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Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People

About the Exhibit

This electronic presentation documents the exhibition Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People. The exhibition was on display at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution April 30, 1999 through January 2, 2000.

Like many native peoples, the Ainu of Northern Japan call themselves by a name that asserts their identity. Although their traditional way of life, which prospered through skillful hunting and fishing and widespread trade, has not withstood centuries of outside cultural and economic pressures, the Ainu have maintained their sense of what being Ainu means.

Beautiful craftsmanship, a rich oral tradition, and complex rituals intimately linked to nature have survived. Today, a remarkable revival of Ainu culture is gathering force, and Ainu artists are bringing a new vitality to time-honored traditions. This exhibition was the first to celebrate both the contemporary expression of Ainu ethnicity and the experiences of the Ainu past.

Exhibit Team
In addition to the funders who made the exhibition possible, the museums, groups and individuals who lent the objects, and the Ainu elders who consulted, the following people contributed significantly to the exhibition.

William Fitzhugh, Curator Dr. Fitzhugh is the Curator of Arctic Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution and the director of the Arctic Studies Center. Dr. Fitzhugh is one of the world's foremost experts in arctic anthropology and has published widely.

Chisato (Kitty ) Dubreuil, Curator Ainu born, Chisato (Kitty) Dubreuil's scholarly pursuits include the arts and culture of not only her people but the Japanese, the Indigenous people of North America, and those of the North Pacific Rim. She is currently at the University of British Columbia, Department of Art History.

Masahiro Nomoto, Artist Builder and Consultant Masahiro Nomoto is an Ainu curator at the Ainu Museum in Shiraoi, Hokkaido, Japan. Using traditional Ainu methods and tools Mr. Nomoto carved the canoe model and the inaw at the Smithsonian Institution during the summer of 1998. He also built the Ainu house or chise and consulted on the exhibit.

David Dubreuil, Project Manager David Dubreuil, of mixed blood Mohawk and Huron heritage, has had an extensive career working on social and environmental issues facing the Indigenous peoples of North America, and the Ainu.

Robert Sullivan, Director of Public Programs, NMNH

Margaret Stoller, Director of Special Exhibits, NMNH

Joseph Madeira, Special Exhibits, NMNH

Elisabeth Ward, Curatorial assistant, Arctic Studies, NMNH

Exhibit Design services provided by The Douglas|Group, Washington, DC

CD Design and Development:
S2N Media, Inc.and Timreck Productions

At various stages the exhibit received important scholarly assistance from Kogi Deriha, Adria Katz, Laurel Kendall, Yoshinobu Kotani, Josef Kreiner, Kazuyoshi Ohtsuka, Emiko Onuki- Tierny, Amy Poster, Tashikazu Sasaki, Kazuyoshi Tanimoto, Hiroshi Ushiro, Kiyoshi Yamaura.

We would also like to acknowledge:

Hanako Matano
Karoku Miwa
Akio Oshima
Takashi Ito
Yasunobu Ishii
Hayato Ogo
Kazuyoshi Takahashi
Naotoshi Kimura
Norio Mino
Susumi Tameoka
Jiro Sasamura
Noriko Kawamura
Kenichi Kawamura
Takeki Fujito
Kazuo Sunazawa
Chinita Sanazawa
Akira Toko
Mitsunori and Tomoko Keira
Mari Kodama
Kan Wada
Shin Mori
Makoto Kawakami

Sasakawa Peace Foundation
Utari Kyokai (The Ainu Association of Hokkaido)
Asahikawa City Museum
Hokkaido Archaeological and Cultural Remains Investigation Center
Hokkaido Asahikawa Museum of Art
Hokkaido Museum of Contemporary Art
Otoineppu Village Office,
and All the Ainu people who helped with this project

Plain Text Opening | About the Exhibit | Map | Resources | Acknowledgements
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