After the Air and Space Museum, we went to the National Museum of the American Indian. I sense that, all through this ‘grand tour’ that we have embarked upon, the ghosts of America’s original inhabitants will never be very far away. This museum is, in part, a reassertion of that past (and then only since 2004), but since so many of the American Indians’ traditions were oral, it can only hint at what was lost when European diseases laid waste to countless Indian populations throughout the Americas. When not massacred, most of those left were subjugated and forced out of their homelands (I remember first being shocked about all of this, as opposed to the Hollywood ‘Western’ account, through a 1969 school (amateur) production of Arthur Kopit’s play, Indians, later compounded by seeing the 1973 West End production of Savages). In this context, one of the exhibits provides a story of those first encounters, from the earliest – Greenland (+/- AD 1000), Brazil (+/- AD 1500), Mexico (1519), to the most recent – Vancouver Island (1788), Idaho (1805), North Dakota (1833), Montana (1841), Paraguay (the Ayoreo – 2011). It was all so very recent! The strikingly beautiful building was designed by a Blackfoot Indian, Douglas Cardinal, and Indians have been heavily involved in virtually every aspect of the museum’s construction and life. Aware of the oral tradition, I was particularly interested in the exhibits about the  Indians’ philosophy and beliefs; the exhibition explores those of the Anishinaabe, Mapuche, Yup’ik, Hupa, Quechua, Lakota, Kha’p’o, and Q’eq’chi (Mayan) tribes. There are a number of familiar (to European ears) themes, including prophets in the wilderness and resurrection. But the most striking aspect is the close, symbiotic relationship that all Indians enjoyed with their environment, and a sensitivity to the world about them, from the sun, moon, planets and stars through to the seasons and plant and animal life. Where Western man massacred the buffalos that once roamed the Great Plains, the Indian revered the animal, taking from it only what was needed. Here was surely a sustainable alternative – alas, all too vulnerable to the insatiable predations of the Europeans and the early Americans.