Can We Memorialize Historical Figures Without Glorifying Atrocities? Museum Hosts Panel as Part of Indigenous Peoples Celebration

Weekend Celebration Includes Craftspeople and Oneida Indian Nation Dancers

PHILADELPHIA, SEPT. 13, 2018 — This Columbus Day weekend, the Museum of the American Revolution will host an Indigenous Peoples Celebration from Thursday, Oct. 4 Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in partnership with the Oneida Indian Nation. The celebration of indigenous peoples and cultures will include a performance by Oneida Indian Nation dancers, demonstrations by native craftspeople, and an evening panel discussion.

On Thursday, Oct. 4 at 6 p.m., the Museum will kick off the weekend with a panel discussion about contemporary debates over historical memory, entitled “Honoring and Remembering: Can We Memorialize Historical Figures Without Glorifying Atrocities?” The panel will explore whether a moral society can at once honor the positive accomplishments of historical figures while also accurately recounting the negative consequences of their actions, as well as how we can lift up other stories that have often gone untold.

Panelists include Kevin Gover, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian; Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation Representative, Nation Enterprises CEO and a Museum Board Member; Rosalyn J. McPherson, president of The ROZ Group, which managed community relations and oversaw historical content for The President’s House Project in Philadelphia, among others; and Dr. Eric Shed, lecturer on education and co-director of the Harvard Teacher Fellows Program whose work with teachers includes how to challenge the popular Columbus narrative.

“The Museum of the American Revolution is the perfect setting for this important conversation, considering its renowned work providing a nuanced and inclusive record of the country’s founding,” said Halbritter. “As the country prepares to recognize Columbus Day, it is important to explore how we can remember historical figures accurately and appropriately. This conversation goes well beyond the nation’s founding and has recently included debates about monuments to Confederate military icons and other memorials.”

Tickets to the panel discussion are $20 for general admission, $15 for Museum members and $10 students (must show ID on site) and can be purchased here.

On Saturday, Oct. 6, from 11 a.m. – Noon in the Museum’s second-floor Oneida Indian Nation Atrium, Michael Galban, curator for the Seneca Art & Culture Center at Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor, NY, will discuss how we can best use objects to tell the stories of the past. Galban will bring Native American objects that become gateways to a deeper discussion of the period of the American Revolution.

From 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. in Liberty Hall, Galban will give a behind-the-scenes look at creating the “look” of the lifelike figures in the Oneida Nation Theater, including the careful production and reproduction of the clothing, accoutrements, and physical appearances of the figures.

On Monday, Oct. 8 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m.  and 3 p.m., dancers from the Oneida Indian Nation will perform traditional Haudenosaunee social dances, incorporating drumbeats and chants, in authentic dress on the Museum’s outdoor plaza. It is free and open to the public.

Full press release here. Photos here.