COOS BAY — A new exhibit premiered at the Coos History Museum on Thursday afternoon to honor Native Americans who served in the U.S. armed forces.
The traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, titled Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces, details the involvement of Native Americans who served in the U.S. military in every U.S. conflict dating back to the Revolutionary War.
Coos History Museum director Susan Tissot said, “The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian put this exhibit together. It has a national focus.”
The exhibit will run from March 2 to April 29.
Thursday’s opening reception for the Patriot Nations exhibit saw around 100 attendees.
Drumming and song from the Coquille tribe’s Nasomah Singers opened the reception. The singers were followed by a posting of the colors ceremony performed by the United States Honor Guard.
After the performance, an invocation was given by Chief Warren Brainard of the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians.
The Invocation was followed by a quick speech by Chief Don Ivy of the Coquille Tribe.
“One of the things that the Coquille tribe wanted to accomplish in its contribution to the museum was to have a facility locally here that we could bring other exhibits to from other museums. This is the first demonstration of that,” Ivy said.
Members of the Tribal Council for both the Confederated Tribes and the Coquille tribe were in attendance.
Coos History Museum is housing the Patriot Nations exhibit upstairs in its mezzanine gallery. Detailed posters line the sides of the gallery and discuss Native American Heroes like Ira Hayes, and the Navajo Code Talkers.
“All the issues the exhibit talks about like why Native Americans served is very relevant to the whole country. We just felt it was really important to get people to think about who is in the community and what experiences they might bring to the community,” Tissot said.
To localize the exhibits message the Coquille and Confederated Tribes each created their own posters that sit at the front of the gallery and highlight local Native Americans who have served in the military. The Coquille Tribe’s poster feature 29 local Native American veterans, 15 of the names were accompanied with the picture. On the Confederated Tribes poster there are a total of 42 local Native American veterans shown.
“It’s important to help people understand there were a lot of Native Americans who served in the U.S. military, this is not a new thing,” Tissot said.
According to Tissot, the exhibit will change throughout the month. Some of the information that is currently up will be replaced with different information throughout the two months it’s being shown.
“This is a traveling museum from the Smithsonian. It’s here because we meet the standards and criteria and that’s what we wanted to accomplish. That’s what the tribe committed itself to. Being a partner with the community allows us to celebrate the community in a bigger way,” Ivy said.
Coos History Museum will be featuring several traveling exhibits in the following months including, a photo series on Oregon female veterans called I’m not Invisible, a Coast Guard painting exhibit, and an exhibit on the tattoos of veterans and the meanings behind them.