Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Center in OH boosts reclaiming of tribe's language / Another View of American Indian Fine Art !

CINCINNATI (AP) — Daryl Baldwin was born around the time that his Miami Tribe of Oklahoma was losing its last generation of fluent speakers and facing the possibility that its language would die with them.

Fifty years later, a project that Baldwin directs at Miami University in southwest Ohio is making headway reclaiming and revitalizing the Myaamia language, through a collaboration that linguists around the country say is an outstanding role model to help save dormant languages from extinction. The collaborative project between the tribe and its namesake university recently became a full-fledged center on the Oxford campus, a move that university and linguists say enhances the project's efforts and expands access to grants and other resources.

"In 2001, I started out with just a desk in the library," said founding director of the center that now has full-time and part-time staff and student assistance.

The center serves as a research and development arm for the tribe, conducting research to help preserve the language and culture and developing educational materials to help with that. It has produced such tools as an online dictionary and mobile apps to help people learn and speak the language. It also exposes students throughout the university to efforts to revitalize the language and culture, providing visits to tribal headquarters, direct involvement in research, and class visits by center staff.

Tribal officials are pleased with the new center that they say gives more permanency to the effort to preserve their language and culture.

"It assures us that this will go on for a long time," said Julie Olds, cultural resources officer at the tribe's Miami, Okla., headquarters.

The Miami name is derived from the original Myaamia. The Myaamia people inhabited land now within the borders of Ohio — including the region where the university now stands — Illinois, and Indiana and parts of Michigan and Wisconsin, before government-forced relocations to territories that later became Kansas and Oklahoma.

The center grew out of a more than 40-year-old relationship between the university and the tribe, which has about 4,000 members and fewer resources than larger Native American groups working to save their languages. But tribal officials say the university partnership has provided research and development tools that the tribe would not have had otherwise and sparked a new desire— especially among young tribal members —to learn about their language and culture.

While it's difficult to determine how many people are now fluent in the language, "at least it is now being used again," Olds said. She said language and culture camps and workshops growing out of the partnership also are drawing young people, and even older ones.

"It's all about restoring knowledge to the Myaamia community, and the center is key," Olds said.

Haley Strass, a 22-year-old tribal member from Huntington, Ind., is among 21 students now attending Miami University on scholarships available to qualified tribal members. Her grandmother encouraged her to go there to seek more knowledge about their heritage.

"It's helped me determine who I am within the American culture, and see that I also have a place in the Native American population," Strass said.

She said her father's generation was mostly taught to suppress Native American culture for fear it would prevent acceptance by the wider society, and the director of the Salem, Ore.-based Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, says said one of the reasons languages are abandoned is that "speakers believe it could hold them back. "

"That perception isn't true, but it's difficult to fight," said institute director Gregory Anderson.

Nearly half of an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 languages spoken in the world today are in danger of disappearing in this century, according to linguists. But Anderson says the successful collaboration at Miami has been instrumental in fighting against language shifts, where original languages are abandoned in favor of others.

Mary Linn, associate curator of Native American Languages at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History at the University of Oklahoma, says about 17 of the 39 tribes in Oklahoma are in the same situation as the Miami Tribe. She said the Myaamia Center is an important role model that gives "hope and inspiration" to those tribes.

Baldwin says the center's message is simple.

"We have to get people to understand that we are a living people with a past," he said. "And not a people from the past."

Tracing the Evolution of American Indian Fine Art: 1920s to the Present Day

Native News Network Staff in Entertainment. Discussion »

Mitchell Museum

Daphnie Odjig, Odawa-Potawatomi, pencil sketch

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS – A major new temporary exhibition at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston offers a sweeping survey of regional styles and trends in modern Native American art while tracing its evolution from ancient times to the present day.

Organized by the Mitchell Museum, "Another View of American Indian Fine Art" will open March 16 and will remain open through September 1, 2013.

A curator's tour of the new exhibit will take place at 2 pm on March 16. A preview for Mitchell Museum members is scheduled for 6:00 pm on March 14.

A sequel to the recent exhibit "Changing Views of American Indian Fine Art," the new, expanded exhibit focuses on significant developments in Native art from the 1920s to the present era in diverse cultures across the US and Canada.

On view are more than 80 works of art, primarily paintings, prints, pottery, and sculpture on loan from private collectors and from the museum's permanent collection. In addition, there are works in other media, such as animal hide paintings.

Mitchell Museum

Elsie Klengenberg Holman, Inuit, Catching print

The survey of cultural areas takes into account the impact of influential American Indian art schools, including art academies as well as groups of artists sharing common influences.

A section on the Northwest Coast illustrates how artists there have continued to focus on traditional subjects and themes while employing modern techniques and materials. Artists will include Tony Hunt, Naquapenkim, and Bill Reid, Haida.

In the Arctic art section, visitors will see Cape Dorset prints by Eegyvudluk Pootoogook, Inuit, and Holman prints by Mary Okheena and Peter Aliknak.

One of the stylistic schools on exhibit is the Canadian Woodlands "Group of Seven," represented through works by Daphne Odjig, Odawa, Noval Morrisseau, Ojibwe, and Clemence Wescoupe, Ojibwa.

An Oklahoma section discusses the influential Bacone College art school and the Oklahoma "flat style" of visual art. Included are pieces by Acee Blue Eagle, Muscogee Creek-Pawnee-Wichita, Archie Black Owl, Cheyenne, Woody Crumbo, Potawatomi, and Dennis Belindo, Kiowa.

The Southwest Indian art area focuses on Sante Fe, N.M.-area developments, including the influential Institute for American Indian Art in Santa Fe, N.M. Artists include R.C. Gorman, Navajo, Pablita Velarde, Santa Clara Pueblo, Pop Chalee, Taos, Dan Namingha, Hopi, and Tammy Garcia, Santa Clara Pueblo.

The geographical tour concludes in the Plains region, with works by Merle Locke, Frank Shorty, Randall Blaze, Francis Yellow, and Robert Freeman.

Mitchell Museum

Ron Sebastian, Gwichen Tsamish, Octopus Dancer print

The exhibit includes a new version of a guessing game that proved popular with museum visitors to the previous exhibit. "Is This Indian Art?" challenges visitors to set aside preconceived notions and guess which paintings and prints were made by American Indian artists and which were made by others who chose to depict Native people and themes.

The new exhibit, like its predecessor, illustrates how developments in traditional art and the tourist trade helped set the stage for today's vibrant Native art market.

Visitors enter the exhibit through a section titled "A Tradition of Adornment," which holds the earliest works on view: ancient artifacts created for personal, household, and ceremonial use. Early objects include copper jewelry from the period 8000-500 BCE, glass beadwork, porcupine quillwork, and Pueblo katsina dolls used to teach spiritual beliefs to children.

"American Indian Art Trade" illustrates the development of trading posts and early commercial markets for Indian art and souvenirs starting in the mid-1800s. Some of the items from this period "were considered crafts or souvenir trinkets and not valued as fine art pieces until decades later,"' according to exhibit materials. On display are Iroquois "whimsies," beaded items with intricate floral and pictorial designs, collectible katsina dolls, baskets, and Southwestern jewelry.

One of several interactive features throughout the exhibit is a set of objects allowing visitors to play the roles of Indian artists and "pawn traders," entrepreneurs who made cash loans to Indian artists, often at exorbitantly high interest rates, while holding their artwork as collateral.

Admission is free on the first Friday of every month.

The independent, nonprofit

Mitchell Museum is at 3001 Central St., Evanston, Illinois.847.475.1030.


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