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August 22, 2012

This Day in the Maya Calendar (Late Summer 2012)

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). The glyphs representing the Day lords were painted by Esteban Pop Caal (Q'eqchi Maya).

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. Photo by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI. Glyphs representing the Day lords appear throughout Maya Country. 

13 Kan  |  Monday, September 17, 2012 

262685_KanCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 13 Kan. Kan is the Snake; 13 is the highest turbulence. Kan is the ancient origin—Gucumatz, the Plumed Serpent. This is a day of strict and impartial justice, a day of definition and maturity, and a good day to offer respect and to thank the corn. On Kan, matters of justice, judges, and courts can be cleared up. This is a good day to pray that truth and justice manifest in the Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth; a good day to put aside jealousies and request equilibrium in life and in the family. It is a day to ask for physical strength and patience, to contemplate our spiritual evolution, and to rekindle the internal fire. —Jose Barreiro 

12 Kat  |  Sunday, September 16, 2012 

262685_KatCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 12 Kat. Kat is Spider, also Web and Fire; 12 is the highest balance. On Kat, the unity of the people is paramount, and knowledge is deepened. Kat is the network of the sacred heart, the family hearth. Today is a good day to pray for your family fireplace, the spirit of the fire that belongs in the home, the one that calls other spirits to ceremony and speaks for them. Kat is the net that hauls in the fish and the net that holds the ears of corn, a day that can bring the fruition of things and the untangling of complications. This is a good day to help free prisoners from captivity, to request vigor and power for the weak. —J. B. 

11 Aqbal  |  Saturday, September 15, 2012 


Corresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 11 Aqbal. Aqbal is the Dawn, also Bat; 11 is high turbulence. Aqbal is clarity, the separation of darkness and light as the Sun disperses the fog and obscurity of night. This is a good day to ask for a peaceful and happy daybreak, a day to find hidden and lost things, a day to wash away tears of sadness. On Aqbal, the sacred fire is recognized and appreciated. Aqbal is a good day to clean the ashes (renew the heart) of a fireplace and to present a new baby to el Mundo. A potential bride or groom can be revealed on this day. Harvesting of corn can begin on this day. 

People born on Aqbal relate in the present and are a special link between past and future. They are early risers, good workers, tranquil and kind, strong before an enemy, good researchers and finders of hidden things, often called "the candle of the home." —J. B. 

10 Iq  |  Friday, September 14, 2012 


Corresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 10 Iq. Iq is Wind, also Moon; 10 is a high balance. Wind is powerful, violent, driven of itself, identity. A day of strong emotion, Iq is also a healing day. Good wind is nutritional for human minds; it is the mystic breath and vital inspiration of nature. On Iq, a breeze or wind that splits against your face is a blessing and a cleansing to purge your head and body of illness. Respiratory ills are prayed over on this day. 

This is a good day to appreciate all of Creation. The Day lord Iq is one of the four Yearbearers, or mams, a creator who helped finish the world and put breath (essence) in human beings. People born on Iq are inclined toward spiritual ways and can impulsively tap into cosmic sources. —J. B.  

9 Imox  |  Thursday, September 13, 2012 

262685_ImoxCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 9 Imox. Imox is Lizard; 9 is a triple rotor. Imox is the very force of gravity and a good day to pray for creativity and for rain. Imox can open el Mundo to receive cosmic messages. Known as a "crazy" day, Imox requires much concentration and control. A day of high male intelligence, also impatience and agitation, Imox can be difficult. Grounded on its left side, left arm, this day is easily unbalanced and in need of clasping left and right hands. Imox can be good if held in the balance of the Heart of Sky and Heart of Earth; unattended, Imox can manifest imbalance, mental nervousness, and even death. People born on Imox are open and sincere, but indecisive—in need of ceremony to set the positive to override the negative. —J. B.  

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Digitizing the Museum's Photo Archives: 75,000 Images and Counting

By Will Greene

My primary function at the National Museum of the American Indian is the creation of digital versions of the museum’s extensive archive of tens of thousands of historical photographic negatives, prints, transparencies, and lantern slides. Digitization affords many benefits both to the collection itself and to users of the archive. Direct handling of archival materials is rendered largely unnecessary, and the possibility of damage or loss is correspondingly dramatically reduced. Because the image files contain detailed embedded information on the date and time of digitization (along with many other things), each is a snapshot condition report on the photograph showing scratches, discoloration, tears, cracked glass, etc. Once digitized, an image can be printed, burned to a disk, or transmitted over a network or the Internet. Digital copies can be created in a variety of file sizes and formats, and every copy will duplicate the detail and tonality of the original digital image much more closely than was possible with traditional silver image photo technology. Once entered into a searchable database, the photos can be accessed and analyzed rapidly and efficiently by anyone with computer access.

Over the course of my career at NMAI, I have been able to digitize more than 75,000 photos, making substantial inroads into the overall task. In the early years we suffered through some fits and starts in determining standards, but once those were established we began to accumulate significant digital resources. Initially materials were digitized in response to end-user requests, both from internal and external institutions and individuals. In the years leading up to the opening of the museum on the National Mall in Washington, creating new digitizations for exhibitions and books took most of my time. As the museum’s digital resources have grown and new tools for search and retrieval have come along, more and more image requests can be fulfilled from existing image files. This has afforded an opportunity to direct further digitization efforts in a more rational and focused way, concentrating on completion of significant collections or on materials that demand special handling or are particularly fragile. 

One such project is digitizing the Churchill collection. Frank C. Churchill (1859–1912) was an inspector of reservations for the U.S. government from 1899 to 1909. In this position, Churchill traveled the country from Florida to Alaska, often with his wife, Clara. As an avid photographer he assembled a significant personal archive. The museum collection contains some 469 negatives and 3,710 prints housed in 28 photo albums.

The photo albums present a number of challenges. Hundred-year-old leather covers and album pages wrinkled with age must be handled very carefully. The pages have been interleaved with acid free paper to prevent deterioration, and this material must be removed and replaced each time you turn a page. Any handling of these old albums, no matter how careful, will result in some debris and the scanning equipment must be cleaned constantly. It’s a time-consuming process, and the best, most efficient method is to go through each album completely and digitize every print that has relevance to the museum. 

Because most of the photos in the albums have not been widely seen, I’ve tried to use broad criteria in deciding which images to scan. I’m looking for named individuals (many of the photographs have information on the date, location, and tribe); folks wearing traditional apparel and/or engaged in traditional crafts or activities; significant and/or traditional structures (such as the Cherokee National Capitol in 1905 or an Apache wikiup in 1899); group photos which have dates and locations (there are lots of school groups); photos of the creators of the albums (but not every one—the Churchills loved to photograph each other); or gatherings like dances, ceremonies, etc., especially when a date and location are noted. I’ve also included some images of famous and much-photographed places, mostly in the Southwest—Mesa Verde, various pueblos, etc., where the date is given, as these might prove useful to anyone tracking the changes in these places.

I think perhaps the greatest value of the albums is the caption material linking the images to a particular time and place with a very high degree of reliability. This greatly enhances their research value. 


The photograph above—which was given the museum catalog number P23360_143—was taken at the Santa Fe Indian School circa 1904. It is captioned in the margin, “Just arrived—Navajo Indian girls.” Then, “Several of these girls had never seen a white man until they met the clerk of the agency who brought them to the school.”

Unfortunately, many photographs' captions, like this one, fail to record the subjects' names. Sometimes the museum has been able to recover that information, working with tribal museums and scholars. By sharing digitized images with more viewers, I hope the museum will reach community and family members who can help us link photographs to individual lives and histories. 

You don’t have to know the whole sad history of the government boarding schools, however, to look at the faces of these six girls and see the fear, anger, anxiety, and resentment written there. Sometimes a picture is truly worth a thousand words, and we’ve got lots and lots of pictures. 

Will Greene is a digital imaging specialist on the museum's Photo Services staff. This is the first in a series of blog posts about his work and the museum's photography collections.

If you have information about a photograph Will discusses, and you would rather not post it as a comment, you can reach him via email at NMAISocialMedia@si.edu. 

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quite amazing to see picture clarity of that time.

It is a great work that the the National Museum of the American Indian has created digital versions of the museum’s extensive archive of tens of thousands of historical photographic negatives, prints, transparencies, and lantern slides. This digitization affords have many benefits to the users of the archive. Thanks a lot to them.

August 05, 2012

Webcasting the Fourth Museum: A User Guide

By Mark Christal 

A few definitions to begin:

webcast, n. The broadcast of an event over the Internet.

Fourth Museum, n. In the parlance of the National Museum of the American Indian, all of the efforts to provide access to museum programming and other resources to audiences outside the three “brick-and-mortar” facilities—the museum on the National Mall, NMAI in New York City, and the Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland.

Our museum is much more than just its exhibitions. We put on movies, musical performances, plays, dances, lectures, seminars, artist workshops, storytelling, and the like. Many of our potential audiences for these offerings cannot make it to the museum to enjoy them. Through the Fourth Museum/museum-without-walls/virtual museum concept, we want to bring the museum to the public, wherever people are, though computers and mobile devices.

One “gallery” of our Fourth Museum is webcasting. We have been working recently to expand our webcast offerings. I hope this brief guide will make NMAI’s webcasts easier to find and enjoy.  

You can find the museum's calendar of events via the CALENDAR link at the top right of AmericanIndian.si.edu. To see quickly which events will be webcast, filter the listings BY CATEGORY.

Finding NMAI's Live Webcasts

 One way to find out if a particular program is being offered as a webcast is to look up the event on NMAI's calendar on our web site, which can be accessed from a link in the banner of the museum's home page.

The calendar can be filtered to show just webcasts. The filters are in the left column as you look at the calendar.  A quick way to see just the webcasts is first to click "Select: None" at the bottom of the BY CATEGORY area, and then to check the “Webcasts & Webinars” box. 

Clicking on the title of an event in the calendar will bring up a page with a detailed description of the event. If the program will be webcast, the page will include “Part of the Series: Live Webcasts” near the bottom of the detailed description. There is also a link to our webcast page in the description. All our live webcasts can be accessed on our webcast page at the time of the event,

The webcasts are recorded, and most of them will show up shortly after the event on NMAI's YouTube channel. Under Featured Playlists there are several playlists of past webcasts. New ones are added frequently, so visiting our YouTube channel is a great way to keep up with the programming at the museum.

Another way to keep track of our webcast schedule is to check out the NMAI blog. We will be putting up posts about upcoming webcasts here as well. 

Upcoming Live Webcasts


Quechua Storytelling
Andean Storytelling with Julia Garcia (Quechua). Webcast Sunday, August 5, 2012, at 11 AM and 2 PM EDT.

Storyteller Julia Garcia, who was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia, has devoted herself to teaching the richness of the Quechua language through radio programs, dance, song, and theatre. From NMAI's imagiNATIONS Activity Center, Julia shares the story of Quwiwan Atujwan, the Andean Fox and the Guinea Pig, a bilingual family-friendly program. 

Arvel Bird
Indian Summer Showcase presents Arvel Bird (Southern Paiute). Webcast Wednesday, August 8, 2012, at noon and 5 PM EDT.

From the beautiful Rasmuson Theater, the museum's Indian Summer Showcase bring you violinist and flutist Arvel Bird, who is known around the world for his dramatic connection between Celtic and Native American traditions. Dubbed “Lord of the Strings” by fans and music critics, Bird's music evokes the soul of North American history in a thoroughly entertaining, but also enlightening and humanizing, performance. 

Jim Thorpe
Jim Thorpe: World's Greatest Athlete. Webcast Friday, August 17, 2012, at 2 PM EDT.

In conjuction with the exhibition Best in the World: Native Athletes in the Olympics, NMAI presents this fascinating lecture on Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox), is the greatest all-around athlete of his age. Biographer Robert W. Wheeler will share stories and rare recordings and photographs about the athlete. Dr. Florence Ridlon will speak on the Jim Thorpe Olympic medals and records controversy and her role in the movement to get them restored to his name. Rob Wheeler will discuss the movement to return Thorpe's remains to be buried on Sac and Fox Nation land in Oklahoma. 

Subjects of NMAI webcasts coming this fall and winter include Native American astronomy, American Indian mascots, President Richard Nixon’s legacy of Native American rights, and the Mayan Calendar. New webcast programs are being added frequently, so check out the NMAI Blog and our calendar regularly.





Mark Christal produces the museum's webcasts. 

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Specially Like your images you have post. Excellent images.

August 03, 2012

Indian Country in the News: July 27 - August 3, 2012

This week's news highlights include a story about indigenous resistance against illegal logging in Mexico, a plea to pass tougher anti-violence laws protecting American Indian woman, mandatory evictions for non-Indians living on Seneca land in upstate New York, and the celebration and sorrow over sacred white buffaloes in Connecticut and Texas:

  • NYTimes: In Mexico, Reclaiming the Forests and the Right to Feel Safe - "On the morning of April 15, 2011, using rocks and fireworks, a group of women attacked a busload of AK-47-armed illegal loggers as they drove through Cherán, residents said. The loggers, who local residents say are protected by one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organizations and given a virtual free pass by the country’s authorities, had terrorized the community at will for years. Cherán’s residents said they had been subjected to multiple episodes of rape, kidnapping, extortion and murder by the paramilitary loggers, who have devastated an estimated 70 percent of the surrounding oak forests that sustained the town’s economy and indigenous culture for centuries."
  • CSMonitor: Pass a Violence Against Women Act that protects American Indian women - "Violence against women is a distressingly common problem in all segments of US society, but American Indian women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual and domestic violence. Data show that a shocking 1 in 3 American Indian women have been raped in their lifetime – twice the national average. The rate of domestic violence victimization is even higher, with more than 2 out of 5 American Indian women experiencing violence at the hands of a husband or boyfriend."
  • AP: NY tribe moves to evict non-Indians - "The Seneca Nation, a native American tribe in western New York known for its defiant stances on sovereignty, said Friday that it would evict around 80 families living in a lakeshore community on its territory because the residents aren't members of the tribe. The action covers an area on the shores of Lake Erie called Snyder Beach, now dotted with summer cottages, many of which are occupied by people who have been there for decades. Tribal leaders said in a written statement that they want the families out by Nov. 8."
  • NPR: One White Buffalo To Get Sacred Name; Death Of Another Still Stirs Anger - "Hundreds of Native Americans are expected to gather Saturday at a former dairy farm in Goshen, Conn., to hold a sacred naming ceremony for what they hope is a rare white buffalo. Mark Herz from NPR member station WSHU catches up with the story for All Things Considered in a report due to air later today. As he says, the calf's DNA still needs to be tested to confirm that he truly is a white buffalo — "or bison, as they are more properly known." But, "test results or no," many Native Americans are planning to be there tomorrow."

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