As our country and the University proceed in acknowledging the erasure of much Indigenous history, a reconciliation of this erasure is needed. This effort must center Indigenous perspectives, scholarship, leadership, guidance, and participation to inform new perspectives. This exhibit is intentionally curated with the expertise and contributions of Indigenous Appalachians alongside other scholars of Native American Studies.
The goal of the Indigenous Appalachia exhibit is to increase awareness of Indigenous Appalachian culture in the shared history and present day life of the region, and to recognize continuing injustices faced by Indigenous people through exhibition content, collaborations and outreach.
Exploring Indigenous Appalachia is complex for many reasons, notably due to general misunderstandings of Indigenous histories, and myths generated to justify colonialism and Eurocentrism. These misrepresentations have often been reinforced throughout the education system, and a lack of self-representation in mass media, and non-Natives’ generally limited interaction with Indigenous people and communities. Thus, many accounts continue to marginalize the Peoples of Native North America, perpetuating warped, imagined, and obsolete depictions. Misinformed, resistant social and academic narratives have negative implications, harming contemporary Indigenous people and hampering educational integrity.non-Indigenous people alike.
WVU’s Indigenous Appalachia exhibit is to encourage observing as well as listening, feeling, reflecting, and questioning. Care was taken with regard to how the Indigenous artwork and perspectives can function within this particular educational context. What impressions might be shaped and what values are recognized? The exhibit was curated to honor contemporary Indigenous communities, and their art, processes, and perspectives, thus encouraging viewers to have rich dialogues that invite dismantling centrisms and extend understandings of Indigenous cultures and communities.