A peek into American Indian culture

Most festivals offer the public a look into a single culture. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, however, showcased the traditions of over a hundred.

The museum hosted the third annual American Indian Cultural Celebration last weekend, featuring performances that represented American Indian cultures all around the country.

“There’s a lot of healing in the music and the dances,” said Mae Walker Scroggins, a member of the Chilula nation who came from Columbia to attend the gathering.

The celebration kicked off with a dance performed by students of Haskell Indian Nations University, who took the opportunity to display the traditions of several cultures. There were many dances throughout the day, including an Apache Crown Dance where painted performers chanted songs passed down through the generations.

Dances weren’t the only part of the cultural celebration. Attendees could also watch artist Patricia Nelson create loom work art in real time or participate in a hands-on art activity.

“We have an encyclopedic collection at the Nelson-Atkins, which means we have art from many times and places all over the world,” said Sarah Hyde Schmiedeler, Francis Family Foundation educator of family programs and events. “These are opportunities to showcase those collections and the living cultures that they represent.”

Schmiedeler organized the event to give the public a glimpse of the many long-lasting American Indian cultures. For attendees such as Scroggins, the event is representative of something much larger.

“In today’s society most people think that natives are dead, but we’re alive,” Scroggins said. “We’re very much alive and thriving, and I’m very proud of that.”

 

rhb4k3@mail.umkc.edu

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