EXHIBITION IT’S ON!
AT A GLANCE
We're stoked to announce. . .
Contents: Text and graphic
panels with contemporary and Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America.
archival photographs, graffiti art
panels by Jak Fragua, 22 skate
decks and 2 skate wheel displays,
For many, it’s all about style and flow. For others, it’s a way of
18-minute loop of a compilation combining balance and agility, courage and creativity. For all,
of high-energy films, freestanding
skating is a way of life.
Supplemental: Educational and These are the indigenous stories of skateboarding.
Participation fee: $10,500 per
8-week booking period, plus
Size: Approximately 1,500
Tour begins: April 2012
HEY DUDES, WHICH ONE OF THESE WORDS
MEANS RIDING A SKATEBOARD BACKWARDS?
CLICK ON THE WORDS, AND TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE.
• Rocket air
• 540 Shuvit
• Totally Clueless
A skater drops into the half-pipe at the Gila River Indian Community’s skatepark in
Arizona. Courtesy of the Gila River Indian Community Public Information Office
Be strong. Be resilient, on your board and off:
These are lessons of skate life, lessons of Native life,
learned on the streets and on the rez.
One of the most popular activities on Indian reservations
today, skateboarding is a true phenomenon, integrating
physical exertion with design, graphic art, videography, and
music. The result is a unique and dynamic culture all its own.
Enthusiasm for the sport only continues to grow as American
Indian communities build skateparks and host skateboard
competitions that attract national attention.
Native artists and filmmakers are often inspired by their own
skating experiences. More importantly, the sport provides an unfet-
tered outlet for creativity, channeling youthful energy into something
positive and meaningful. The lessons learned in a skatepark speak
to the inner strength of each skater and are a metaphor for the
Native experience. When you fall, get up and try again. Push
yourself higher and faster. Never give up.
Join the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and
the National Museum of the American Indian as we explore the
vibrancy and creativity of Native skate culture.
Top: Credited with revolutionizing both surfing and skateboarding, Larry Bertlemann
(Native Hawaiian) passes on his surfing and skating skills to his descendants.
Larry’s daughter and grandchildren skate in the driveway of his Hawai‘i home.
Photo courtesy Larry Bertlemann
Right: Wounded Knee Skateboard Manufacturing
and Propaganda Skatedeck. Photo courtesy Walt Pourier
Skateboarding and surfing are indigenous sports. The modern skateboard
or “deck” owes its heritage to the papa he’e nalu (surfboards) and the
papaholua (land sleds) of Native Hawaiians. And, by the time British explorer
Captain James Cooke first documented the Hawaiian Islands in 1778, the
tradition of he’e nalu (wave sliding) was already well-established.
It was nearly two hundred years before both practices found an audience
on the mainland. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, films such as Gidget
(1959) and Endless Summer (1966) as well as bands like the Beach
Boys popularized surfing as the quintessential teenage pastime. The
infiltration of surfing into American popular culture provided a perfect
gateway for skateboarding.
The sudden demand for all things “surf” inspired California surfboard
companies to build the first commercially manufactured skateboards,
called “sidewalk surfers.” Initially solid planks of wood with roller skate
wheels, skatedecks changed significantly in the following decades.
Innovations in design and base materials transformed skating from
a teenage fad into an entirely new genre of action sport.
Today, skateboarding is a five-billion-dollar industry that includes
shoes, apparel, camps, music tours, reality TV, and worldwide
Above: This prototype skatedeck was one of many preliminary designs that Larry
Bertlemann and Gravity Skateboards considered before they decided on the final
model. Bertlemann prototype, Gravity Skateboards, Private Collection 2008.
Photo courtesy Walt Pourier
Left: Duke Kahanamoku (Native Hawaiian) in front of his surfboard
at Waikiki, ca. 1910. Photo courtesy of the Bishop Museum
Watch Jak Fragua create killer artwork for the Ramp It Up exhibition:
Above: Modern skateboarding is an integration of music and video, design and
style. So, it’s only fitting that Ramp It Up includes a compilation of high-energy
documentary films by people who define the sport in towns, skateparks, and
empty lots across the country. Courtesy National Museum of the American Indian,
Smithsonian Institution. Photo by Katherine Fogden
Right: Professional skater Bryant Chapo (Navajo) performs a varial heel flip in
Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo courtesy Brandon Flyg
Top left: Jim Murphy (Lenni Lenape ancestry), founder of Wounded Knee
Skateboards and Propaganda, guides kids through the process of designing
skatedecks. Courtesy National Museum of the American Indian,
Smithsonian Institution. Photo by Stephen Lang
Top middle: Friends, family, and skaters from Full Blood Skates, 4-Wheel
Warpony, Wounded Knee Skateboards and Propaganda, and Native
Skates meet at the Pala Pipes near San Diego for an impromptu inter-tribal
skating session. Photo courtesy Todd Harder
Top right: Ramp It Up explores the sport’s power to educate Native
American youth about their own heritage. Courtesy National Museum of
the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. Photo by Katherine Fogden
Middle left: Members of the 4-Wheel Warpony skate team wear traditional
19th-century Apache scout dress. From left, White Mountain Apache
skaters Armonyo Hume, Jess Michael Smith, Aloysius Henry, Ronnie
Altaha, and Lee Nash. Photo courtesy Dustinn Craig (White Mountain
Middle right: The exhibition includes original art on skatedecks like
these, each with a message, each with a theme. Courtesy National
Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. Photo by
Bottom left: Young artists show off their newly designed decks in a
hands-on workshop. Courtesy National Museum of the American
Indian, Smithsonian Institution. Photo by Stephen Lang
Requirements for Hosting
Institutions hosting Ramp It Up will be required to adhere to the Moderate
Security requirements listed, but not limited to those, below:
• Limited access gallery(ies) of sufficient area and wall space to accom-
modate the exhibition. An open mall, hallway, or lounge area is not
• Gallery light levels must be adjustable to 15-20 foot-candles. No
direct sunlight may reach the objects, graphics and text panels. Light
must be filtered for UV
• Temperature must be maintained between 65º–75º Fahrenheit
• Consistent relative humidity must be maintained between 40%–60%
• Only museum professionals trained in object handling may handle
the skatedecks and wheel displays
• The exhibition must be properly secured and under guard through-
out the time the exhibition is on site. Storage, staging, and gallery
areas must be properly secured and guarded at all times during
unpacking, installation, de-installation, and packing as well as the
• The exhibition must be checked periodically each day
• During night and non-public hours, the gallery area must be
locked and secured. Alarm and/or guard surveillance during
these hours is required
• Smoking, eating, and drinking are prohibited in the gallery,
staging and storage areas
Top: Skaters compete at the All Nations Skate Jam in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Photo courtesy Rudy Burciaga
Right: Ramp It Up exhibition panels are vibrant and bold. Courtesy National
Museum of the American Indian. Photo by Katherine Fogden
is brought to you by:
Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and
research programs with millions of people outside Washington, DC, for
more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural
heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and
history, which are shown wherever people live, work, and play.
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
The museum recognizes and affirms the historical and contemporary
culture and cultural achievements of the Native peoples of the
Western Hemisphere by advancing, in consultation, collaboration,
and cooperation with Natives, knowledge and understanding
of Native cultures. The museum also recognizes its special respon-
sibility to protect, support, and enhance the development,
maintenance, and perpetuation of Native culture and community.
Shavonne Harding | 202.633.3138 • email@example.com
Katherine Krile | 202.633.3108 • firstname.lastname@example.org
SITES Cover: Andy Burciago (Toltec indigenous
PO Box 37012 Mexico ancestry) skates for Nakota Dogs
Movement & Wounded Knee Skateboards
MRC 941 and gets air at the National Museum of
Washington, DC 20013-7012 the American Indian’s skate jam.
202.633.3168 Photo courtesy Walt Pourier
Follow the development
of this exhibition on