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Several Omaha, Oglala and Sioux tribes items on loan from the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Exhibit part of numerous bicentennial plans

As part of Fort Atkinson’s bicentennial year theme of "When the Troops Meet the Native Americans," the fort’s visitors center recently received numerous Native American artifacts from a variety of organizations and historians.

Nearly the entire north room of the center — 11 displays — has, or will soon have, new artifacts from educators and Sicangu Lakota Tribe members Steve Tamayo and Paul High Horse or organizations like the Nebraska State Historical Society, Ash Hollow State Historical Park, Buffalo Bill State Historical Park and Washington County Museum.

"This exhibit has been converted into mainly Native American fur trade," Park Superintendent Jason Grof said. "This is the first time we've done a major renovation of our displays. We've added things here or there, but we've never done it to this extreme."

Grof said the state historical park's goal for the future is to have rotating exhibits to provide continued variety for visitors. Following the Native American exhibit, he said the visitors center plans to have a Pearl Harbor display.

"Our goal is to increase visitation to the park, visitors center," Grof said. "We want to make sure we can do different displays like this and bring in more people."

From now until November, visitors can view and learn about various Omaha, Oglala and Sioux tribes, artifacts and lifestyles in addition to other frontier displays.

Some displays have Sioux purses, drums and more made by Tamayo, who is a traditional arts professor with Metropolitan Community College in Omaha.

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Artist, teacher and member of the Sicangu Lakota Tribe Steve Tamayo has several handmade items on display at Fort Atkinson including this one concerning the "Responsibilities for the Women."

An authentic artifact display on loan from the Nebraska State Historical Society features moccasins, dolls, amulets, spoons and bows from the Omaha, Oglala and Sioux tribes.

Besides the exhibit, Fort Atkinson will also host numerous events throughout the summer to celebrate its bicentennial.

Some events include a “War Dance and Gourd Dance of the Umonhon Nation,” led by Tamayo, on Aug. 4 and 5 at the fort.

Eagle T. Knife Chief — a descendent of a member of the Pawnee tribe who signed the Treaty of Friendship at Fort Atkinson in 1825 — will be at the fort the same weekend to give a short presentation about the Pawnee meeting American soldiers.

The Smithsonian exhibit “Patriot Nations: Native Americans in our Armed Forces,” which emphasizes Native Americans contributions to the United States military conflicts from the French and Indian War to current times, will also be on display during July and August.

"It's a banner display that represents every battle that has ever been fought and represents the tribes that have fought in the battles," Grof said.

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