Introduction

The people of North America came from many cultures and spoke different languages long before the founding of the United States, even before European contact. In creating the new nation, early leaders envisioned a country that promised opportunity and freedom—but only for some. As the population grew, the people who lived in the United States found ways to negotiate, or work out, what it meant to be American. That negotiation continues. This exhibition explores how the many voices of people in America have shaped our nation.


How did we become US?


Some of Us Were Already Here

Plains Indian Umbilical Charm and Keepsake Presented to President Ulysses S. Grant, 1870s

Plains Indian Umbilical Charm and Keepsake Presented to President Ulysses S. Grant, 1870s

Gift of Chapman Grant

Some of Us Came Here Voluntarily

Statuette of Statue of Liberty, 1880s

Statuette of Statue of Liberty, 1880s

Gift of Richard Butler

Some of Us Were Forcibly Brought Here

Shackles, Puerto Rico, 19th Century

Gift of Teodoro Vidal

View object record

Some of Us Remained In Place as the United States Expanded to Our Land

Retablo Devotional Image of the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe, New Mexico, around 1820

Discover How Diverse Peoples Built A Nation Together