June 25, 2004
The exhibit The American Indian Center Celebrates 50 Years of Powwow provided many opportunities for community involvement. Like last fall’s Kimono exhibit, Powwow resulted in wonderful collaborations between the Museum, traveling artists, and local organizations. Through the generosity of Curt Tucker and the Verde Gallery, the Museum was able to host a lecture by Hopi abstract artist DeHaven Solimon Chaffins and a jewelry-making demonstration by Navajo artist Ben Yellowhorse.
Among the educational events offered to the public and area schools was a performance at Urbana High School by Northern Cheyenne educator and artist Larry Lockwood. Through his program of song, drum, dance, and discussion, students learned how powwows are important to American Indians today, both as intertribal celebrations and as powerful expressions of cultural identity and pride. In discussion, Mr. Lockwood emphasized the ways that many long-held traditions are relevant in today’s world, including respect for Mother Nature and her life-giving force.
On Saturday, June 19, Director of Education Tandy Lacy led families in an exploration of the Powwow exhibit and the Gallery of American Indian Cultures. Children, parents, and grandparents listened to the sounds of Grandfather Drum and learned about the significance of the Four Circles of Powwow. In the Americas gallery, participants examined several artifacts that reflect the longstanding importance of the natural world in the creation of articles used in daily life, in celebration, and in ceremony.
In the Rowe Learning Center, the concept of the talking stick was introduced. When people gather to share ideas and make decisions, it is important to hear all points of view in discussion. In many American Indian cultures, this value is upheld by the tradition of passing a stick to the person whose turn it is to speak. Different people voice their ideas and opinions without interruption while holding the stick. Before leaving the Museum, each person created a distinctly personal talking stick to use with family and friends.
50 Years of Powwow is on display through June 26. Join us in July to visit the new Focus Gallery exhibit Illinois: An Epic Landscape. This collaboration with the Illinois Natural History Survey provides a colorful overview of Illinois’ highly diverse natural areas and the creatures that inhabit them, with a special look at the cypress swamps of the Cache River.