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Education
NMAI: From saving Indians to honoring them


As a young child, Rick West and his family visited the first Museum of the American Indian in New York City. They found the large collection of George Heye, a wealthy eccentric whose first purchase of an Indian item was "the shirt off some Navajo's back."

Heye was said not to care about Indian people themselves. He came from an era when it was believed Indians would no longer exist.

"The notion was that Indians, if they were to be saved, would have to be saved by ceasing to be Indians," Rick West, a Cheyenne from Oklahoma, tells The Washington Post.

Fast forward 50 years and West, now a lawyer, finds himself the overseer of Heye's vast trove. As director of the National Museum of the American Indian, he's watched the institution become one that is more sensitive to Indian needs.

The new museum opens in Washington, D.C., in September.

Get the Story:
Return of the Native (The Washington Post 3/18)
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Relevant Links:
National Museum of the American Indian - http://www.nmai.si.edu