We visited the Museum of Native American History (MONAH) in Bentonville, Arkansas. We expected to see a large collection of local arrowheads, and we did, but there is lots more than that to see at MONAH!
When you first enter, you will be greeted with a mammoth skeleton and mammoth bellowing.
You’ll be greeted and given a recorder that gives you more information when you push the numbers for the various exhibits. In one of the first exhibits, the collection of food preparation tools shown above, for example, you can push 8, 9, or 10 to get the details of the tools at the front of the collection.
Many of the early displays showed tools made of stone, rock, wood, or bone. That includes a very wide variety of arrowheads.
Lots of arrowheads! In addition to many cases displayed on the walls, there are many, many drawers of additional arrowheads. Kids under 15 can even search for modern arrowheads outside of the museum, and keep the ones they find.
In addition to the exhibits of tools, there are collections of toys, clothing, furniture, and many more artifacts showing the daily life of native people across the country.
Some of the most impressive works are the clothing and other items made with beads. The collection of moccasins above is just one of many cases of beadwork.
This pair, made by Cree people from the Plains, show beading done in vertical bands rather than the more common horizontal patterns.
The pouches above show fancy patterns made with tiny beads.
Beads were woven into designs and sewn onto clothing.
Beads were also used to decorate the war bonnets of the Plains people.
These glass beads were trade goods brought by Europeans and later shared by settlers from the United States.
Try your hand at beading! Pony beads are easiest to use, for younger students or a first try. A large collection of assorted beads can provide lots of scope for creative practice. Seed beads are the type of bead used in the projects we saw in the museum. A frame beading loom can make a great center.
Pottery is another art form that is well represented at MONAH. The varied shapes, colors, and patterns of the pottery is especially impressive when you consider the limited materials the potters had available.
Use Venn diagrams to compare the Quapaw pottery and the Southwest pottery shown above.
Once again, students can try their hands at making their own pottery. Point out that people all over the world have made pottery by hand or with simple pottery wheels, using their own imaginations and developing traditions that make the pottery from different times and places characteristic of the cultures that made those pots.
Model Magic is the easiest, lightest, and least messy option for getting the concept of what it might be like to make pottery. The kids shown below give greater scope.
Were enjoyed our visit to the MONAH. If you’re in Bentonville, make a visit of your own! You can also enjoy this video tour from the MONAH website: