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Art in the Libraries receives a WV Humanities Council grant for Indigenous Appalachia exhibit

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 3rd, 2022

WVU Libraries recently received an award notification for a West Virginia Humanities Council major grant for an upcoming exhibit, Indigenous Appalachia. The exhibition will be displayed at WVU Downtown Library and virtually from August 2022 through May 2023 before traveling to WVU Beckley Library, Appalachian State University Library and Marshall University Library.

The exhibit will also become a digital exhibit available on the WVU Libraries’ website and archived on the Research Repository at WVU.

The goal of the exhibition is to increase awareness of the contributions made by Indigenous Appalachians to the region both historically and contemporarily, while recognizing the continuing injustices faced by Indigenous people.

“Most Americans do not know about Indigenous culture, from history to today, but they are a large part of America’s fabric. Invisibility is a modern form of bias,” WVU Libraries Exhibits Coordinator Sally Brown said. “With this exhibit, we hope to both acknowledge the contradictions in the Indigenous histories of our areas and in our collections, and highlight Indigenous stories, perspectives and successes, all curated in collaboration with Indigenous advisement.”

Through visuals and educational content, the exhibit will explore themes: European colonial history and U.S policies contributing to centuries of genocidal acts; an exploration of public discussions and portrayals of Indigenous culture; contemporary Indigenous Appalachians and their ancestry, perspectives, and creative work by Indigenous artists and scholars; WVU Libraries’ Indigenous related holdings; and Indigenous place names in West Virginia.

The exhibition, in partnership with WVU Native American Studies and WVU Humanities Center, will provide significant opportunities for campus and community involvement via coursework and programming, encouraging informed and enhanced perspectives.

As our nation and the University proceed in acknowledging the erasure of much of Indigenous history, it is understood that a reconciliation of this erasure can only be accomplished with Indigenous scholars’ leadership, guidance, and participation. This exhibit is curated with the expertise and contribution of Indigenous Appalachians, alongside Native American Studies scholars.

Scholarly Consultants include: Joe Stahlman, Director, Seneca-Iroquois National Museum Assistant Research Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, University at Buffalo; Bonnie Brown, Coordinator and Teaching Instructor, WVU Native American Studies Program; Beth Toren, Interdisciplinary, Cultural and Film Studies Librarian, WVU Libraries; Michael Sherwin, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Photography, WVU College of Creative Arts; Richard Anderson, Senior Executive Assistant to the President, WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Maryam Marne Zafar, Visual Strategist, Graphic Designer Consulting. WVU Libraries Exhibits Coordinator Sally Brown is leading curation of the project.

Eight Indigenous artists from various Indigenous Appalachian tribes are currently participating. Artists and committee members are fluid and growing.

Sponsors will play an important role in the support of Indigenous artists and scholars, Indigenous designers, exhibition installation, events, publicity, and programming. Sponsors are recognized in highly visible ways at various levels. For more information on Sponsorship Opportunities, check out Indigenous Appalachia’s page on the WVU Libraries website.

If you have any questions, reach out to Sally Brown, WVU Libraries’ Exhibits Coordinator at 304.293.0369, or via email at

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