Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin Representative Visits the AMNH

In November 2021, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), Division of Anthropology, welcomed David Grignon (Nahwahquaw), the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and NAGPRA Designate of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin to review Menominee items in the Museum’s collections. While at AMNH, Mr. Grignon ceremonially cleansed sacred items in the Division’s “Smudge Room” and carefully reviewed Menominee objects on display in the Hall of Eastern Woodlands Indians. He also went behind the scenes into the Museum’s collections spaces to see textiles and ethnographic objects and visited the Special Collections Library to study historical Menominee photographs. The visit marked Mr. Grignon’s second time at AMNH during his tenure with the tribe and continues the ongoing relationship between the Museum and the Menominee people.

The Menominee Tribe is one of eleven federally recognized groups in the state of Wisconsin whose origin story begins at the mouth of the Menominee River, just 60 miles from the present-day reservation north of Green Bay. The tribe’s lands and waters include over 235,000 acres and encompass the largest single tract of virgin timberland in Wisconsin, as well as 187 miles of rivers and streams, and 53 lakes. The Menominee people cherish the abundance of natural resources on their lands and are active in preserving their environment, culture, and language. They feel a deep connection to the area that has been their ancestral territory for thousands of years, calling themselves Kāēyas Mamāceqtaw, or the “Ancient Ones.”

Mr. David Grignon reviews a collection of Menominee textiles in the Division of Anthropology
Mr. David Grignon reviews a collection of Menominee textiles in the Division of Anthropology, including a pair of woman’s leggings (AMNH Anthropology catalog # 50/9780 AB) collected by ethnologist Alanson Skinner in 1910. The leggings feature a stunning example of Menominee beadwork embroidery.
M. Shanley/©AMNH

 

Mr. David Grignon examines a colorful collection of Menominee twined bags in the Division of Anthropology
Mr. David Grignon examines a colorful collection of Menominee twined bags in the Division of Anthropology. Menominee weavers are reviving the techniques used to create these versatile pieces, which often include two different motifs on the front and back.
M. Shanley/©AMNH
While in Collections, Mr. Grignon shared his knowledge about pieces in the Menominee collection with members of the Cultural Resources Office.
While in Collections, Mr. Grignon shared his knowledge about pieces in the Menominee collection with members of the Cultural Resources Office.
M. Shanley/©AMNH
AMNH Anthropology catalog # 50/4793
A reed mat (AMNH Anthropology catalog # 50/4793) was likely once hung on the walls inside of wigwam and dyed a vibrant purple using the juice from wild grapes.
©AMNH, Division of Anthropology

 

AMNH Anthropology catalog # 50.1/7417
A birch bark box with quill embroidery details (AMNH Anthropology catalog # 50.1/7417), collected by Alanson Skinner during a Museum expedition to Wisconsin.
©AMNH, Division of Anthropology
AMNH Anthropology catalog # 50.1/7417 (view 008)
 
 
AMNH Anthropology catalog # 50.1/7417 (view 009)
While reviewing ethnographic material, Mr. Grignon and members of the Cultural Resources Office were struck by a surprise find in Collections: two papers carefully sewed into the sides of this piece, with handwritten notes from a Menominee person practicing their English cursive on January 24, 1913.
©AMNH, Division of Anthropology