understand them.
Meet at Sharf Visitor Center
Join a free guided tour to explore highlights from the Museum’s many collections.
10:30 am | Highlights of the Museum Collections
11:30 am | Art of Asia
12:15 pm | Art of the Americas
12:30 pm | 3 in 30 Minutes
1 pm | Introduction to the Contemporary Collection
1:45 pm | Art of Europe
2:30 pm | Art of the Ancient World
3:15 pm | Highlights of the Museum Collections
About the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Education, access and community programs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), connect visitors from Boston’s neighborhoods, New England and around the world with art. The MFA welcomes more than one million visitors annually, serving many through its learning and community engagement programs. Opportunities for free and discounted admission for students, teachers, children, EBT card holders and military personnel and veterans can be found at mfa.org/visit, including free access for college students through the MFA’s University Membership and Pozen Community College Access program. Visitors can also learn about access programming for visitors with disabilities online, which includes free entry for personal care attendants. Additionally, the MFA Citizens program offers free one-year family memberships to newly naturalized U.S. citizens living in Massachusetts. The Museum is free for all after 4 pm every Wednesday and offers 11 free community celebrations annually. Each year, the Museum welcomes approximately 55,000 students and teachers—kindergarten through high school—for school group visits. Additional educational programming includes gallery talks, lectures, artist demonstrations, studio art classes and art-making workshops for hospital patients. In 2020, the MFA is marking its 150th anniversary with a yearlong celebration of generosity, community and inclusion through a series of special events and initiatives.