The Nation participates in a cultural exhibit
By Don Decker, YAN news
The opening of the ‘Native Peoples of the Colorado Plateau’ drew many visitors from various Indian nations of northern Arizona on Saturday, April 14 at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff.
This special exhibit which will be up until the end of May features all of the tribes located in northern Arizona including the Acoma Pueblo as well as the Zuni community who are both located in New Mexico. The Zuni have traditional lands near St. Johns, Arizona so this is how they receive recognition as an Arizona Indian tribe.
Various tribal governmental representatives spoke including the Hopi Nation, Hualapai Nation, Supai Nation, Acoma-Pueblo and Yavapa-Apache Nation with Chairwoman Jane Russell-Winiecki.
The presentations of each area placed along the wall was carefully done with small viewing video screens that flashed photographic scenes intermittently every few seconds from those communities participating in the show. All of the items were placed behind protective glass.
Yavapai-Apache Nation featured some historical black and white photographs in addition to contemporary photographs donated from the public relations department of the Nation. Other items featured old baskets and a highly decorated buckskin dress used in puberty rite ceremonies.
The plateau show also had an interactive work table in the middle of the exhibit hall that allows visitors to smell different herbal plants such sage and trees indigenous to the area. The center display table also had an incased protective plastic case featuring contemporary items used by Indian people such as the skate board.
Both culture departments from the Yavapai-Apache Nation were in attendance. Vincent Randall (Apache culture) and Gertie Smith (Yavapai culture) gave their greetings and made brief remarks about the history of their people. Mr. Randall gave an Apache prayer and sang a holy song.
Dr. Robert Breunig who is former CEO and President Emeritus of the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) and current Director/ CEO of MNA Carrie Heinonen organized this special show along with other team members of the museum in Flagstaff.
Dr. Breunig greeted all of the visitors after the visitors to mixed with one another prior to the opening of the exhibit.
“We are just so honored that you are here. We hope you like what has come about here and to have everybody helping us with this. We are honored for a lot of good feelings,” he said.
Other key individuals addressing the visitors included James Ugualla of the Supai Nation who is a former chairman.
“It is a good day for your presence physically– at this moment– is divine and blessed by the gatekeeper—the source. The Colorado Plateau surrounding the ultimate of medicine altars which is the Grand Canyon. We were strategically placed for the legacy of time and each of you were given the traditions, the ritual to be able to carry on the spiritual brilliance that is allowed for our people to survive, the key word here is “Our”. We are brothers and sisters,” said Ugualla.
Stewart B.Koyiyumptewa, Director of Hopi Cultural Preservation Office spoke about the precariousness of the drought In the southwest.
“All of these items that we see today really have to do with water (the clay pots) and we’ve had a dry winter. We pray through our talents and incorporate that with our crafts. And without water, that makes us work extra hard just to survive. We want the best for the place we call home. I have wondered how our ancestors survived in times like these we are experiencing right now,” said Mr. Koyiyumptewa referring to the on-going drought in the southwest.
The Jones Benally family representing the Navajo Nation also offered a traditional prayer song that was sung by the family along with Rose Darden, a Flagstaff Navajo community member.
Ms. Darden and husband Steve Darden are the cornerstone of the Native American community activities in Flagstaff. She offered a Navajo prayer with the pollen.
The ‘Native Peoples of the Colorado Plateau’ exhibition is now a permanent collection display.
There is a discounted admission fee for tribal members to enter the museum.
YAN New photos.