Posts Tagged 'Native Americans'

Collaborative project with CSU Anthropology

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

We’re very excited to be working with the Anthropology Department at Colorado State University on a collaborative project to delve deeper into the information we have here at the Museum about historical and contemporary Native American life in this area. This fall, students in Dr. Kathy Pickering’s Indians of North America class are engaging in research projects to find new information or reinterpret the existing information we have in our collections and interpretive programs. The projects they develop will help us in creating future exhibits and programs for the community.

This project was the brainchild of CSU’s Dr. Pickering and the Museum’s Dr. Brenda Martin, with research support being provided primarily by Linda Moore, Curator of Collections, Lesley Drayton, Curator of the Local History Archive, and Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation. The students are working with ethnographic, archaeological, and historical data in relation to the Native Americans that lived and still do live in Fort Collins and surrounding areas. The culmination of their work will be a presentation of their findings to Museum staff, members of the Department of Anthropology, the local media, and the public on Monday, November 16th, 2009 from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm in the Lory Student Center in room 213-215. We plan to make selected student projects available on the Museum website after the end of the semester.

Add to your calendar: Upcoming Native American events

by Terry Burton, Digital Media Coordinator

For all you Fort Collins and northern Colorado locals, there are two Native American events coming up in early November for you to enjoy. Both events are sponsored by Colorado State University’s American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the Native American Cultural Center.

On Friday, November 6th, the Native American Dance Expo and Indian Taco Sale, featuring the Northern Cree Singers, will be going on from 11 am – 1 pm at the Lory Student Center Plaza on campus at Colorado State University.

The Colorado State University Pow Wow will take place on Saturday, November 7th, in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom at CSU. Everyone is welcome, and admission is free. The Grand Entry is scheduled for 1 pm and 7 pm, and the pow wow feed is at 5 pm. Traditional Native American food will be served, and the feed is free and open to everyone.

Northern Host will be the Northern Cree Singers from Saddle Lake, Alberta; Southern Host will be the Headstone Singers from Pawnee, Oklahoma. Lance Allrunner will be the MC, Randy Medicine Bear will be the Arena Director, Lee Plenty Wolf will be the spiritual advisor, and the Colorado State University Student Veterans will be the Honor Guard.

For more information call 970-491-1332, or check out event flyer (with map).

Tell her about it

by Linda Moore, Curator of Collections

The newly refurbished “My Community” exhibit at the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Science Center highlights what I love best about the local history reflected in the Museum’s collection: that it is both uniquely deep in time frame and broad in scope. The stone objects from our region’s Folsom culture, as well as those from the even earlier Clovis culture, reach back further than any other representations of our history available. Conversely, we add objects from contemporary events and people to this collection every day: local 2008 presidential election materials, objects from burgeoning local businesses, and more. Where else in town do you see over ten thousand years of our region’s history represented?

By saying our collection is broad I mean that the museum’s collection interprets a wide variety of themes. This is because we are simply our community’s museum and not its art museum or archaeological museum; we are not devoted to a particular era, or group, or individual. Anything that happens in our region, or exercises a strong influence on it, has a place in the Museum’s collection, and may end up interpreted in a Museum exhibit.

About eight years ago a desire to have the Museum’s main gallery better reflect this rich collection prompted the development of the original “My Community” exhibit. Museum staff designed this exhibit to bring forward, through artifacts from the collection, portions of our population which possessed a strong individual identity or local history but were under-represented in the rest of the gallery: the Germans from Russia population, the many Native American individuals and groups, and the Hispanic population. This exhibit was also designed to present stories about the development of our community that had not found a place elsewhere, under the designation “Town Builders.”

The resulting exhibit has been a popular addition to our main gallery since its completion. While fragile artifacts have been rotated out of this exhibit, most of the objects included in the original plan have remained on exhibit. This fall I have been involved in revamping the Museum’s “My Community” exhibit; this involved choosing new objects and stories to use to present the exhibit’s original themes.

The research I did while working on this exhibit clarified for me the essential job objects do in broadening and deepening our understanding of our community’s history. One artifact we’re adding to the exhibit is a third place ribbon Victor Bueno won in a 100 yard race at the Chicano Olympics, which were held, according to the printing on the ribbon, in Fort Collins’ Buckingham Park in the summer of 1976. Wanting to find some background information and maybe even some photos to include in the exhibit, I spent two days going through books, online sources, and newspapers — all without finding a single word about any Chicano Olympics. Surely the memory of this event exists beyond this small white ribbon and the printed certificate preserved along with it, but it sure isn’t easy to find. Another community member, Adolfo Gallegos, is represented in the exhibit with the equipment he used to repair shoes and ranching gear out of his Buckingham neighborhood home for over forty years. In my research I’ve been unable to find any other materials documenting this Fort Collins entrepreneur. I’ve been surprised, actually, how often I’ve discovered people or events through the collection that seem almost invisible otherwise.

This brings me to what is most exciting to me about the Museum’s “My Community” exhibit: its function as a conversation; an ongoing conversation our community can have with itself. Though I’ve exhausted my immediate sources, for example, without finding anything more than Victor Bueno’s winning ribbon to document the 1976 Chicano Olympics, there must be members of our community who were there and could share what they remember. If Bueno’s ribbon, or the Ute Bear Dance rasp, or the wool shawl can bring up a subject, my hope is that people will reply, will help complete the story the Museum only caught pieces of. The photo montages behind the objects can work the same way: that adorable little girl sitting on a porch edge with a friend, or a maybe a brother – is she your aunt, your grandma, your wife?

My hope is that you will tell us about her. Or maybe about your dad’s experiences wielding a sugar beet knife just like the one on exhibit, or how you like seeing the noodle maker but it’s not anything like what you used to make noodles for your wedding dinner. Did you have one of those early Water Piks? Have you ever ridden side saddle? Did you do it in an impeccably tailored suit?

I invite you to come to the Museum and see the newly refurbished “My Community” exhibit. And when you do, please, please don’t let it ramble on all by itself. Talk back and help us keep our community conversation lively.

Framed projectile points from the Roy G. Coffin collection

Framed projectile points from the Roy G. Coffin collection

Victor Bueno's Chicano Olympics ribbon

Victor Bueno's Chicano Olympics ribbon

Ute Bear Dance rasp

Ute Bear Dance rasp

1962 model Water Pik

1962 model Water Pik

Sugar beet knife

Sugar beet knife

Side saddle

Side saddle

“We Shall Remain”

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation, Fort Collins Museum

Tonight on PBS, the American Experience’s “We Shall Remain” starts at 8pm (Mountain Time). To quote from the PBS website, “We Shall Remain is a groundbreaking mini-series and provocative multi-media project that establishes Native history as an essential part of American history. Five 90-minute documentaries spanning three hundred years tell the story of pivotal moments in U.S. history from the Native American perspective.”

The previews and sneak peaks on the website look fantastic, so check it out. Also, take a look at the “Reel Native” section of the program’s website — the films in this project are some great examples of personal history.

And bonus points if you can see the allusion to another iconic American image in the series’ poster.

Winter stories

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

Last Friday, I got to spend the day at the 35th Annual Denver March Powwow, and it counted as work! Out of all the new and interesting experiences I had (favorites include watching a Jingle Dress Dance competition and eating my first “Indian Taco” – yum!), the best part of my day was the three hours I sat in a cold little room, on a hard folding chair, and listened to the Powwow’s Storyteller Competition.

Winter is a traditional storytelling time for many cultures. The Fort Collins Museum has been very fortunate to work with Northern Ute elder and spiritual leader Clifford Duncan, who has consulted with us on several projects, including the Soapstone Prairie Oral History Project. In a recent interview, Mr. Duncan talked about winter storytelling:

“If you really look at, or listen, to a mythology or folklore story, they’re talking about people. They’re talking about how to conduct yourself. But Native Americans would say the animals, the coyote said this to the badger, the badger said this to that. The light, the fire was taken from this place, and here’s how this animal created this animal. It’s really a teaching mechanism that takes place in the winter, so that you can go on again in springtime and you live that summer again, and that’s what you’re doing.”

Stories are an important part of history. Author Chris Abani said, “Stories make the world in which we live… everything in the world is explained through story,” and my tenth grade history teacher went as far as to claim that history is just the stories we’ve remembered to write down.  


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