WVU Libraries recently received an award notification for a major grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council for an upcoming exhibition, Native Appalachians which will be on display at the Downtown Library and virtually from August 2022 through May 2023 before heading to the WVU Beckley Library, Appalachian State University Library, and Marshall University Library .
The goal of the exhibit is to raise awareness of Appalachian Indigenous contributions to the region, both historically and contemporary, while acknowledging the continuing injustices faced by Indigenous peoples.
“Most Americans don’t know about Native culture, from history to today, but it’s a big part of the fabric of America. Invisibility is a modern form of bias,” said Sally Brown, WVU Libraries Exhibitions Coordinator. “With this exhibit, we hope to both recognize the contradictions in Indigenous stories from our regions and in our collections, and highlight Indigenous stories, perspectives and successes, all curated in collaboration with Indigenous councils.”
Through visuals and educational content, the exhibit will explore themes: European colonial history and American policies contributing to centuries of genocidal acts; an exploration of public discussions and representations of Aboriginal culture; contemporary Indigenous Appalachia and their ancestry, perspectives, and the creative work of Indigenous artists and scholars; WVU Libraries’ Indigenous-related holdings; and Native place names in West Virginia.
The expo, in partnership with WVU Native American Studies and WVU Humanities Center, will provide significant opportunities for campus and community involvement through courses and programs, encouraging informed and enhanced perspectives.
As our Nation and the University proceed to recognize the erasure of much Indigenous history, it is understood that a reconciliation of this erasure can only be accomplished with the leadership, guidance and the participation of indigenous scholars. This exhibit is curated with the expertise and input of Indigenous Appalachians, alongside scholars of Native American studies.
Academic consultants include: Joe Stahlman, Director, Adjunct Research Professor at the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum, Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo; Bonnie Brown, Coordinator and Instructor, WVU Native American Studies Program; Beth Toren, Interdisciplinary, Cultural and Film Studies Librarian, WVU Libraries; Michael Sherwin, Associate Professor and Photography Coordinator, WVU College of Creative Arts; Richard Anderson, Senior Executive Assistant to the President, WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Maryam Marne Zafar, visual strategist, graphic design consultant. WVU Libraries Exhibits Coordinator Sally Brown leads the curatorial project.
Eight native artists from various native Appalachian tribes are currently participating. Artists and committee members are fluid and growing.
Sponsors will play an important role in supporting Indigenous artists and scholars, Indigenous designers, exhibition installation, events, publicity and programming. Sponsors are recognized in a very visible way at different levels. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, check out the Native Appalachians page on the Libraries website.
If you have any questions, contact Sally Brown at 304-293-0369 or [email protected]