21 May 2009

Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian in DC

The Museum
I had heard some good things about the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) from some folks in my program and was excited to check it out. We had spent some time at the American history and natural history museums the day before and Kea and I liked the NMAI a lot better. First off, the building was gorgeous--very unique. When you go inside, it's just breathtaking. It was especially interesting for us (and probably other Hawai'i folks) because of the way they incorporated Native Hawaiian stuff. It's really interesting that they did that actually because other than that, it was all about indigenous people in the Americas--including Canada, U.S., South America. If you think about it, Hawaiians are only "American" in that the U.S. owns the islands, so it was interesting to think about how decisions were made.

There was a temporary exhibit on comic art, which we really enjoyed. And I bet it gets a lot of young people interested too, which I think is great. This was one of the first things we looked at and I really started to understand that this museum was not going to be freaky about "authenticity."

Another cool exhibit was a section about the writing of history and how histories are constructed to tell certain stories. And another was about how "Indians" are defined, which talked about blood quantum and the problems with that.

The food
But anyway, the food. It was cafeteria style, with 5-6 sections reflecting different regions. There was a Pacific northwest region with salmon, for example. We had a fry bread taco (from the Plains section I think) and pupusas, a tamale, and empanadas (can't remember what this section was called). Everything was great! I really liked the cheese pupusa because the cheese got all crispy. I was only a little disappointed in the tamale, but it could have been because we had so much food--I felt it was the same as the pupusa but in different shape. The fry bread taco had a lot of lettuce and tomatoes on it. It was my first time having fry bread and I heard it was very unhealthy; I don't know if it always comes with so many veggies, but the one at the NMAI at least doesn't seem too unhealthy.

I also had the spicy hot chocolate. There was also agua fresca which I wanted to try but even after two days eating in the NMAI, I never got around to that!

The prices were a little high but since we cannot get fry bread, pupusas, and empanadas very often, it was definitely worth it.


At 11:13 AM , Blogger Julie said...

Maybe a better name for the NMAI would be the Museum of American Imperialism. ;) Still, I guess it's amazing that Native people are acknowledged at all in D.C., huh?

I think there's a monthly Native American festival at Thomas Square and one of the booths serves fry bread. I'm not so sure about the availability of pupusas here, though.


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