Humboldt Forum
Visit in the depot

June 6, 2019, 6:00 PM

Long night of ideas

We are still here. The Omaha Speaking

@ Berliner Bauakademie

Free admission, no registration required

in English

In two films and five panel discussions, representatives of the North American Omaha people will talk about their quest to preserve their language and traditions and provide insights into the exhibition, which will move into the Humboldt Forum in 2020. The event will be in English. Questions may be asked in German. Admission is free.

Language as identity

The name Omaha or Umónhon means “those who go against the current”. To this day, their lives are marked by experiences of colonialism, racism and violence. Owing to the policy of assimilation pursued by the United States towards its indigenous population groups, the Omaha wage a daily battle to keep their traditions and their language alive. Language is, after all, essential for communicating one’s own picture of the world and for cultivating rituals. It is a marker of identity and forms the basis for understanding other points of view.

The Omaha at the Humboldt Forum

The relationship between the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin and the Omaha goes back to the late nineteenth century, when ethnologist Francis La Flesche, a member of the Omaha nation, made a collection of around sixty of his people’s objects available to the museum’s predecessor. In 2020, these objects will move into the Humboldt Forum, where they will form the historic starting point for a new chapter in the relationship between the Omaha and Berlin. The exhibition currently being planned by the Ethnologisches Museum together with the Nebraska Indian Community College and representatives of the Omaha will show objects that connect past and present. They will demonstrate to visitors that, despite, or because of the battle for their traditions, the Omaha are still alive and well.

Visit in the depot
Film screenings

Admission 5:30 pm

6 – 11 pm "Preview: Against the current."
Short film documenting the collaboration with the Omaha in preparing the forthcoming joint exhibition which will show at the Humboldt Forum in 2020.

Duration: c. 10 min
Language: German

6:30, 7:45, 9:00, 10:15 pm "Umónhon Íye. The Omaha Speaking"
Documentary about the language of the Omaha and their quest to keep it alive. German premiere. The film was shown at many international film festivals in 2018.

Duration: 1h 7 min
Language: English

More information abou the film screenings and events to accompany the film Umónhon Íye. The Omaha Speaking.

Discussion circles

Every hour on the hour we invite visitors to come and talk to the Omaha personally. Native speakers and learners of Umónhon will talk about what the threat of losing their language means for them and about the projects they have initiated to counter this threat.

Come and talk to Michael Thomas Berger, Edmundo Encinos, Barbara Jo McKillip-Erixon, Pierre Merrick, Wynema Eleanor Morris, Vanessa Dawn Hamilton and Glenna Slater. You can ask them questions in German and they will answer in English.

6 – 6:30 pm The Omaha: Against the current
Who are the Omaha? What are the Omaha doing at the Humboldt Forum?
Word of welcome: Hartmut Dorgerloh, general director of the Humboldt Forum

7 – 7:30 pm Indigenous Education
What is indigenous education? How can it co-exist with state educational strategies or assert itself against them?

8 – 8:30 pm Boarding Schools
What were boarding schools? What was their purpose? What impact did they have?

9 – 9:30 pm The Nebraska Indian Community College
What is the Nebraska Indian Community College? What makes it special? How is language teaching promoted there?

10 – 10:30 pm Language and Culture
Does language shape how we think? What happens when a language ceases to exist?


The event will take place as part of the fourth Long Night of Ideas staged by the German Foreign Office (#LNDI2019). This year’s motto is “Idea and Ideal – Europe”. At various prominent venues in Berlin’s cultural landscape, the Foreign Office will introduce its broad spectrum of foreign cultural and educational policy. You can find the complete programme under
  • Long nights of ideas

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