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August 22, 2014

Daniel Inouye Gets Cornered on the National Mall (Video)

Daniel Inouye Gets Cornered on the National Mall (Video)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The National Museum of the American Indian  is paying tribute to the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, a proud Pacific Islander who served as one of the founding directors for the interactive exhibition hall, as part of its “Living Aloha” festival.

Just don’t expect too big of a production if you visit.

Upon entering the funky, four-story structure, patrons are handed a snazzy brochure retracing the steps of the iconic Hawaii Democrat through the years.

Daniel Inouye Gets Cornered on the National Mall (Video)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The lobby, however, is dominated by a ring of arts and crafts stations dedicated to sharing native art forms with curious onlookers.

And the main stage was, at least on Friday, reserved for hula dancing, legend-spewing Moses Goods, of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Surely the Inouye love has to be around here somewhere, right?

For God’s sake, the World War II veteran, long-standing lawmaker and Asian-American role model spent more than half a century on Capitol Hill; several decades were occupied by stints on the Indian Affairs Committee and influential Appropriations panel.

Per the accompanying placard, Inouye’s widow, Irene Hirano Inouye, donated the one-of-a-kind keepsakes (“only a small fraction of what Sen. Inouye received from grateful tribal nations”) in order to provide a peek into the lasting effects of a lifetime dedicated to public service.

Daniel Inouye Gets Cornered on the National Mall (Video)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Hence the reason the museum elected to carve out some space to showcase a few of the cultural treasures — six, to be exact — the powerful pol amassed throughout his epic career.

Daniel Inouye Gets Cornered on the National Mall (Video)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

That legacy has been relegated to two display cases.

Daniel Inouye Gets Cornered on the National Mall (Video)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Then again, the Spartan showcase does occupy some choice real estate: directly opposite the award-winning Mitsitam Café.

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  • Scot Wilson

    I agree with the author’s dismay that Inouye is not featured more prominently, but I think it speaks to an issue with the museum and its aims/intended audiences. If the museum is intended to educate non-Indians about Indian history, culture, language and life, it would be appropriate to focus more on arts and crafts, dancing and other cultural artifacts. If the museum is also intended to empower Native visitors, it needs to do more to tell the stories of successful, influential Native people.

    The American History Museum seems to aim to do both — to teach about America and to shape the Americans who visit. Obviously, it is hard to do both, and the American history museum generally fails at both (actually, the museum seems to fail at almost everything). But, NMAI has a narrower focus and could potentially achieve both ends through careful planning of exhibits.

  • Reader123

    So I guess you missed the full-day symposium on Thursday 5/15/14 from 9:00AM to 5:30 PM about Senator Inouye then. It was mentioned on page 2 of that glossy brochure (Actually it was the whole page)….here is the calendar listing about it: http://nmai.si.edu/calendar/?trumbaEmbed=view%3Devent%26eventid%3D109534122

    There is a link to the program with all the speakers.

    The recording of it will most likely be posted on the Museum’s YouTube channel in the coming weeks: https://www.youtube.com/user/SmithsonianNMAI

  • Plutark Heavensbee

    Although most aren’t concerned with the freedom of others, it is because we cannot know how people will use liberty that it is so important.

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