Behind the Scenes: American Native!

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Though we are so sad to say goodbye to our Dinosaurs exhibit (which we know you all LOVED), we are so excited to bring American Native to our Museum audience! American Native: First Nations Tales is a story-telling celebration of indigenous cultures, complete with amazing visual aids provided by community members and arranged by our Museum Curator, Lisa Reckon.

Lisa has worked hard to incorporate visual elements, arguably one of the most central parts of the exhibit, following story-telling as the main focus. Let’s learn more about how these visual elements contribute to the oral histories that Indigenous communities are known for!


One of the focuses, if not the main focus, of our new changing gallery is the element of story-telling. Storytelling is a traditional art form which has been practiced for thousands of years in every society and culture known to humankind. For indigenous cultures, storytelling has evolved as an important way of transforming knowledge from one generation to another! Why the focus on storytelling in this gallery? Well, traditional indigenous stories have been passed through folktales, songs, rituals, chants and even artifacts. These oral narratives are critical historical components that pre-date written words! They explain the culture and how it came to be (Scroggie, 2009). IMG_7853Above is one of the many stories available for exploration in this exhibit. It’s important to remember that all stories have a purpose. This story provides us with several themes about community, paying reverence to land and animals, and tells us the importance that corn played in this particular tribe. Each story has many takeaways and we are so excited for our families to read, enjoy, and reflect on each story!




Beadwork is another important and vital part to indigenous cultures that we explore in American Native. The precise and delicate nature of beading makes it special as a decoration and adornment, but did you know they had a deeper purpose? Before there were ways to write, indigenous folks mastered storytelling and the visual aids we use to understand. Beading was an extension of storytelling that could travel, allowing different tribes to not only see art from different regions and exchange ideas, but to communicate historical events through that art. Beadwork is a special, and sacred, craft that is ingrained in the fabric of indigenous society and culture.

To this day, bead work in traditional Native regalia is seen as a very personal and artistic expression of the dancers’ lives, feelings, interests, family and spiritual quest…often elements of the regalia are gifts from Elders or treasured people in the dancers’ lives who they are honoring and are to be worn with pride and responsibility (Belcourt 2010).

Thank you for joining us for this small teaser of the visual elements in our new exhibit, American Native: First Nations Tales! We hope that you join us when our exhibit opens to celebrate the rich culture of our First Nations people.

We express our deepest gratitude to those who have allowed us to showcase their collections in our Museum for American Native: First Nations Tales. We honor the stories that are represented in our gallery and hope that our museum community cherish them as well.

For more information, please visit:

Works Cited:

Belcourt, Christi. 2010. Beadwork : First Peoples’ beading history and techniques. Owen Sound, Ont: Ningwakwe Learning Press.
Scroggie, A. M. (2009). Preserving tradition and enhancing learning through youth storytelling. Journal of Bhutan Studies, 20, 7692.


Backyard Bug Safari

For today’s Bug Week activity, we’re taking you on a safari in your own backyard (or other outdoor space).

No special tools needed, though a magnifying glass, spoon/small shovel, and a container to hold your critters are nice to have.

This is a great time to practice your observation and inquiry skills. Questions like “Why do you think it has so many legs?” and “What do you think that ladybug eats?” will help your child build language, vocabulary, and STEM skills to benefit them in school- and beyond!

*Remember to be gentle with the critters that you find, and release them after you are finished observing them!*



Don’t let that cute coloration fool you! These insects are predators who can often be found eating aphids on plants.

There are over 6,000 species of ladybugs (also called ladybird beetles) around the world. They come in many different patterns and colors.

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Like butterflies, their “babies” hatch out of eggs as larva. After about two weeks, the larva undergo metamorphosis and emerge as the small, brightly-colored insect that we are familiar with!


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Pillbugs (also called sowbugs or roly polys) are actually a type of crustacean! Unlike their shrimp and lobster cousins, pillbugs have adapted to live on land. They have gills to breathe and are usually found in moist areas like under rocks or potted plants.

These critters are known for their ability to roll into a ball when disturbed. They eat dead and decaying plant material like fallen leaves- think of them as one of nature’s recyclers!


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Ants are one of our favorite insects! Observe two ants meeting on an ant trail- if you look closely, you’ll see that their antennas are moving rapidly or even touching each other. This is how ants “talk”! They release small bursts of chemicals (pheremones) to communicate to their sisters.

Ants live in a large group called a colony. The colony works together to collect food, fight off invaders, and take care of their babies.

Ants are incredibly strong and can carry 50 times their own body weight- pretty amazing for a humble little insect!


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Butterflies are one of our most beloved insects. With their bright-colored wings, it’s easy to see why!

All butterflies have a 4 stage life cycle: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa, and adult butterfly. Caterpillars eat plant leaves, while the adults sip nectar and occasionally eat a bit of flower pollen.

You can help butterflies where you live by growing plants like milkweed for monarch caterpillars, or pollinator plants such as zinnias, lantana, sunflowers, and yarrow. And please, avoid using pesticides and herbicides if you can!


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These long-legged flies are sometimes called mosquito hawks, but they do not eat mosquitos, nor do they bite people!

These delicate and harmless flies spend the first part of their life as larva underground, feeding on roots and decaying plants. Come springtime, they emerge and can be found flying around outside or hanging under leaves. If they come into your house, simply place a cup over them and transfer them outside.

We hope you enjoy your Bug Safari! Please leave a comment below and let us know what you found!