Events December 21-23: Medicinal Tattoos, Dakota 38, and ZooLights

This weekend, learn about the health history behind tattoos, watch one man’s journey to mark the Dakota War and take in the holidazzle at the Zoo

Nothing says Smithsonian cheer like ZooLights.
Nothing says Smithsonian cheer like ZooLights. Photo by Jim Jenkins

Friday, December 21: Lars Krutak: Spiritual Skin

Presuming the end of the world is not for at least a few thousand more years, we present a night of enlightening tattoo appreciation. It turns out, while the oldest known example of tattoos are cosmetic, the second oldest is actually most likely medicinal. Megan Gambino spoke with Smithsonian anthropologist Lars Krutak for her blog, Collage of Arts and Sciences, about his time spent studying tattoo practices throughout history. His research has taken him around the world and now it brings him to the Big Board in D.C. for a book signing and lecture about the spiritual role of tattoos and scarification. Free. 7:00 p.m. The Big Board, 421 H St. NE.

Saturday, December 22: Dakota 38

Abraham Lincoln has been remembered for many things, but seldom is he mentioned as the President who authorized the largest mass execution in United States history. Thirty-eight Dakota man were put to death at the end of the Dakota War of 1862. Native spiritual leader Jim Miller knew none of this when he dreamed, in 2005, that he rode across South Dakota to watch the execution of 38 strangers in Minnesota. When he learned of the event, he set out with a group of riders to recreate his dream journey, documented in the film Dakota 38. Free. 3:30 p.m. American Indian Museum.

Sunday, December 23: ZooLights, Conservation Carousel

What better way to spend a restful Sunday evening than taking in the seasonal lights display at the National Zoo. See your favorite animals larger than life and in their full holiday splendor. And new this year, the Conservation Carousel features 56 hand-carved figures modeled from the Zoo’s collection as well as two hand-carved chariots. Everyone from naked mole rats to hummingbirds is along for the ride, so you should be too! Rides are $3. Parking is $16 for non-members. Lights run 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. National Zoo.

Read more articles about the holidays with our Smithsonian Holiday Guide here

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