By Cindy Hsu

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As we celebrate Native American Heritage Month, a new exhibit in Lower Manhattan honors New York’s Native Americans and their contributions to the state.

As CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reports, the exhibition is at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. It’s called “Native New York.”

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Educator Carrie Gonzalez gave Hsu a tour, which started by following a wooden path through the exhibit.

“So you’re traveling through 12 different locations in the state of New York and we start off here by going on to Long Island,” Gonzalez said.

Each location has its indigenous name in orange, the native history and map of the area, and what the name means. It takes you from Eastern Long Island to Niagara Falls.

There’s a section about the Empire State Building, highlighting the Mohawk ironworkers who helped build many of the skyscrapers in the city.

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“You actually are able to go on this red path here to sort of get a feel of what it would be like to walk on one of these beams,” Gonzalez said.

As you continue to walk through, there’s a large map of Manhattan, and parts of it change to what it looked like in the 1600s as you walk by.

The exhibition is designed for all ages and includes stories told through comics and many interactive elements, like a beaver pelt you can touch, and you can also listen to first person accounts.

The exhibition features a six minute film called “The Trouble with History.” The hope is that sharing accurate native stories from the past and present will help educate and foster better understanding of culture and history.

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Admission to the museum is free, and it’s even open on holidays.

Cindy Hsu