The National Museum of the American Indian (BILL O'LEARY/BILL O'LEARY/TWP)

Anniversaries collide this fall at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, marking the first decade of its distinctive building on the Mall at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue SW.

Celebrations have been occurring nearly every weekend all year, with a big streak coming Sept. 18-21 that includes a new exhibit, a symposium and a gala ball.

Even while the celebrating is happening, keeping all the anniversary numbers straight may take some concentration.


Anniversary of the National Museum of the American Indian building on the National Mall, which opened on Sept. 21, 2004.


Worldwide rank of museum in terms of physical size: 250,991 square feet.


Estimated number of Native Americans who gathered for the museum opening in 2004, the largest gathering of indigenous people in Washington, D.C., to date.


Anniversary of the groundbreaking and blessing ceremony on the site at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue, on Sept. 21, 1999.


Anniversary of the act of Congress that created the museum, which also required a process that human remains, funerary or sacred objects of Native Americans in Smithsonian storage be repatriated to tribes.


Other facilities of the museum: the George Gustav Heye Center in New York and the Cultural Resources Center, a research and collections facility in Suitland, Md., which also happens to be marking its 15th anniversary.


Years that George Gustav Heye collected native objects from North and South America for his museum, from 1903 to his death in 1957. They have since become the core of the Smithsonian collection.


Estimated amount of the 19,250 sets of Native American human skeletal remains in Smithsonian collections that have been repatriated to tribes since legislation 25 years ago.


The year the Live Earth Concert was held on the plaza of the National Museum of the American Indian, at the last moment, featuring Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and hosted by Al Gore.


Number of pieces in the National Museum of the American Indian collection.

20.7 million

Estimated number of visitors to the museum’s three sites since 1994.


Number of treaties between the U.S. and the Native Nations to be featured in the exhibit “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations,” opening Sept. 21.


Approximate number of treaties ratified between the United States and the Native Nations.


“Nation to Nation” exhibit closes, four years from now, on Sept. 1.

The National Museum of the American Indian, Fourth Street and Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. Call 202-633-1000 or visit

Catlin is a freelance writer.