Alabama’s Native American roots on display in new exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A new exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art is taking a closer look at the Native Americans who lived here, as well as how they survived and thrived.

The exhibit, “The Lost Realms of the Moundbuilders,” displays the tools the Muscogee Creek, Porch Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and other tribes used to adapt to the climate and times of famine and drought. It’ll be on display until February.

Mounds like these were constructed as shelter during times of droughts and famine. You can find some still standing in Moundville, Ala.

“If you go down to Moundville and you look at those massive platform mounds that had religious structures on top surrounded by a palisade. These are incredible objects that came from that culture,” said Emily Hanna, curator of the exhibit.

The mounds, among many innovations of the Great Mississippian tribes, was a way for them to adapt to drought and famine – right here in our region.

“In Oklahoma, when there was an incredible period of crisis and drought and famine when there wasn’t enough corn, this figure of a woman was placed inside the hollow chamber to regenerate life,” Hanna said.

It’s an interactive exhibit that also lets you test out your own weaving skills, all with the intention of educating folks on our region’s history.

“To understand who lived here before us and what are the living culture that are tied to this ancient civilization,” Hanna said. “I think it’s important for all of us to know whose land this is and who lived here before.”

This skateboard is an example of how Native American roots tie into modern art within the exhibit.

The exhibit also features tools like arrowheads, freshwater pearls, and jewels. 

“Then there’s the contemporary part of the show where there are living Native American artists who are inspired by the past that make new art that reflects these old traditions of the past,” Hanna said.

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