Chief’s headdress representing a killer whale with a raven on his back, c. 1930 by Chief Willie Seaweed. National Museum of the American Indian

National Museum of the American Indian

$54.2 Million raised

National Museum of the American Indian

Inspiring Learning on Native American Cultures

The National Museum of the American Indian showcases inclusive American history and contemporary Native life through tribal partnerships, a world-renowned collection, rigorous scholarship, and programs and museums in Washington, D.C., and New York City. During the Smithsonian Campaign, the museum raised $53.4 million in support of three vital areas: transformational learning, powerful exhibitions and programs, and unrivaled collections.

The museum’s national education initiative, Native Knowledge 360°, developed new curriculum resources and piloted educator institutes and workshops. In New York, an ambitious learning facility—the imagiNATIONS Activity Center—will open in 2018.  The center will help teach lessons on Native American cultures and peoples to the 40,000 New York students the museum serves.

Campaign donors made possible award-winning exhibitions such as Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.  Other exhibitions including Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist and Transformer: Native Art in Light and Sound featured contemporary Native American artists presenting their views of American culture and society.

The museum launched the National Native American Veterans memorial to create permanent recognition of the many Native American warriors past and present in our nation’s armed forces. The Memorial will be located at the museum in Washington, D.C., and completed in 2020.

During the campaign, the museum received a challenge grant to help build a corps of conservation fellows to ensure the availability of the collection for future generations.  The museum received an additional grant to pilot methods for sharing both the collection and knowledge about the collection with the communities of origin, beginning with The Poeh Cultural Center in New Mexico.  This project will pass on Native artistic skills, knowledge and practices from previous generations to the next.

In 2017, the museum began a new five-year strategic plan with a goal to raise $60 million.

National Museum of the American Indian
Leadership Message

Leadership Message

The messages my generation received were clear: Indians were figures of the past, interesting only in terms of their engagement with non-Indians.

I remember the occasional references to American Indians in my public school textbooks, always accompanied by a photo of Indian people standing on a rocky hillside dressed in feathers and buckskin.

Contemporary Indians were not relevant. This powerful set of ideas made growing up as an Indian child harder than it had to be. The National Museum of the American Indian is redefining how Indians are represented in the world.

In order to exemplify these communities properly, we require that they become deeply involved in the development of any sort of museum content.

We are building a foundation upon which tribal peoples can take great pride in their heritage and achieve their highest aspirations.

The Smithsonian Campaign will help us transform our education programs, produce powerful exhibitions and build an unrivaled collection. Your investments are key to our success. Please join us as we retell America’s whole story.

Thank you.

  • Kevin Gover
    Kevin Gover
    Director, National Museum of the American Indian
National Museum of the American Indian
Campaign Case

Redefine America’s Story

Endowment for Leaders and Programs
History in the Western Hemisphere begins with American Indians. Throughout the region, civilization stands on the accomplishments of ancient societies, such as the Inkas and Iroquois. Their communities were so complex and advanced their walls still stand and their methods of governance and agriculture are still practiced.

Today, there are an estimated 50 million indigenous people from the Artic Circle to Tierra del Fuego. The National Museum of the American Indian is uniquely positioned to chronicle their stories, as well as the stories of their ancestors. Through the campaign, it will endow positions for the director, curators and fellows. New programming will instigate global discussions about issues important to Native people.

Exhibitions and Permanent Gallery
The museum has one of the most extensive collections of Native American art and artifacts, representing more than 12,000 years of historyfrom more than 1,200 indigenous cultures. The collection ranges from ancient Paleo-Indian artifacts to contemporary art pieces.

Gifts to the Smithsonian Campaign will enable the museum to dramatically redesign its permanent galleries to create compelling narratives. They will reveal the magnificent peoples and cultures of the Americas prior to European contact and illuminate the survival of Native peoples and why their stories are important. The museum will mount thematic exhibitions to highlight the sophistication of these ancient people and acquire contemporary art from across the Americas.

National Education Initiative
Through its National Education Initiative, the museum will collaborate with tribes and educational organizations to correct misconceptions that are taught in schools across the country.

It will produce new curricula and explore teaching approaches. Investments in the campaign will allow the museum to become a global leader in Indian scholarship. The museum also will conduct professional training in conservation and scholarship.

National Museum of the American Indian

Our Top Campaign Priorities

is raising $75 million of the Smithsonian Campaign’s overall $1.5 billion goal.

Campaign Priorities

Endowment for Leaders and Programs

$35 Million

Our goal is to create an endowment of $35 million for leadership positions and programs. A gift of $5 million endows the directorship; gifts of $3 million endow curatorial and fellowship positions.

Exhibitions and Permanent Gallery

$27 Million

We seek $27 million for exhibitions and to redesign our permanent galleries. A gift of $4 million funds an endowment for special exhibitions. Gifts of $25,000 to $2 million funds a thematic exhibition, such as Nation to Nation: Treaties between the United States and American Indian Nations.

National Education Initiatives

$12.5 Million

We seek a total of $12.5 million for National Education Initiative.

National Museum of the American Indian



Hopkins, Mary

Legacy Gift Honors Husband

Mary Hopkins is a devoted explorer, traveling with the Smithsonian Journeys program. She also values the exhibitions and programs at the Smithsonian. To pay tribute to her late husband and his love of travel, Hopkins has endowed internships at the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of the American Indian. “This legacy is a wonderful way for me to honor my husband and to support the educational opportunities I treasure at the Smithsonian,” Hopkins says. 


Warren F. Buxton



Buxton, Warren

A Pair of Sealskin Boots Leads to More Gifts

Warren F. Buxton was stationed at a remote weather station in Canada on a small island north of the Arctic Circle for the U.S. Air Force in 1949. When his government-issued gear wasn’t adequate in the cold, a neighboring Yu’pik community gave him a pair of sealskin boots and a parka made with a dog-fur collar. Years later, Buxton and his late wife, Jo Buxton, gifted those boots and a series of photographs he took during that time to the National Museum of the American Indian. These are the first of many objects from his Native American art collection he has given to the museum. To share his passion for Native American culture and aviation with future generations, Buxton also established charitable gift annuities to benefit the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Air and Space Museum. He is a member of the National Air and Space Museum Legacy Society. 

National Museum of the American Indian

Contact Us

National Museum of the American Indian Campaign Officers

National Museum of American Indian Board of Trustees

  • Brenda Toineeta Pipestem (Eastern Band of Cherokee), Chair
  • Andrew J. Lee (Seneca), Vice-Chair
  • Margaret L. Brown (Yup'ik), Secretary
  • S. Haunani Apoliona (Native Hawaiian)
  • Kim Baird (Tsawwassen First Nation)
  • Danah Boyd
  • William K. Butler II
  • Brenda Child (Red Lake Ojibwe)
  • Amanda Cobb-Greetham (Chickasaw)
  • Kristopher Easton
  • The Honorable William H. Frist
  • Jeff L. Grubbe (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians)
  • Sven Haakanson (Alutiiq)
  • LaDonna Harris (Comanche)
  • Richard Kurin, Ex Officio
  • Richard Luarkie (Pueblo of Laguna)
  • Victor Montejo (Jakaltek Maya)
  • Lance Morgan (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska)
  • Deborah Parker (Tulalip/Yaqui)
  • Brian Patterson (Oneida Indian Nation)
  • Valerie Rowe
  • David J. Skorton, Ex Officio
  • Loretta Tuell (Nez Perce)
  • Darreld "Deacon" Turner II (Cherokee)

New York Board of Directors

  • Valerie Rowe, Chair
  • Michael Bernstein
  • Barbara H. Block, Emerita
  • James A. Block, Emeritus
  • Peggy Burns
  • Charles M. Diker, Founding Co-Chair
  • Valerie T. Diker, Founding Co-Chair
  • Lois Sherr Dubin
  • John L. Ernst
  • Margot P. Ernst
  • Stephen J. Friedman
  • Catherine Morrison Golden
  • Bradford R. Keeler (Cherokee)
  • Andrew J. Lee (Seneca), Vice-Chair
  • Lance E. Lindblom
  • Oliver Niedermaier
  • Jacqueline Johnson Pata (Tlingit)
  • Antonio Pérez
  • Brenda Toineeta Pipestem (Eastern band of Cherokee), Ex Officio
  • Benita Potters (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla), Vice-Chair
  • Jane F. Safer
  • Ann Silverman (Ojibwe)
  • Howard Teich
  • Leslie A. Wheelock (Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin)
  • Randall L. Willis (Oglala Lakota)

National Museum of the American Indian

Total Goal:
$54.2 Million


$54.2 Million Raised

As of November 30, 2017

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