Smithsonian Curator to Lecture on Entangled Histories of U.S. and Indigenous People

News Story categories: Criminology History Sociology and Anthropology
Lecture on entangled histories of U.S. and Indigenous people through a black and white photo of a man with long hair.

Randolph-Macon College will host Paul Chaat Smith, an author and curator at Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, for his lecture “American Amnesia, Entangled Histories, and You” on Tuesday, April 18.

As Smith explains it, his lecture will explore the irony of the ubiquity of American Indian imagery and names in the United States—highways, mountains, cities, sports teams, weapons systems, advertising, and more—when most Americans rarely see actual Indians. Smith’s lecture will explore how the presence of imaginary Indians obscures a deep and complex relationship between the U.S. and the indigenous, and offer new ways of thinking about this practice, ones that moves past common debates over stereotypes and appropriation.

Smith joined the NMAI in 2001, and has organized symposia, exhibitions, and public programs on a variety of topics aimed at exploring American Indian political and cultural space in the 21st century. He organized “Americans,” which opened in January 2018 and is regarded as one of the NMAI’s most successful exhibitions, both with critics and the public. The show was featured on CBS Sunday Morning, the New Yorker, the PBS NewsHour, the Economist, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and many others.

He has presented dozens of lectures, including at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art, Stanford University, and Ohio State University. In 2017, he was selected to give the eleventh Distinguished Critic Lecture by the AICA-USA in New York. Smith’s books, Everything You Know about Indians Is Wrong and Like a Hurricane: the Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee (co-authored with Robert Warrior) are standard texts in U.S. history and native studies courses.

The event will take place in the Dalton Family Dining Room on the second floor of Birdsong Hall at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. A reception with heavy hors d’ouevres will begin at 5 p.m.

This event is proudly presented by the Committee on Assemblies and Special Events, Office of the Chaplain, Student Engagement Center, Department of History, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology, and McGraw-Page Library.