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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

New Sequoyah National Research Center exhibit focuses on stereotypes

The UALR Sequoyah National Research Center (SNRC) will open the exhibit, “Toy Tipis and Totem Poles: Native American Stereotypes in the Lives of Children,” in September.

"Ten Little Indians" spinning top for SNRC exhibit

Fig. 83.197: Ten little Indians spinning top; Photography by George Chambers

The exhibit will open beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5, and run through Dec. 19. Held in the Dr. J.W. Wiggins Native American Art Gallery, the purpose of the event is to create awareness of the variety of native cultures and the achievements of contemporary American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The exhibit comes from the Hirschfelder-Molin Native American Stereotypes Collection, a collection of more than 1,500 museum objects and archival documents, possibly the largest such collection in the world.

The items were donated to SNRC in 2012 by Arlene Hirschfelder and Paulette Molin, professional educators and authors with decades-long experience in Native American education and Native American studies. SNRC archivist Erin Fehr will curate the exhibit with Hirschfelder, Molin, and SNRC staff.

The exhibit will highlight the areas of the collection dealing with children and Native American stereotypes omnipresent in the lives of American children.

fig 1

Fig. 83.161: Cleveland Indian Chief Wahoo, Rempel Mascot Rubber Squeak Toy; Photography by George Chambers

By examining childhood objects – dolls, toys, books, games, clothing, sports memorabilia – the exhibit will create awareness of the inculcation of the images and the difficulty of changing mainstream thinking about Native American stereotypes.

In addition to presenting the stereotypes themselves, positive images and responses from Native people will be presented as an alternative.

UALR’s Sequoyah National Research Center is dedicated to the collection and preservation of all forms of Native American expression. Located in the University Plaza, SNRC has served as an archive for Native Americans for more than 30 years. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information contact Erin Fehr at ehfehr@ualr.edu or 501.569.8336.