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November 30, 2010

Andean Journal: Protecting the Inka Legacy

Earlier this month, José Barreiro, the museum's assistant director of research, and Kevin Cartwright, one of the museum's media producers, returned to Peru for Chawaytiri on the Road, a research and documentary partnership with Quechua elders in Andean villages near Pisaq. 

Their goal: to trace part of the ancient route of the Qhapac ñan, the sacred road of the Inka—the grand Andean civilization that greeted the Spanish conquest. 

Chawaytiri_06
Near Chawaytiri, Peru, November 2010

 
For two weeks, the team recorded and documented a caravan of the community's leaders, families and llamas during a pilgrimage of remembrance over nearly 100 kilometers of Andean roads. During the trek, ceremonial offerings to the mountains and the Pachamama (Mother Earth) were conducted and captured on film as part of the elders’ wish to preserve and spread the spiritual and agricultural traditions of the indigenous Andean people. (Footage will be posted on the museum's YouTube channel; details coming soon.)

José and Kevin returned with wonderful stories and images. “What’s new about this footage is that we have been following the community’s lead,” Kevin says. “Rather than deriving images from staged contexts, this project has really been driven by the people themselves.” 


  Chawaytiri_03
  Men of Chawaytiri, Peru performing the Llama Tinkay ceremony, November 2010
 

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Llamas on the Antisuyo Inca Road. Colquepata, Peru, November 2010
 

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Sunset near Chawaytiri, Peru, November 2010
 

Chawaytiri_01
Men of Chawaytiri, Peru, performing the Ch'uncho dance, November 2010
 

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Community of Chawaytiri on the Antisuyo Inka Road, Peru, November 2010
 

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Pago a las Apus y la Pachamama ceremony, Near Chawaytiri, Peru, November 2010 

Photographs by Kevin Cartwright, NMAI

The expedition was funded by a generous grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.  

"Easy boy, don't fall now," Lucio Illa Mesa, our local host, calls out in Quechua to his son. But the boy is practiced at his climbing and hops ahead confidently, actually leading our group.

 

Ramiro Matos, Quechua, archeologist and curator at the National Museum of the American Indian, walks briskly to keep up. Matos has a keen eye for evidence of all ancient inhabitation. He stops suddenly, arm extended. "Do you see it? Tell me if you see it." We have been playing this game for days. The old Inka road we seek to trace is often hidden in cultivated plots and overgrown with vegetation but here and there it emerges, characteristically buttressed by tightly-placed boulders. Then I see it, certainly there it is, snaking along the contours of the hill and coming our way. "Excellent," the old professor tells his not-so-young student. "You get high marks today."

 

But there is more. Lucio and his boy are deviating right on the trail. Lucio wants to show us something special that day. Higher up the hill, along a peak known in the oral memory as "the nose of the condor," there is a set of rock drawings, in red paint and depicting multiple llamas. Academic researchers have often studied those. They have come, more than once, to photograph, draw and describe the centuries-old pictographs, filing scholarly reports that layer one upon another.

 

But Lucio Illa, son of a long line of Quechua grandfathers, knows more. This we recognize and respect, that here, in his home grounds, he is the true expert. Lucio perceives our attitude and freely shares new knowledge. To the right, off the beaten academic path, something wonderful emerges. He points out the ruins of an old Inka tambo, or "tampu," one of the periodic way stations or rest stops one can find along the whole of the Inka roads. Dr. Matos is beside himself. "This is new! None of the scientists have registered this."

 

"Let me show you," says Illa, pointing to a central stone in the ancient wall. There, too, faded but visible, is a picture of a red llama. Matos notes the archeological and cultural importance. The fact of the drawings clearly marks the place as sacred.

 

Speaking mostly in Quechua, Lucio Illa tells us the story. He knows the Inka road of his district well. Along the road, which he describes with reverence, he knows of several tambos. To him, the road is sacred, it is alive, and everything about it is to be respected, protected. "See here," he says, pointing out where the painted stone has been disturbed. "Thieves. They come in the night and try to pry it loose," he explains, his countenance troubled, then a smile. "But the llamas and the sheep squeal in the night. So we fight off the thieves, and more than once."

 

Beyond the mutual respect, he has a strong concern. "Friends," he says, "what can we do to protect this sacred thing?"

 

He has requested help from the National Institute of Culture, which is charged with such a task, but they are not forthcoming, perhaps overextended. This whole region of Peru is replete with countless ruins -- remnants of many peoples and several civilizations, of which the Inka were but the last, in place at the coming of the Spanish advance.

 

So Lucio Illa has taken it upon himself, along with other members of his community, to defend the country's patrimony. "The last time," he says, "the thieves were armed. We worry for our safely but still, we are on guard."

 

Later, at the patio of his Andean homestead, over a meal of boiled potatoes and the large-kernel corn found only in this region, Lucio notes my long hair. Up to the time of his grandfather, when he was a young boy, he recalls that the men of his community wore their hair long. "Not just to the shoulders," he says, 'but long to the waist." Everyone then dressed in dark clothes and performed ceremonies to the mountain authority spirits, called "apus," and to the "Pachamama," the Mother Earth. It was the military that made the men all shave their heads. Then, the evangelical cults came in, dividing the community so that not only thieves threaten the patrimonial sites, but the cults as well. Charging that the petroglyphs are the work of the Devil, the cults would try to erase or destroy them. He would like to carry on with his traditional dress, Lucio complains, but many of the converted ridicule it and attack the traditionally-minded for "backwardness and idolatry."

 

Still, he says, "I continue to carry out my ceremonies. We make our payment to the Pachamama. We will defend the legacy of our ancestors."

 

Matos wonders about where the nearby Inka road is leading. "The Inka road always leads to Cuzco," Illa replies. "Of course," says Matos, "the navel of the world." Matos smiles, nodding in recognition and appreciation. It is his method, and the museum's, to seek the knowledge of the indigenous people of a place. "You might read the reports and never know a tambo existed here," he says. "But you see, this man knows his land. He knows what is here more than any so-called academic expert."

 

The boy walks by with another young cousin, slingshots in hand, lively faces full of mischief. "Will the next generation carry on the ancient culture," we wonder.

 

"I teach them that they should," Lucio responds. "It’s not easy, but we mean to continue in that way."

Comments (2)

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I find it such a shame that Indigenous people have been treated as 2nd-rate in there own land. It's great to see them holding on to their own traditions.

Nice post .Very informative .

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November 26, 2010

StoryCorps Interview with NMAI's Kevin Gover (Pawnee)

This week the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has shared the stories of five Native staffers as part of American Indian Heritage Day and the StoryCorps’ 2010 National Day of Listening. Today—Friday, Nov. 26—we celebrate both of these holidays and encourage you and your loved ones to join us by, quite simply, sharing stories with one another.

Gover-post2 Our final interview features the museum’s director, Kevin Gover (Pawnee). Before joining NMAI in 2007, Gover was a professor of law at Arizona State University. From 1997 to 2000, he served as assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior, overseeing programs in Indian education, law enforcement, social services and treaty rights.

He grew up near Lawton, Okla., where his parents worked as civil-rights activists in the 1960s and '70s.

“This museum is really attempting to redefine a number of things. In particular and most importantly, it’s trying to redefine how Indians are represented in the museum world, and establishing a requirement that in order to represent these communities properly the community has to be deeply involved in the development of any sort of content," Gover said during his conversation with Rachael Cassidy (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma), NMAI Cultural Interpreter.

"And we can look out the window right here at the Capitol of the United States, and you realize its symbolic importance. This great stone edifice really, to me, stands for the proposition that Indians are still here, and we’re here to stay.”

On growing up in Comanche County, Oklahoma:

 Gover-Childhood (Click to Play)

EXCERPT: “I suppose my best memory was actually being at my grandmother and grandfather’s farm in Faxon, Oklahoma. It seemed like a carefree place to a child, and there were a million things to get in trouble over when you’re out on that much land with that many animals and that much farm equipment and, so, we did.”

On the biggest in influences in his life:

Gover-Biggest Influence (Click to Play)

EXCERPT: From my parents, the real lasting lesson was to accept people for who they are and to just never, ever judge somebody else because of the color of their skin or their economic background or their gender or religion or any of the other dozens and hundreds of ways we try to separate ourselves from other people. And they were insistent about that. For all their failings, that was something they drove home. That, and I suppose the idea of achieving to the limits of your potential. You know, the achievement part can be a bad thing if you become obsessed with achievement for your own sake. On the other hand, to strive for a cause is a good thing. And they taught me that.”

On choosing a career in law:

Gover- Law and Civil Rights (Click to Play)

EXCERPT: “I think it had something to do with the people that my parents exposed me to during the civil rights movement. There was a loose organization . . . that just called itself “the Group.” But they had taken on as their charter to try to end segregation in Lawton, Oklahoma, in both public and private facilities. And among the members of the group were some lawyers that I remember. I remember one named Maynard Ungerman, another named Bill Sexton. And I just saw how the Group had such a respect for them. When they spoke, everybody was listening. And I think that may be where I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer.”

On his struggles with alcoholism:

Gover-Alcoholism (Click to Play)

EXCERPT: “In my career as a drinker, I still have memories that I shudder over, things that I did, and just wish I could take them back. I know I can’t. . . . Almost everything I’ve done in my life that I’m genuinely ashamed of—not failing, but just ashamed of—happened when I was drinking. So that’s reason enough for me never to drink again.”

The National Day of Listening is an effort to encourage all Americans to honor a friend, loved one, or member of their community by interviewing them about their lives. StoryCorps has created a free do-it-yourself interview guide with equipment recommendations and interview instructions available online at www.nationaldayoflistening.org.

 

Comments (41)

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Totally enjoyed this interview. Would love to meet this gentleman. He has been involved with tribal peoples in many arenas, and just wished he could have been invited to the Klamath tribes, of which I am a member. He gives me hope, that at 62, I can continue my education after raising 6 children. We have no limits but those that we set ourselves. Indian people making a difference anywhere and everywhere we can!!

Even though I am not an American Indian, I think Kevin Grover can be an inspiration to everyone.

With regard to his bout with alcoholism, I know how devastating this disease can be. My mother was a recovering alcoholic for more than 26 years before she died. It was a daily struggle, but she used it to inspire others. When Kevin decided that he did not like the person he was when he was drinking, he used it to make a positive change in his life.

The wisdom he received from parents about accepting others without judgment is advice I think many people can benefit from today. So many of us are afraid to even acknowledge that there are differences between us, because it might not be 'politically correct' to do so.

I think it is wonderful to ask people about their different cultures. When we are open to hearing how other people live, without making judgments about them, we can actually put the National Day of Listening into effect on a daily basis.

Excellent. купить ноутбук Totally enjoyed this interview!

I can relate I have had a part time job as a drinker.

Great interview. Real experiences from real people like Kevin Gover can really serve to help a lot of people who face similar challenges.

thank you for the interview, it was very interesting. It helps other people realize that they are not alone in their struggles.

Excellent..very inspiring and informative.
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great interview, we will recognize such a great work.

high value interview to listen to
thanks.

Very informative blog.
nice to read.
good work
thanks for the posting.

It's wonderful to see that native American Indians are beginning to emerge into well documented and inspirational members of society. One day they may even be given the apology they so deserve. I really enjoyed the the article and gain some interesting and educational insight.

I have gone through similar times and it is great to see someone come through it as well!

Great interview. I would like to have an interview with this guy for my page.

Really very nice blog...
After a long time to find this kind of content...

Excellent, brilliant interview.

Your culture travels far. Even here in the very far south west of the United Kingdom in the county of Cornwall... there are many people with an avid interest in your fascinating culture.

Although us Celts are not too similar in many respects, I guess if we do share a common similarity... it's in our combined oral storytelling traditions.

Thank you very much indeed for posting this up.

Onen Hag Oll (One and All in the Cornish (Kernow) native language))

Mark Andrews
Cornwall UK

It's very nice and inspiring. There are many people in this world who are heroes but most will never get that recognition.

Best Regards,

Joe P.

Great to see this culture still being preserved, keep up the education!

Thank you for sharing your stories.

I am very glad to see that there is still hope. In my country the education is very low because the economic climate. You really are great!

Thanks,

Andrew

inspiring one!! great work!!

Great story.

Very informative blog.
Thanks

About Indians. Great!!!!

John

I met Kevin by accident once while I was taking some photos on vacation and he was a thoroughly interesting man.

Very interesting.

"This museum is really attempting to redefine a number of things. In particular and most importantly, it’s trying to redefine how Indians are represented in the museum world, and establishing a requirement that in order to represent these communities properly the community has to be deeply involved in the development of any sort of content"

I think that's very important and I hope it goes good.

I find this very interesting. I find myself 43 years old, sober, and wondering what to do. I believe I will return to school. Thanks to the commentor. If 63 is too old to go to school than 43 certainly isn't.

Very interesting blog, it is difficult to find a blog with high quality content like this, from already thank you very much.

It is fitting and just darn 'right' that an Indian community's members be involved in the decisions about what goes into their displays and stories in any U.S. museum. GD.

This was a great post. Thanks for the read :)

I think that is very important from public point of view.

very happy to read your blog.
thank you for sharing,I enjoyed the article.

Great and interesting story.
Thank you.

Thanks for this insightful information. I really enjoyed it. You provided some great values here.

Thanks

Mr Gover sounds like a very interesting person. I would love to hear more about his opinions on native american history! Thank you for posting this interview!

Really really unique, good post, keep writing please.

It's the stories and people like these that give those of us who work with heritage and in museums the inspiration to work harder. Excellent article!

Diane

The museum is interesting. I especially enjoyed the piece on law and civil rights.

nice info,
thanks for sharing.. :)

I really enjoy reading such a inspiring article like this. Keep it up

I agree with Mark's comments above. This interview is pertinent to many communities worldwide where storytelling is an important part of the heritage. Her in Cornwall, stories have been passed down through many generations. Many stories are delivered through songs such as sea shanties.
Tom in Cornwall

It really is good and important to have a good memorable childhood! and glad you did.

And also having the courage and will to overcome alcoholism and even share with the public this personal journey!

Best regards!

November 25, 2010

StoryCorps Interview with NMAI's Jacquetta Swift (Comanche/Fort Sill Apache)

This week the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian will share the stories of five Native staffers as part of American Indian Heritage Day and the StoryCorps’ 2010 National Day of Listening, a holiday started by the nonprofit organization StoryCorps in 2008. Both holidays fall on the same day this year—Friday, Nov. 26.

Swift for Web Today’s interview features Jacquetta Swift (Comanche/Fort Sill Apache), the museum’s repatriation manager. She works with Terry Snowball at the museum’s Cultural Resources Center to return human remains and sacred objects to communities across the Western hemisphere, from Alaska and Arizona to Chile and Peru.

It was through NMAI’s New York branch, the George Gustav Heye Center (GGHC) in Manhattan, that Swift first became involved with the museum.   After staff at the GGHC learned about a powwow Swift had organized in 1993, they asked her to coordinate the inaugural celebration of the museum’s induction into the Smithsonian Institution the following year. “It’s a great experience to be here and to work in this field and to work with Native people and work for Native people,” Swift said during her conversation with Keevin Lewis (Navajo), the museum’s community services coordinator. “It’s been a real honor.”

On organizing a powwow in New York to combat homesickness:

Jackie Swift-Powwow (Click to Play)

EXCERPT: “I had recently gotten married, and I had moved to New York City. I had worked so long to get away from Oklahoma that once I got away … I was like, Wow, I’m really homesick. And I thought, how can I create that sense of home and have more Native folks around me … And I actually thought, You know it’d be great to bring the Apache Fire Dancers here.”  

On shifts in the museum’s approach to repatriation:

Jackie Swift-Shift in Repatriation (Click to Play)

EXCERPT: “At the museum’s inception it was known that human remains and funerary objects were the biggest priority for return … As the years have gone by, what we saw was that tribes were coming forward and saying we appreciate that you want to return human remains, but they’ll say, 'We’re not ready to have them returned,' or 'That’s not our priority. We would like these sacred objects, or these cultural patrimony objects returned to the community because we have elders that are dying, we have this need in the community to perpetuate our ceremonies and our culture and our way of life, and we can’t until we have these things returned.'”

On the concept of repatriation law:

Jackie Swift-Repatriation Lessons (Click to Play)

 EXCERPT: “It’s interesting that we have to have … a law that tells U.S. citizens that it’s not OK for you to have our ancestors in your museums … It’s not OK that you, or whoever, dug these up in the first place and took the funerary objects that were with them and sometimes, in some cases, disassociated them … So this is an effort to try and correct that wrong that has been done. And I think anybody, regardless of Native or non-Native, can appreciate the fact that no one would ever want to have their grandmother or their family members dug up so they could have the trinkets or just examine their bones.”

On participating in the D.C. museum's 2004 opening procession:

Jackie Swift-Epiphany (Click to Play)

EXCERPT: "I was taking these Cheyenne/Arapaho kids up the Mall, these little high school kids ... and I saw walking toward me these guys from the Amazon rainforest, you know they had barely any clothes on and paint decorating their bodies and no shoes and it was just one of those sort of surreal moments when you were like, “Look at this. Look at this juxtaposition.” And they’re kind of looking around at the diversity of people that were there, and I firmly believe that at no time in our history, no time in our future, will we have that many indigenous peoples and their tribal leaders at one place at one time. So that was kind of an epiphany moment for me."

The National Day of Listening is an effort to encourage all Americans to honor a friend, loved one, or member of their community by interviewing them about their lives. StoryCorps has created a free do-it-yourself interview guide with equipment recommendations and interview instructions available online at www.nationaldayoflistening.org.

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I am from scotland and have enjoyed reading your blog , will keep an eye out for new blogs.

November 24, 2010

StoryCorps Interview with NMAI's Ramsey Weeks (Assiniboine/Hidatsa)

This week the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian is sharing the stories of five Native staffers as part of American Indian Heritage Day and the StoryCorps' 2010 National Day of Listening, a holiday started by the nonprofit organization StoryCorps in 2008. Both holidays fall on the same day this year—Friday, Nov. 26.

Ramsey Weeks So far, we’ve heard from KJ Jacks (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) and Terry Snowball (Prairie Band Potawatomi/ Wisconsin Ho-Chunk).  Today’s interview is with Ramsey Weeks (Assiniboine/Hidatsa). As one of the museum’s Cultural Interpreters, Weeks leads daily tours and education workshops, offering visitors a chance to see the museum through Native eyes and learn about the museum’s objects from a Native perspective. 

His job often involves challenging long-held stereotypes about American Indians—no easy task.

“People will come up and say, 'Did Indians make that tipi or real people?' Well, that’s a great opportunity for education. You have just told me who I really need to target in this group of people in front of me, and who I really need to focus on to make sure they get something out of this,” Weeks said during his conversation with Molly Stephey, of NMAI’s public affairs office. And often, Weeks can pinpoint the moment during his tours when he makes an impact on students. “I don’t see a light bulb so much as a light in their eyes. Their eyes open really big, that a-ha moment. And for me, if I get that just once a week, that is reason enough to continue in this job.”

Before joining NMAI in 2008, Weeks worked at a Living History museum in Colorado.

On using objects and photographs to dispel myths during tours:

Ramsey Weeks-School Tours (Click to Play)

EXCERPT: “I have this wonderful picture of me dressed up in traditional clothing. I like to hold that, “Who is this? Is this person more Native than me?” And most of the kids will look at that traditional clothing and say, “Yep, that person’s more Indian than you.” And then they’re very shocked when I was, “That is me!” It’s a great little learning moment for them to see that clothing doesn’t make a person Native, it doesn’t make a person more or less Native.”

EXCERPT:  “One of my favorite objects is actually part of our permanent gallery in “Our Universes.” It’s a small pin cushion done by a lady of Mohawk descent in 1902. It actually has what appears on it a beaded swastika. We get more questions about that item in the museum than any other single item. I actually find it a really useful item to talk about ideas of cultural perspective, the cultural lens. Because we look at that item, we have that feeling come up -- swastika, what are these Indians doing with a swastika? -- but then we’re able to explain that it actually represents the North Star. From my own culture, it’s the coming together of the four winds, it’s a whirlwind symbol.”

On working at a “Living History” museum:

Ramsey Weeks-Living History (Click to Play)

 EXCERPT: “There was the stereotype that, as Native people, we should obviously know all of the things that traditional Native people knew, like tanning hides. I have never learned to tan a hide. You throw one down in front of me and tell me to tan it, I’m going to give you a very odd look. This is not something I know.”

On lesser-known Native beliefs and traditions:

Ramsey Weeks-Two-Spirit Society (Click to Play)

 EXCERPT: “I do like talking about two-spirit societies in particular. One, it’s just a part of culture that a lot of people don’t know exist. It’s a part of culture that’s really fascinating and amazing and there’s just not a lot of public knowledge about this ... The two-spirit of course, the way I generally preface it is to say, the two-spirit—in my culture we call them “wikkitan” —were men who dressed as women, did the work of women, were treated in all respects as women, even to the point that they could marry other men.”

 

The National Day of Listening is an effort to encourage all Americans to honor a friend, loved one, or member of their community by interviewing them about their lives. StoryCorps has created a free do-it-yourself interview guide with equipment recommendations and interview instructions available online at www.nationaldayoflistening.org.

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Hi,

Wow loved the article for me its great to challenge beliefs and values that form our identity. I have now been doing this for myself for at least 10 years consciously, what has happened as a result of educating myself and embracing the different cultures is I have beome very flexible and tollerant to other people behaviour.

I try to remember that "the behaviour is NOT the person" its often just a mirror reflecting their internal though processes which are created by beliefs and values, when I also see others gently questioning other people beliefs it amazing its the only way we will adapt and learn to work in a world where we have many multi cultural societies.

Steve

It's surprising how similar fashion is across the globe! We realize that most of the trends you have at AUC are prevalent here at Stanford as well. On the other hand, your description of styles at AUC seems to be influenced mainly by European styles whereas the "Californian" style is more dominant here at Stanford.

Great blog! I genuinely love how it is easy on my eyes as well as the info are well written.
I am wondering how I may be notified whenever a new post has been made.
I have subscribed to your rss feed which need to do the trick! Have a nice day!

Thank you for this, my grandfather is actually full Cherokee. So I really have a passion for the culture of Native Americans. Ramsey definitely provides a lot of great insight.

Thanks

November 23, 2010

Behind the Scenes at NMAI's Cultural Resources Center

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The Cultural Resources Center from the wooded north side of the grounds.

By Katy Underwood, NMAI Intern

Ever wonder where the approximately 800,000 archaeological, ethnographic, historic, and contemporary objects from the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian are stored when they aren’t on display? The Cultural Resources Center (CRC) in Suitland, Maryland, is home to collections and research programs for the museum. The staff members who work there specialize in the conservation, research, and cataloguing of objects, media resources, photographs, and paper archives for the museum. 

Before the CRC was built, the museum realized that creating a suitable place for the proper handling and conservation of Native American cultural pieces would require collaboration between architects and Native American cultural leaders. During consultations about what the building should embody, it was decided that the CRC would be a place where Native people could visit and interact with their collections. As the head of conservation, Marian Kaminitz, describes those meetings, “There was a sense that the building should feel more like a home instead of a warehouse.” The museum decided that the CRC should be accessible and welcoming to Native communities and non-Native researchers alike.

6a01156f5f4ba1970b0147e0190f83970b-800wi
A bronze statue of Chief Joseph, created by artist Doug Hyde (Nez Perce/Assiniboine/
Chippewa), stands near the building's east-facing entrance.

Native communities were directly involved in designing the building and surrounding area. The architects incorporated Native values along with museum requirements. Visitors walk in from the east and enter a wide circular space. For visitors less attuned to those cultural symbols, the most distinct feature of the building is its connection to nature. Large windows provide natural light, and the four cardinal directions align with key locations throughout the building. Materials and colors are inspired by the elements in nature, and native grasses, shrubs, and trees are a part of the unstructured landscape. Outside the entrance, a quiet stream and a fountain encircled in shells emphasize Native peoples’ relationship with the natural elements. This connection with nature is important to Native communities, and these and other sites on the grounds are used for Native care practices, such as blessings.

DSC_5534
The water fountain, ringed with shell.

Walking throughout the building, you feel the flow of the design. The architect, James Polshek & Partners, and the Native American Design Collaborative worked together with the staff to figure out the best areas to put certain work sections to create this sense of flow. The registration space, for example, is placed right next to the photography studio; when a newly acquired object or collection comes into the CRC, it takes a path from accessioning to photography to cataloguing.  A survey of the collections was conducted to determine how much room was needed for storage and care, although some of the original ideas did not hold up. Designers had the idea to place sacred materials high up out of range from the other cultural material. Most Native people, however, wanted their sacred materials to stay with the rest of their cultural objects. So instead of using the mezzanine to store sacred objects, the museum houses the collections by cultures, with their relative storage locations based on the cardinal points.

Objects being conserved by staff at the CRC:

DSC_5551

Foreground: Niuam (Comanche) man's headdress, 2/1294. Background: White Mountain Apache girl's shirt, 20/8053.

DSC_5553

Yup'ik hand drum, 25/9845.

The shirt is being prepared for loan to Nohwike' Bagowa, the White Mountain Apache Cultural Center in Fort Apache, Arizona; the headdress and drum, with its feathers properly attached, will be displayed outside the Rasmuson Theater at the museum on the National Mall.

Native constituents can schedule a visit to the CRC to request to see their specific collections, although viewing is limited for sacred or ceremonial objects. The building itself is worth the journey. It is a complex piece of architecture surrounded by an unstructured, beautiful landscape that honors the Native peoples’ connection to nature.  And it is a wonderful home to thousands of cultural pieces.

Photos by Molly Stephey, NMAI Public Affairs

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Thank you very nice site