To market its historic 175th anniversary, the National Library of Medicine launches an historically massive journey of understanding to present the exhibition Native Voices: Native Peoples Concepts of Health and Illness.
Outside, the centerpiece and beacon inviting all to partake of the exhibition is the healing totem, once a fallen tree in the forest of Washington State transformed into an object of native artistry and reverence.
The pole is not sacred. What is sacred is you. The pole is just a symbol and a cause comes together. Just like the exhibit in the NLM. It brings us together in a oneness. And that's what we seek, that oneness.
In the NLM lobby, joining the totem in a symbolic journey to healing, through pride, tradition and belief is a fully detailed, scale model replica of the legendary ocean-going Hawaiian canoe Hokulea.
For a significant number of people that know Hokulea and what it symbolizes in terms of Hawaii's history and heritage, and its culture it has to do with everything with one's spirit with one's sense of pride. It has to do with an identity that's meaningful and powerful, and so the canoe became gravity to those who wanted to hold onto something that's special to our land.
At the exhibition opening in October 2011, Indian dancers retraced the footfalls of ancestral warriors young and old and women in elaborately decorated buckskins telling once again the saga of ancestral heritage and a living spirituality.
It's really regaining a sense of pride and importance and a sense of history.
As an educator, I find this remarkable about the potential of what this is going to do not just in healthcare, but in educating the American public about American Indian, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians. We're still here. We're still alive and well. There is great beauty in our respective cultures. We have trauma. We have disparity, but there is so much more goodness in what is going on.
At the heart of the exhibition are nearly 100 individual interviews as NLM Director Dr. Donald Lindberg gleans the wisdom and expertise of Native physicians and traditional healers, tribal and community leaders, elders, the clergy, and students.
Regardless of what anybody says, Native people still exist. They still have their beliefs. They still practice their religions. They still practice their healing practices both on reservations and in cities, and that's a tremendous accomplishment when you think about it.
And that's why I'm real excited about you, Dr. Lindberg, making this film because I think this is part of your incredible journey and legacy. I think you were born to make this film and to tell the world about Native Americans
and the healing that's there.
And the exhibition is officially open.
Native Voices: Native Concepts of Health and Illness, a multimedia exhibition where visitors of all ages awaits you now at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. Open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except federal holidays, and the admission is free.