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Mapuche Drum, c 1920, Chile, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

This spotlight celebrates the rich and varied musical traditions of Native American cultures by highlighting some of the musical resources and collections objects cared for by the Smithsonian Institution. 

Native American Music Exhibitions

Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture

August 4, 2012–August 11, 2013 
The National Museum of the American Indian in New York

July 1, 2010–January 2, 2011
​National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

This panel and object exhibition highlights Native people who have been active participants in contemporary music for nearly a century. Musicians like Russell "Big Chief" Moore (Gila River Indian Community), Rita Coolidge (Cherokee), Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree), and the group Redbone are a few of the Native performing artists who have had successful careers in popular music. Many have been involved in various forms of popular music—from jazz and blues to folk, country, and rock. Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture tells their stories and histories, and provides visitors the opportunity to hear samples by music greats and discover musicians with whom those exceptional musicians collaborated. Visitors will also learn about artists who inspired the musical greats as well as the contemporary artists they themselves influenced.

Visit the exhibition information page for links to the press release and related NMAI blog posts.

Circle of Dance

October 6, 2012–October 8, 2017
The National Museum of the American Indian in New York


Consistent across time and cultures is the use of the body to communicate and express—to tell stories, participate in the cycles of nature, mourn, pray, and celebrate. Throughout the Americas music and dance have always been an essential part of the spiritual, cultural, and social lives of Native peoples.

Click here to visit the exhibition website...