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Home > News > Report

US: Smithsonian museum to showcase Indian-American history

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | October 10, 2007 00:50 IST

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Two young Indian-American political activists belonging to the second generation have convinced the Smithsonian Institution to moot a project to showcase the Indian-American history and experience in the United States.

On the urging of Toby Chaudhuri, communications director for the Washington, DC-based Campaign for America's Future and Parag Mehta, director of training at the Democratic National Committee, the Smithsonian's Asian Pacific American Program will announce on October 11, preliminary details of 'HomeSpun: Made in America'.

The project will showcase the immigration of Asians of Indian origin to the US and the impact and contributions they have made to America in diverse fields like medicine, engineering, high technology, education, culture, the arts, and who now are carving out a niche of themselves in the political arena.

Although, this will not be the first time that the Smithsonian will showcase the history and experience of Indian-Americans.

More than three years ago, it dedicated a special section for Sikh-Americans and their contributions to American society since their advent to the US more than a 100 years ago to help build the California railroad and also work in the farms and orchards on the West Coast of the US.

The community also produced the first Indian-American US Congressman Dalip Singh Saund in the early 1950s.

The new Smithsonian venture will be a more ambitious broad-based project.

It will envisage the establishment of a permanent presence within the Smithsonian Institution dedicated to the history, achievements and contributions of America's burgeoning Indian-American population, that is conservatively estimated at now over 2.2 million.

HomeSpun plans to include a national travelling exhibition, related public programming at the Smithsonian, a dedicated Web site and a middle school curriculum guide for the Smithsonian's young visitors.

In this exploratory phase, the Smithsonian plans to engage the Indian-American community and others to gauge support and to solicit input for the project.

Chaudhuri said this would be "truly historic," and would be "a major declaration of our community's growing strength in America."

"The Indian-American tiger will spring from the Smithsonian's galleries," he added and said he was "helping the institution move this idea from dream to reality."

Chaudhuri exhorted members of the Indian-American community and community leaders to attend the announcement on October 11 to discuss the project with the museum's administrators, and among those present besides himself and Mehta, would be Franklin Odo, director, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and Francey Youngberg, public affairs specialist at the Smithsonian.