Our mission, vision and background
Located in Miwok Park, the Museum is devoted to Native American culture and is the only one of its kind in the Bay Area.
The Museum serves as an educational center for over 4,000 elementary children each year. The Native American artifacts and reference materials are irreplaceable and provide a unique opportunity to learn about the local native lifeways. Through the creation of this museum and education center 50 years ago, the Museum of the American Indian continues to serve the general community with our ongoing efforts to collect, conserve, research, exhibit and explain cultural and ethnographic materials, as well as other information related to Native American peoples.
The Museum offers programs for elementary schools that explore the history and culture of Native Americans of California and other regions of the country. These programs fulfill the State of California curriculum for social studies. Other educational programs include seasonal workshops, an upcoming lecture series for adults, traditional storytelling and songs by Natives, in-depth professionally produced exhibitions that explore traditional art forms and annual public events such as the Trade Feast.
The Museum of the American Indian shares with the greater community educational programs and exhibitions that deepen understanding and appreciation of Native American cultures. The Museum promotes accuracy, sensitivity, and respect for the heritage and history of our continent’s earliest inhabitants.
We value a deeper understanding of Native American Cultures
We value efforts to educate, sensitize, and support Native knowledge
We value the preservation of Native Heritage
We value Native exhibits that educate the community
We give voice to Native Americans
We are grateful for the earth –
We are grateful for the sun –
We are grateful for the water –
We are grateful for the food.
-Native American blessing
The Museum was founded in 1967 in response to the rapid development of Marin County. Construction activity in the county unearthed masses of archaeological objects related to the original inhabitants of the region, the Coast Miwok people. The Museum was originally designed to serve as a repository for these materials. Today, the museum still houses a large collection of Coast Miwok artifacts; however, the scope has broadened considerably and its programs and collections represent Native American cultures from across the entire continent. Cultural property on display includes Navajo textiles, Eskimo carvings, Plains beadwork, birch bark baskets, and Northwest Coast masks. These treasures are displayed in the various exhibits to help both adults and children understand and appreciate the diversity and beauty of Native American art and culture.
The Coast Miwok Indians were hunters and gatherers whose ancestors had occupied the area for thousands of years. About 600 village sites have been identified in the area. They were also considered skillful craftsmen in basketry, flint knapping and clamshell bead making.
The Coast Miwok lands covered present-day Novato, Marshall, Tomales, San Rafael, Petaluma, and Bodega. The Southern Pomo people are from the Sebastopol area. Many of the Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo people still live within their ancestral territories. In 2000 the Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo tribes were restored to federally recognized status as The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.