United States of America -- District of Columbia -- Washington
The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and its surrounding Native Landscape garden opened on September 21, 2004. At a total of 4.25 acres, the building and landscape lie east of 4th Street SW and south of Jefferson Drive, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Rather than a controlled, linear style that is found in much of the surrounding buildings, the NMAI museum and landscape evoke feelings of fluidity and connection with nature. The landscape contains more than 33,000 plants of approximately 150 species, all of which are native to the Piedmont region between the Atlantic coastal plain and the Appalachian Mountains. Additionally, all of the species have an ethnobotanical use for Native Americans, whether for food, medicine, fiber, dye, or ceremonial purposes.
Legislation was enacted to create NMAI on November 28, 1989. Leaders from nearly 150 native communities spanning North and Central America were consulted, culminating in a planning document entitled "The Way of the People," published in 1993. Architect Douglas Cardinal (Blackfoot tribe) of Ottawa, Canada, designed the building of the museum. For the landscape, the architectural firm EDAW, Inc. (now part of AECOM) collaborated with ethnobotanist Donna House (Navajo/Oneida) on the design and plant selection, and with landscape architect Johnpaul Jones (Choctaw/Cherokee) and artist Ramona Sakiestewa (Hopi).
The Native Landscape is comprised of four habitats of the natural regional landscape: upland hardwood forest (on the north side of the museum), wetlands (east), cropland (southeast), and meadow (southwest). The 24,000-square-foot forest habitat is divided into three zones with different soil moisture levels that affect the kinds of plants that grow in each zone. The 6,000-square-foot wetlands is a lush aquatic landscape filled with water lilies and cattails, inspired by the site's geologic history as a swamp. The 5,200-square-foot cropland is an organically sustained garden, maintained through Native American strategies of crop rotation and companion planting, along with the use of natural pest-predators such as ladybugs. Produce harvested from the cropland is used in NMAI's café and for on-site ceremonies. The 5,500-square-foot meadow lies on both sides of the south entrance, and is comprised of wildflowers, grasses, and two American elm trees.
Art and architecture adorn the landscape. Ever-evolving clay sculptures entitled "Always Becoming," designed by Nora Naranjo-Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo), have stood in the meadow habitat since 2007. The north side of NMAI features an acclaimed waterfall feature which represents Tiber Creek, a former tributary of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. An offering area and many places of rest and reflection are built into the architecture of the landscape. Performances are held at the fire pit and outdoor amphitheater or at the Welcome Plaza. Astronomical artworks are engraved in the pavement at the museum's north and east entrances.
Four stone cardinal direction markers lie along the east-west and north-south axes of the building. These large boulders come from four corners of the western hemisphere, and date from different epochs: North (Canada, Basins Group era), south (Chile, Cretaceous period), east (Maryland, Cambrian period), and west (Hawaii, ca. 1662). Forty additional boulders lie along the landscape's perimeter, to serve as protective bollards and also symbolize the longevity and memories of native tribes. These "Grandfather Rocks" were blessed by American Indians in both Canada (from which they originated) and the United States.
People associated with this garden include: EDAW (landscape architectural firm, circa 1989-2004). Donna House (Navajo/Oneida) (ethnobotanist, circa 1990-2004). Johnpaul Jones (Cherokee/Choctaw) (landscape architect, circa 1990-2004). Ramona Sakiestewa (Hopi) (design collaborator, circa 1990-2004). Nora Naranjo-Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo) (artist, 2007- ). Douglas Cardinal (Blackfoot) (building architect, circa 1990-2004).
Native Landscape at the National Museum of the American Indian related holdings consist of (35mm slides (photographs), negatives, photographic prints, and digital images)
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Smithsonian Gardens Image Library, Archives of American Gardens, Smithsonian Institution.
First peoples of Canada : masterworks from the Canadian Museum of Civilization / Jean-Luc Pilon and Nicholette Prince ; with a foreword by Douglas Cardinal ; contributions by Ian Dyck, Andrea Laforet, and Eldon Yellowhorn