The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

August 5, 2013

Frankie Meyer: Museums help connect Native Americans to ancestry

JOPLIN, Mo. —

While in Washington D. C. this week, I had a chance to visit the National Museum of the American Indian.

The building has an adobe-colored exterior with a smooth, curved architecture that reminds one of wind-swept hills. The landscape includes large stones, native trees, grasses and wildflowers, along with a flowing spring. Some crop plants are squash, beans, corn and tobacco.

Many artifacts are in wall displays, while other artifacts are in drawers that pull out from the wall. Upon entering the first floor of exhibits, I noticed a display of a wampum belt that was once owned by Silas Armstrong of the Wyandot Tribe. My 6-year-old granddaughters were intrigued by the intricate beadwork of the dolls, cradleboards, shoes and clothing.

Native dancers perform in the Rasmuson Theater. Upstairs, the circular Lelawi Theater has a film presentation that is projected onto woven rugs that hang from the ceiling. A large rock beneath the rugs is a backdrop for running water and other features.

During the show, the ceiling transforms into a changing panorama of majestic scenery, along with seasonal changes. The museum has a restaurant that features Native American foods.

To help family members connect with their Native American ancestry, take them to similar museums. Oklahoma has several. Two of my favorites are Woolaroc and Gilcrease. Check with your tribal leaders to learn about those that feature artifacts related to your ancestry.

Another way to connect with your Native American ancestry is to visit galleries that feature Indian art. If you have artistic talent, attend workshops presented by Indian artists. Two internationally known artists from the Four-State Area are Richard Zane Smith, who has Wyandot heritage, and Margaret Roach Wheeler, who has Chickasaw-Choctaw heritage.

I was fortunate to teach with Margaret for 10 years at Joplin High School. She has since become a textile artist and fashion designer. She uses her unique style of weaving natural fibers to create woven garments known as Mahota Handwovens. Her garments are sold at major Indian markets throughout North America.

For more info, check her website at margaretroachwheeler.com. The site posts her bio and a schedule of her workshops and exhibitions, as well as photos of her work.

Richard Zane Smith lives in northeast Oklahoma and gives workshops for tribal members at his studio. Images of his work can be seen at www.blueraingallery.com. His extraordinary pottery, made with natural clay and pigments, has the appearance of finely woven baskets. His pottery is sold at Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe.        

Does your tribe have gifted authors or storytellers? Have your family read the stories and attend the presentations. A few years ago, a friend Rose Stauber suggested that Jim and I attend a presentation by Choctaw author and storyteller Tim Tingle. Although we're not Choctaw, we were awed by his talent, and we still laugh and reminisce about his powerful program.

Suggestions or queries? Contact: Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168 or e-mail frankiemeyer@yahoo.com

1
Text Only
Globe Life
Facebook
Poll

A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

Yes
No
     View Results
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
NDN Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites