This exhibit is now closed.

Owing its origin to the surfboard of Native Hawaiians, the modern skateboard, or deck, grew in popularity on the mainland beginning in the 1960s. Since that time, skateboarding has become one of the most popular sports on Indian reservations and has inspired and influenced Native American and Native Hawaiian communities. Today, skateboarding is a five-billion-dollar industry that includes shoes, apparel, camps, music tours, reality TV, and worldwide competitions.

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. Skateboarding has grown to become a true phenomenon, integrating physical exertion with design, graphic art, videography, and music. The result is a unique and dynamic culture all its own.

Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America reveals the rich world of skateboarding and celebrates the vibrancy, creativity, and history of Native American skateboarding culture. Showing for the first time outside of the Smithsonian, this new traveling exhibition features rare images, video of Native American skaters, and over twenty skate decks created by Native artists.

Highlights include a never-before-seen 1969 image taken by skateboarding icon Craig R. Stecyk III of a skate deck depicting traditional Native imagery, as well as 1973 home-movie footage of Zephyr surf team members Ricky and Jimmy Tavarez (Gabrielino-Tongva tribe). The exhibition features the work of visual artists Bunky Echo-Hawk (Yakama / Pawnee), Joe Yazzie (Navajo), Traci Rabbit (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) and Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache / Navajo) and highlights young Native skaters such as Bryant Chapo (Navajo) and Augustin and Armondo Lerma (Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians).

Skate the half pipe mini-ramp inside the museum!


Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America is organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

Special thanks to our Museum of Man sponsors:



   Element Elemental AwarenessDekline  

Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Foundation, as recommended by Marnie Cheney