More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Exploring the Artistry of American Indian Communities at the American Heritage Gallery at EPCOT

Lisa Kanazawa

by , Communications Manager, Walt Disney Imagineering

We’re continuing to honor the cultures and the contributions of Native American and Indigenous communities and tribes throughout Native American Heritage Month. Today we’re shining a spotlight on recently updated content at The American Heritage Gallery, originally opened in 2018 inside the American Adventure Pavilion at EPCOT.

Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art exhibit at EPCOT

Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art showcases authentic, Native artifacts alongside contemporary works of American Indian art which demonstrates examples of cultural traditions which have been passed down through generations.

“We recently added the Comanche/Blackfeet regalia from artist Jayne Myers to the exhibit,” said Assistant Producer Jackie Herrera. “It is amazing to be able to showcase the artistry and culture of each of these different Indian tribes for our guests.”

Items from the Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art exhibit at EPCOT

The Walt Disney Imagineering Collections Management team (who also recently brought to life “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure,” now open at the New Orleans Jazz Museum for a limited time) worked in collaboration with the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C. to bring the current exhibit at EPCOT to life. They also continue to work closely with the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum which is nestled inside the Seminole tribal community.

“This exhibit would not have been possible without our partnerships with the many museums, tribes, and artists featured in the exhibition,” said Curator Deb Van Horn. “These partnerships allowed us to bring the authentic stories to our guests and make sure we are representing the cultures in a respectful and engaging way.”

Items from the Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art exhibit at EPCOT

Through interactive displays and immersive storytelling, Native communities from seven geographic regions – just a sampling of the 574 federally recognized tribes and over 200 state-recognized tribes in the United States – are currently represented in the gallery. Their art represents the richness, depth, and diversity of Native cultures past and present. Some of the featured artists include fashion designer Loren Aragon (Acoma Pueblo), noted doll-maker Glenda McKay (Ingalik-Athabascan) and Juanita Growing Thunder (Assiniboine Sioux) from the Growing Thunder family of Montana.

“It is really an honor for the Walt Disney Imagineering Collections team to be able to help share Native and Indigenous stories with our guests and allow these groups to really see their stories inside the parks for the first time,” said Deb.

Stay tuned for additional updates to come in the new year featuring the Seminole tribe of Florida. We’re telling stories all month long in honor of Native American Heritage Month. Be sure to follow along for more on the blog and on social at @DisneyParks.