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December 20, 2012

This Day in the Maya Calendar (Winter 2012–13)

Cholq'ij, the Maya sacred ceremonial calendar of 260 days—a cycle of 20 Day deities and 13 numbers—is the basis of the Maya spirituality that survives to this time, practiced daily among millions of Maya people, in thousands of communities. The interpretation of the days can vary from one Maya people to another. The interpretations given here are based on sustained conversations and participation over three decades with Maya Q'eqchi calendar priest Roderico Teni and daykeeping families in the area of Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, by Jose Barreiro (Taíno), head of NMAI’s Office of Latin America, and his wife, Katsi Cook (Mohawk). Glyphs representing the Day lords appear throughout Maya Country; these were painted by Esteban Pop Caal (Q'eqchi Maya) of Cobán.

For more background to this series, please see Jose's introduction, "Living in the Practice." For further insight into the role of the Day lords in everyday life, please see the Maya Journal. For the complete year so far, please see the Maya calendar archive.

Illustrations: Esteban Pop Caal (Q'eqchi Maya), calendar glyphs. Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala; 2003. Paint on wood. Purchased from the artist. 26/2685. Photos by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI. 

13 Anil  |  Thursday, February 7, 2013

262685_AnilCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 13 Anil. Anil is the fertility in the seed, Anil is Rabbit; 13 is the highest imbalance. Anil is red, white, yellow, black—the four colors of corn, the seed of life that is the unity of the world. Anil is renewal after death, regeneration of the earth. Anil people are four-directions people and can be good travelers. This is a day of coming back, a day to generate and appreciate abundance, a day of declaring love to create a new relationship, a day to announce the wish to do business, a day of finding lost things, a day to ask for help in overcoming shyness. —Jose Barreiro 

12 Kiej  |  Wednesday, February 6, 2013

262685_KiejCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 12 Kiej. Kiej is the Deer; 12 is the highest balance. Kiej is the four directions, four hoofs striking the earth at once, the quaternity of the cosmos linked to prayer, highest aviso to el Mundo—the living world. Kiej is the staff of authority, keen energy of a chief to detect danger, perception of the leader buck, his horns. Kiej is a good day to pray for mental and physical agility, a day of agile travelers and good communicators. It is a day also to ask for clarity before gossip and ill intentions. A major gift of nature, Kiej holds indefatigable energy. He is one of the four main carriers of time. —J. B.  

11 Kame  |  Tuesday, February 5, 2013

262685_KameCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 11 Kame. Kame is the Owl and the recognition of death; 11 is high turbulence. A day that recalls the night, tranquility, and silence, Kame is a good day to ask for the ancient and recent ancestors who have gone on, to thank them, and to remember them with purpose. This is an appropriate day to extend reconciliation, to feel and give forgiveness, to develop patience, to invoke against mortal illnesses, to access superior knowledge. Without fear, it is a good day to approach the spiritual dimension, "the enchantment." —J. B. 


Continue reading "This Day in the Maya Calendar (Winter 2012–13) " »

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May I respectfully suggest a birthdate look up feature to allow people to input a mm/dd/yyyy and find the corresponding Mayan Calendar Day Deity/Number. Naturally, this may require that you complete entries for all 260 such combinations. Some (but not all) entries reference characteristics of those born on that day... this could be added for each entry upon completion of this magnificent project :)

December 12, 2012

Will the World End on December 21? Ask a Maya!

Will the world end come to an end on December 21? We certainly hope not; we have some great webcasts coming up in January and February. But before we mention those, there’s a full weekend of webcasts to watch from the museum's Guatemalan festival December 15 & 16.

The name of festival,which takes place throughout the museum, is Bak´tun 13: A Guatemalan Celebration of Time. 13 Bak´tun—the date on the Maya Long Count calendar coinciding with December 21, 2012—marks the end of a 5,125-year era and a new beginning as the Long Count resets. Guatemala is the heart of traditional Maya territory, which extends through most of Central America, including southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Belize. Far from reaching the end of time, the Maya are very much a living culture today. Definitely something to celebrate!

All of the museum's live webcasts can be accessed via http://americanindian.si.edu/webcasts.


Bak´tun 13: A Guatemalan Celebration of Time | Webcast Schedule

The Ways of the Days: Maya Calendar Tradition and the Way of Life 
Saturday, December 15, 11:30 am EST

Roderico Teni is a Maya–Qeqchi culture bearer who has worked on cultural preservation and social improvement in Maya communities of the Guatemalan highlands. He is also a Maya day-keeper, one of the spiritual guides who advise communities, in part by consulting the 260-day sacred calendar, Tzolk´in (called the Chol Q´ij in K´iche´ Mayan). Jose Barreiro, director of the museum’s Office of Latin American, will facilitate conversation about the Maya calendar and culture. Audience participation is welcomed, and our webcast audience is encouraged to participate via Twitter. Tweet your comments and questions to @SmithsonianNMAI using the hashtag #MayaCalendar.

Maya from the Inside: The 13 Bak´tun as Challenge to the Western Mind
Saturday, December 15, 2 pm EST

MontejoCalendar
Dr. Victor Montejo. Photo used with permission

Victor Montejo, a Jakaltek Maya originally from Guatemala, will talk on the deep meaning of Maya culture and history. An internationally recognized scholar, Dr. Montejo is the author of several major publications, including Testimony: Death of a Guatemalan Village; Voices from Exile: Violence and Survival in Modern Maya History; Maya Intellectual Renaissance: Critical Essays on Identity, Representation and Leadership; Popol Vuh: Sacred Book of the Mayas; and Q´anil: Man of Lightning. His current projects focus on indigenous migration and transnationalism, and developing a curriculum in Native knowledge and epistemology in his new manuscript, Mayalogue: An Interactionist Theory of Indigenous Cultures. The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions at the end of his presentation. Again, webcast audience members may tweet comments and questions to @SmithsonianNMAI using the hashtag #MayaCalendar. 

Bak’tun 13: A Guatemalan Celebration of Time
Sunday, December 16, noon EST 

Maya-weaving
Juanita Velasco (Ixil Maya). Photo by Walter Larrimore, NMAI

Three events will be featured in this webcast from the museum's Potomac Atrium: "Timeline of Guatemalan Fashion" shines a spotlight on Maya textiles from the 1930s to the present to show the changes that have impacted Maya textiles over the last 80 years. Following the look at textiles, enjoy the music of the traditional marimba under the direction of Fernando Salseño of Pequena Marimba Internacional. Finally, Grupo AWAL presents traditional dances from Concepcion Chiquirichapa in Guatemala. The dances are based on a cylindrical calendar cycle.

Bak’tun 13: A Guatemalan Celebration of Time
Sunday, December 16, 3 pm EST

Two festival events are repeated in this webcast: Traditional marimba under the direction of Fernando Salseño of Pequena Marimba Internacional and a presentation of traditional dances from Concepcion Chiquirichapa in Guatemala Grupo AWAL.


Upcoming Webcasts | January & February 2013

Assuming the world doesn’t end on December 21, more webcasts of events at the National Museum of the American Indian are coming in January and February. 

This Indian Country: American Indian Activists and the Place They Made
Friday, January 18, 2 to 3 pm EST

Join noted historian Frederick E. Hoxie as he talks about his new book, This Indian Country: American Indian Activists and the Place They Made, about political activism that led to hard-won victories in the courts and civil rights campaigns, rather than on the battlefield. It is a story of both famous and obscure Indian lawyers, tribal leaders, activists, and commentators who have sought to bridge the distance between indigenous cultures and the political institutions of the United States through legal and political debate. Dr. Hoxie’s powerful narrative connects the individual to the tribe, the tribe to the nation, and the nation to broader historical processes. Dr. Hoxie is the winner of the 2012 American Indian History Lifetime Achievement Award and a founding trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian.  

Out of Many: A Multicultural Festival of Music, Dance, and Story
January 18 to 20, 10 am to 5:30 pm EST

Who better than an Indian museum to say "Hail to the chief"? As our neighbor the U.S. Capitol hosts the presidential inauguration, we salute the occasion with a festival featuring music, dance, and storytelling throughout the museum. Check our online calendar as inauguration weekend approaches to see what we’re offering online. E pluribus unam! 

Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports 
Thursday, February 7, 10 am to 5:45 pm EST

RacistStereotypes
Illustration by Aaron Sechrist. Used with permission
Join us for a thought-provoking day examining one of the most persistent issues that divides Natives and non-Natives in our sports-loving land. This symposium of panel discussions presents commentators, scholars, authors, and representatives from sports organizations exploring the mythology and psychology of sports stereotypes and mascots, reaction to the NCAA’s policy against “hostile and abusive” names and symbols, and the on-going debate about the name and logo of the Washington, D.C., professional football organization. We invite the webcast public to join us in the conversation through Twitter. Tweet your comments and questions to @SmithsonianNMAI using the hashtag #RacistSportsLogos.

This program was originally scheduled for November 1, 2012, and was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy.  

Missed a Webcast?

If you missed a live webcast that you really wanted to see, don’t worry. We post nearly all of our webcasts on the NMAI YouTube Channel. You may find the webcast you're looking for in one of our playlists or by clicking the Browse Videos tab, where posted videos appear in reverse chronological order.

—Mark Christal, NMAI

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December 06, 2012

President Obama Hosts 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference

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Native American military veterans, including a member of the Native American Women Warriors, Marine Justin Fisher and a Navajo Code Talker from WWII (bottom right), take their seats at the closing session of the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference (Photo by Molly Stephey, NMAI)

On Wednesday, Dec. 5, President Barack Obama hosted the 4th annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, a day-long event that brings together leaders and representatives from the country's 566 federally recognized tribes and members of the Obama administration. Calling it "the cornerstone of the Administration’s outreach and engagement with tribal governments," President Obama has held the conference each year since he took office as part of his original campaign pledge to improve nation-to-nation relations between Indian Country and the U.S. government. He is the first American President to hold annual meetings with Native American leaders.

This year's conference, held at the Department of the Interior's headquarters, began with opening remarks by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, (full remarks here), who highlighted several of the Interior Department's accomplishments during the past year, including payouts in the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement, a landmark case over mismanagement of federal lands held in trust for Native Americans.

First brought to court in 1996, the class-action lawsuit was led by plaintiff Elouise Cobell of Montana's Blackfeet Tribe, a trustee of the museum who passed away last year. When President Obama signed the settlement into law on Dec. 9, 2010, he called it a "small measure of justice" for the wrongdoings. (Read more about the Cobell settlement here.)

Remarks were also delivered by:

  • Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education (Full transcript here)
  • Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin, Department of the Treasury (Read the press release here)
  • Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank, Department of Commerce (Full transcript here)
  • Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services (Full transcript here)
  • Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture (Read the press release here)
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Members of the administration during the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference. L-R: Tony West, Acting Associate Attorny General, Dept. of Justice; Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, Director, Indian Health Service; Marie Johns, Deputy Administrator, Small Business Administration; Secretary Ray LaHood, Dept. of Transportation; and Secretary Hilda Solis, Dept. of Labor. (Photo by Molly Stephey, NMAI)

Following opening remarks, administration officials invited tribal leaders to attend breakout sessions that were closed to the public. The roundtables, led by various Obama administration officials, addressed various topics:

  • Strengthening Tribal Communities: Economic Development, Housing, Energy and Infrastructure, led by Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary, Department of Agriculture; and Marie Johns, Deputy Administrator, FEMA.
  • Protecting our Communities: Law Enforcement and Disaster Relief, led by James Cole, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice; and Craig Fugate, Administrator, FEMA.
  • Securing Our Future: Cultural Prottection, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, led by Hilary Tompkins, Solicitor, Department of the Interior; and Ignacia Moreno, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice.
  • Building Healthy Communities, Excellence in Education and Native American Youth, led by Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, Director, Indian Health Service; and Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education, White House Domestic Policy Council.
  • Strengthening and Advancing the Government-to-Government Relationship, led by Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes, Department of the Interior; and Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West, Department of Justice.

The closing session featured remarks by the leaders of each roundtable, as well as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

The Department of Justice's Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West noted that, for him, one of the main takeaways of the conference is that no two tribes are alike, and that these distinctions should be taken into consideration when shaping federal policy. The challenges facing landless tribes are vastly different than those confronting tribes whose federal recognition was terminated and later restored, he said.

Other concerns raised during the breakout sessions included:

  • The disproportionate effect of climate change on indigenous communities.
  • The rise of violence and drug trafficking on tribal land.
  • The effect of the fiscal cliff on Native American communities. 
  • Enforcing NAGRPA and protecting sacred tribal land and resources from mineral development.
  • Expanded education and suicide prevention for Native youth.
  • Internet and transportation infrastructure on reservations.

Read Indian Country Today's recap.   

Read MSNBC's What You Didn’t See at the White House Tribal Nations Summit.

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President Barack Obama addresses tribal leaders at the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference, Dec. 5. 2012 (Photo by Molly Stephey, NMAI)

After being welcomed onstage by Brian Cladoosby of the Swinomish Nation, President Obama delivered the conference's closing remarks. He began by paying tribute to tribal elder Sonny Black Eagle, who had adopted him into the Crow Nation during his 2008 campaign after he became the first Presidential candidate in history to visit the Crow reservation. Black Eagle passed away last week, just eight days shy of his 79th birthday.

“While we can’t celebrate that milestone with him today, we can celebrate his remarkable life and all that happened along the way," President Obama said. "Because Sonny’s story is not just one man’s journey to keep his culture alive, but one country’s journey to keep perfecting itself.”

Watch President Obama's full remarks on the White House website.

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President Barack Obama greets members of the audience following his remarks at the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference (Photo by Molly Stephey, NMAI)

In its executive summary for the Tribal Nations conference, the White House detailed its achievements for Indian Country during the President's first term, which included:

  • The HEARTH Act, which restores tribal authority to govern the leasing and management of their own lands.
  • The Tribal Law and Order Act, which improves coordination between federal law enforcement and tribal justice systems.
  • Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which was permanently reauthorized as part of the Affordable Care Act
  • In addition to Cobell case, the settlement of the Keepseagle class-action lawsuit, which awarded $680 million to 4,200 Native American farmers and ranchers who were systematically denied loans by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981 to 1999.

What do you think of the issues addressed at this year’s Tribal Nations Conference? What are some of the issues facing your communities? Share your thoughts with us!

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