Customer Feature: The Museum of Native American History

Photo of the outside of the Museum of Native American History
The Museum of Native American History

Nestled in the town of Bentonville, AR, the Museum of Native American History (MONAH) stands as a testament to the rich and diverse heritage of Native American communities across North, Central, and South America. Established in 2006, this non-profit organization has a noble mission – to make the wonders of Native American history, art, and culture accessible to all. In a conversation with Alaynna Littlefeather, the Museum Shop Manager, and Jazlyn Sanderson, the Director of MONAH, we unravel the story behind this institution, its unique gift shop, and the cultural narratives it seeks to share.

MONAH’s gift shop is an integral part of the museum and plays a pivotal role in achieving its mission. The Museum of Native American History is open to visitors free of cost. To maintain this accessibility, MONAH relies on generous donations as well as sales from the gift shop. Essentially, this shop serves as the financial backbone of the museum, ensuring that visitors can explore Native American history without paying an admission fee.

Celebrating Indigenous Culture

What sets MONAH’s gift shop apart is its commitment to showcasing Indigenous-made art and products. The gift shop items are 85% Indigenous-made, reflecting the celebration of Native art. MONAH is considered to be an art museum, and the shop mirrors this sentiment. Visitors can expect to find a wide variety of merchandise, from clothing and pottery to jewelry, textiles, books, and more.

The museum experience begins in the Paleo Period, dating back to 22,000 B.C., and closes in the Historic Period, encompassing the 1940s. However, the story doesn’t end there. After guests have immersed themselves in the museum’s exhibits, they have the opportunity to visit the gift shop, where the stories and accomplishments of modern Indigenous artists and business owners are told.

MONAH's display case and shelves of dozens of Native American pottery and artwork
Pottery and other cultural items can be purchased at the MONAH gift shop.

For Littlefeather, the mission goes beyond commerce. “It has been my goal to showcase what we, the people of the First Nations, have been up to,” she said. There has long been a narrative that Indigenous people are either extinct or trapped in a historic time capsule, but she is determined to shatter this misconception.

“While indigenous people find it important to remember the traditions and teachings of our elders, we still are very much a part of this evolving world,” Little feather said. “MONAH wants to give a platform to these voices and artwork because it is our duty to constantly learn and teach those who come to visit. Our hope is that after our visitors experience the galleries and gift shop, they leave with a mindset that Indigenous peoples, art, and issues are still here and that they matter.”

Supporting Indigenous Businesses

One of the noteworthy collaborations of MONAH is with Native American companies like SweetGrass. When it comes to sacred plants such as sage, cedar, and sweetgrass, Alaynna emphasizes the importance of purchasing from a company that respects and understands the responsibility of smudging. As a museum of Native American history, they also aspire to guide their customers towards supporting Indigenous businesses actively, creating a network of mutual support.

The Museum of Native American History is more than just a place of exhibits and artifacts. It’s a living testament to the vibrant cultures and artistry of Native American communities. Through its gift shop and dedicated staff like Alaynna Littlefeather, MONAH strives to bridge the gap between history and the present, showcasing the resilience and creativity of Indigenous peoples while fostering understanding and support for their continued journey in the modern world. To learn more about MONAH, its exhibits, and events, visit their website at

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