From 2010 to 2013 I worked with a group of European immigrants and Native Americans around the construction of a replica Eastern Woodland Indian longhouse at the 1719 Hans Herr House in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Being honest about U.S. history is difficult. It's complex. It's messy. Some facts are lost. Some are repulsive. Compelling stories have their own inertia. Some facts are easier to deny than to own.
These fragments came churning back at me when I rounded a unassuming corner of the American Museum of Natural History and found myself face to face with American Indians in display cases.
Yes, they are beautifully sculpted figures that introduce me to tribes I would otherwise know nothing about. Yes, the displays themselves are historically interesting. And yes, there is something disquieting about seeing human figures in cabinets.
I did not find the European immigrant dioramas.