You don't have to spend more than a few minutes hanging around the Native American Dioramas in Transition Exhibit at the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum to see several children run up excitedly, thump up onto the ledge in their big snow boots, and squeal, “Ewwww, they’re naked! Why are they naked?”
A tired parent struggles to explain—or not—leaving the children to figure it out for themselves - “They must be really poor,” “They must not know any better,” or “That’s their culture.” There are no Native American doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers, architects, librarians, activists, or astronauts depicted.
It is not difficult to understand the hurt these diaramas must have caused Native American children seeing the exhibits with their classmates during the fourth grade Native American social studies unit, or how easily misperceptions and stereotypes are perpetuated.
I can feel it, too. Imagine if it was you and your family depicted there - tiny, naked, nerdy, weird, frozen in time. And all your friends and random strangers, looming giants overhead, pointing and laughing from on high about all the things that set you apart as different. (click on link for more)
Last chance to see the 'Native American Dioramas in Transition' exhibit at University of Michigan museum - AnnArbor.com