The mission of the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum (MKIM), located in Warner, New Hampshire, is to serve as “a living center for artistic expression, traditional values, and contributions from past and contemporary Native life.”
In contrast to many Native American museums, which focus on a single tribe, the museum has seven different regional galleries that represent tribes from all over North America. Plus, MKIM is much more than a typical museum, hosting a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages, including hands-on workshops, lectures, and family-friendly events.
Recent events include Snow Snake races, MKIM’s Intertribal Powwow, and many other examples such as poetry readings, special exhibits, and discussions of books by Native authors. Snow Snake is a Native American game where a track is built out of snow and players slide decorated sticks—the snakes—down the track to see whose snake slithers farthest. Powwows, an annual tradition for MKIM, are traditional Native American festivals that include singing, dancing, socializing, education about native traditions, and arts and crafts. MKIM’s annual Powwow attracts around 3,500 visitors and participants.
In the New Hampshire education system, Native American history is part of the curriculum for third-grade students. Each year, MKIM welcomes New Hampshire schools and hosts field trips for more than 7,500 students to experience the museum. Andy Bullock, Executive Director, talked about the impact of exposing young people to events at MKIM: “The kids are always very excited to come to the museum. We had a student come to one of our stargazing events who told us it was the first time they’d ever been outside in the dark! We are honored to have been a part of that learning experience.”
MKIM recently embarked on a sustainable energy project that focuses on reducing the carbon footprint of the organization. MKIM is trying to honor the Native American philosophy of “walking lightly on the earth” by installing solar panels on the roof to power all the Museum’s electric needs and installing heat pumps for heating and cooling the building, eliminating the creation of greenhouse gases. The Mascoma Bank Foundation helped make this project possible.
Laura Colcord, Chair of the Board of Trustees, emphasized that a key message of the Museum is that “there are hundreds of different groups of Native Americans, with different environments, cultures, ways of thinking and of living. Native Americans have been on this continent for more than 13,000 years and have learned important lessons about living in harmony with a wide range of environments. With today’s challenges, we can undoubtedly benefit from this rich store of diverse knowledge.”