First Nations: The Story of Indiana’s Founding People

Through interactive elements, you’ll better understand how ancestors of today’s Native Americans built vibrant communities focused around many aspects that still cement cultures today: games, food and traditions passed down through generations. First Nations tells the story of these founding people as ancestors who remain a part of living Native American communities today.

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Expressions in Art

See some of the finest examples of Native American artwork, from birdstones and effigy pipes to pieces of modern art.

Learn by Listening Icon

Learn by Listening

Hear the Potawatomi story, ‘Why the Bear has a Short Tail,’ told by a Potawatomi story teller and illustrated by a Miami artist.

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Slice of Life

Watch a scene unfold in life-size silhouette as a mother teaches her daughter how to make pottery, and a young man excites a crowd of game players as he makes his powerful ‘chunky’ stone throw.

Smell what's cooking

Smell What's Cooking

Explore Native American culinary traditions and see a cooking show where a Shawnee cook prepares her favorite family recipe, grape dumplings.

First Nations illustration


Here, you’ll discover how Pre-Columbian Native Americans developed successful, strong communities and view artifacts from our archaeology collection, including a 10,000-year-old Clovis point and 2,000-year-old pottery! Come out and learn how the Potawatomi used stars for navigation, then touch a 3D-printed mud daub and feel the hand imprints of these native people. Finally, visitors of all ages can become part of the story by stepping into a life-size projection of Native Americans using ordinary objects like chunky stones and ceramic pots in their daily lives.

the big dig at the Mann site

How do we know information about people who lived 1,700 years ago at the Mann Site in southwestern Indiana? From the items they left behind!

Watch more videos from our collection