Celebrating Indigenous and Cultural Heritage: A Project for India

Five cultural leaders from different indigenous communities of Northeast India participated in an International Visitor Leadership Program that connected them to the traditions, heritage, and contemporary life of a variety of Native Americans. Participants explored creative ways of not only acknowledging the role of indigenous peoples in shaping larger historical and cultural narratives, but also addressing individual and collective vulnerabilities and promoting empowerment strategies.

Participants discuss Native Food Sovereignty through a visit to the gardens of the Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland, Oregon.

After a big picture overview in Washington DC that included visits to the U.S. Department of State and the Smithsonian Institution, the group explored indigenous culture and issues across the country. Topics included traditional agriculture, artistic endeavors, ecotourism, and the role of women. In North Carolina, they met with the Lumbee and other tribes and attended the American Indian Women of Proud Nations Conference. In Oregon, they attended Annual Nesika Illahee Powwow to experience traditional singing, drumming, dancing, crafts, and cuisine from indigenous peoples from across the Northwest and beyond. They also learned more about the how urban indigenous peoples maintain their foodways and entrepreneurial initiatives. They concluded their program on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming where they got perspectives from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho on how they are celebrating and sharing their history and cultures.

Participants visit the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming where they learned how Native American communities are protecting their cultural heritage.

One participant -- who was the first ever from his village to travel abroad -- treasured the experience, "Each day was filled with unique and enriching meetings and sights, providing me with a comprehensive understanding of the local culture, traditions, and natural beauty. The carefully selected locations and the interlocutors made the visits to historical museums, sites, landmarks, and cultural events more meaningful." Another participant reflected that she was so enriched by the experience that she was determined to "do something for the betterment of my community and and people I have and will encounter in my journey by making use of the resources provided by this program."


Visitors engage with experts at the Smithsonian Institution to see how Native American cultural heritage is preserved in a museum setting.

Project summary

Celebrating Indigenous and Cultural Heritage: A Project for India
Number of Visitors: 5
Regions: South and Central Asia
Countries: India
Impact Areas: Cultural Diplomacy
Program Areas: Global Leadership