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Category Archives: Museum

Information posted here collects in the right hand column of the Museum webpage as well as on the Tribal website’s “In The News” page. The post automatically posts to the Museum’s Facebook page.

Meskwaki Holiday Expo is coming December 6th-8th

Don’t miss your chance to #BuyNative for the holiday season. Celebrate and support Native artists and encourage local entrepreneurship by purchasing products from the Meskwaki Holiday Expo coming up this weekend!

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Museum Hosts Summer Workshops

Yesterday evening at the museum volunteers cleaned the last 9 bundles of cattail reeds: Crystal Davis(not pictured), David Grant, LeAnn Morgan, Bess Scott, Nina Young Bear and myself (not pictured). We are hoping to begin the next step of tying the ends, next week.

Ketebi to everyone that helped last night, the time went by fast with good conversation and plenty of laughter!

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Distinguished Service Award Recognition


2017-2018 Distinguished Service Outside the Profession Award Winner

West Des Moines, IA — The Art Educators of Iowa is pleased to announce Mary E. Young Bear of the Meskwaki Tribal Museum, Tama Iowa is our award winner for 2017-2018 Distinguished Service Outside the Profession Award Winner. This prestigious award, determined through a peer review of nominations, recognizes outstanding achievement and contributions in previous years to the field of art education at the elementary level.  The award will be presented at the AEI Conference to be held October 6 & 7 in West Des Moines, IA.

Mary E. Young Bear is an active art education supporter, an invaluable mentor and an amazing artist.  Mary was an integral part of the Art Educators of Iowa 2014 Fall Conference hosted in part by the Meskwaki Settlement School.  She was instrumental in securing local artists to speak and perform through the conference.  In addition, she conducted a presentation on beadwork and answered inquiries about the culture.  She provided context to the work and strived to help art teachers understand appropriate ways to include Native American culture in their classrooms.

Mary is always willing to step into the classroom and workswith high school students in the art room and family consumer classes.  She demonstrates the intricacies of beadwork, printmaking techniques and shares artifacts and history from the Meskwaki Tribal Museum.  As a community leader she works with students of all ages from elementary through adult.

Julie K. Bousum nominated Mary for this award.  “She has served as an active school board member and is currently using her leadership skills as a school board chairperson. She mentors many art teachers and community members, including myself.   In addition to her work at the Meskwaki Tribal Museum, she is an amazing artist. She is always willing to demonstrate and share her experiences at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and has recently completed a two week artist-in-residence at the Denver Art Museum.

Mary E. Young Bear is a valued member of the Meskwaki Community.  She works for the benefit of its members and is dedicated to preserving and expanding the arts, especially for its youngest members.  Mary is generous with her time and talents in sharing information about the Meskwaki culture with educators outside the tribe and is truly a worthy recipient of the Distinguished Service Outside the Profession award.”

Upon receipt of her award, Mary responded, “To be recognized by AEI award committee is a very unexpected honor, and one I would like to accept on behalf of the Meskwaki Nation.  My position at the Meskwaki Cultural Center and Museum allows me to share our culture not only with the youth within our community, but the larger community that surrounds our home.  It is my hope this sharing creates a deeper appreciation of the Meskwaki history and culture.  Thank you!”

AEI is the professional association for art educators across the state of Iowa and is affiliated with the National Art Education Association (NAEA).  Members include elementary, secondary, middle level and high school art teachers; university and college professors; education directors who oversee education in our nation’s fine art museums, administrators and supervisors who oversee art education in school districts, state departments of education, arts councils; and teaching artists throughout the United States and many foreign countries.

For more information about AEI/NAEA and our awards program visit the AEI website at

Contact Information:

Shanise Brockshus Art Educators of Iowa Past President / Awards Chair  (712) 330-3204

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Charles City Art Center Displays Meskwaki Artworks

During the month of August, the Charles City Art Center displayed artwork from the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa and hosted a reception on August 19th.

See the entire article and information from the Charles City Press article by Kate Hayden below or visit their site HERE.


There isn’t really a broad word for “art” in the Meskwaki tribal language as there is with the English language.

“It’s always having somebody that can do ‘this’ — somebody’s good at carving, somebody’s good at beading, somebody is good at painting or making things,” tribal member Mary Young Bear said. “We look at them as gifts from the Creator … We make our world better from this.”

For the first time, some artwork from the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa will be on display at the Charles City Arts Center. Pieces by established artists, students, and heirloom family pieces are all featured, said Young Bear, Registrar and Community Outreach director for the Meskwaki Historic Preservation Department.

“There will be a nice collection of things that are part of our culture, our secular culture, that we can share,” Young Bear said.

It is the first time the Meskwaki tribe — and the Charles City Arts Center — has partnered in such an exhibit. The display will continue through August, with a reception at the Charles City Arts Center scheduled for Aug. 19.

Meskwaki singers and dancers will be at the Arts Center during ArtaFest that day, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The tribe will be sharing shorter versions of traditional powwow performances.

“It’s a reflection of our traditional ways … These are songs and dances that we learn as children, and we carry them on and pass them on to our own children,” Young Bear said. “I’m hoping that people that come to see these songs and dances will appreciate the culture and the history of the tribe.”

The Meskwaki Nation has a unique history among native American tribes: after a series of wars and land concessions from 1701 to the 1850s, Meskwaki tribal leaders purchased 80 acres of land in Tama County from the U.S. government in 1857. The tribe continued to grow the Meskwaki Settlement to more than 8,100 acres of privately owned property over the years — not as an Indian Reservation regimented by federal government.

The tribe celebrates it’s 103rd Meskwaki Annual Powwow in Tama County, Aug. 10-13, which is open to the public.

“I know there’s a lot of people that aren’t even aware there is a tribe living in Iowa. We are trying to educate people,” Young Bear said.

Some of the pieces included at the Arts Center are by the late Leonard Young Bear, a master drawer who depicted people of Native American tribes from the 1960s-1980s. The show will also include work from students at the Meskwaki settlement school — including pottery, drawings and computer illustrations.

Much of the traditional artwork carries a reflection of the natural world — a tradition that educators on the Meskwaki settlement are now passing on to their students.

“As they get older, they come to the museum and we talk about how their ancestors created their designs by just going out into nature, going outside — taking a blade of grass and really looking at it, you find different color combinations that surprise you. They’re unexpected,” Young Bear said. “Once they start seeing things like that and looking at it from that point of view, it’s pretty amazing to see what they do.”

Meskwaki crafters exercising their creative gifts consider “Walking in two worlds … It’s a spiritual world and this world we’re in now,” Young Bear said. “If you look at our art, a lot of it is split in half. They mirror each other. We find that balance, and it’s something that we’re really starting to talk about now.”

Young Bear and her colleagues are bringing that discussion to the forefront on Columbus Day, Oct. 9, during the first public art and culture symposium. More details on the event are online at

“We titled it with a Meskwaki term that translates it into ‘Those That Make Beautiful Things,’” she said. “There’ll be an art gallery, there’ll be demonstrations, there’ll be speakers during the day.”

The tribe had hosted a previous symposium in 2015 that invited scholars of the tribe’s history, but this year’s event is specifically art and culture, Young Bear said.

“It’s my hope that this will empower artists to feel like they can say they’re artists,” she said. “Right now, they’re very humble … I want them to recognize the value of what they do.”


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