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Wendy Red Star exhibit remembers historic Indian Congress in Omaha

Posted at 3:37 PM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 16:37:16-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — “You know, in general, Native American history is left out of textbooks, it’s left out of our schooling, and Wendy’s work really brings these histories to light,” said Annika Johnson, Associate Curator of Native American Art at the Joslyn Art Museum.

Johnson says the exhibit by Montana-based artist Wendy Red Star showcases a part of Omaha’s past that is often overlooked.

“To create this installation, Wendy worked with historic photographs that are located at the Omaha Public Library. They depict Native American individuals who traveled to Omaha in 1898. They came here to attend an event called the Indian congress,” said Johnson.

Coinciding with the Omaha World’s Fair, the Indian Congress brought 35 native nations to the city and hundreds of Native Americans who were photographed by a man named Frank Rinehart.

After a research trip to Omaha, Red Star ultimately decided to use replica photos to create an exposition booth, metaphorically reuniting the congress.

“She was fascinated with these historical expo booths and she wanted to bring light to some of the historical tensions at the time given this century of really awful federal Indian policy,” said Johnson.

Red Star, who is a member of the Crow tribe, shows off her storytelling skill in the exhibit, connecting Omaha to its Indigenous past.

“You really get drawn in and start asking questions. Who were these individuals... and you can start to see family groups, the delegations are all organized by native nation. So it’s this really this great experience and close looking and it’s very rewarding to spend time here,” said Johnson.

The Wendy Red Star exhibition is on display through April 25 and is included in free general admission. Timed ticketing reservations and masks are required at the museum.

See more information here.

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