Saturday Art: Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque, NM, has a museum of surrounding Pueblo culture that includes the experiences tribal children went through in the schooling system that took them from their homes and brought them up in Anglo cultural beliefs that excluded their own background and history, as well as their languages.
In the above pictures, crafts that the Albuquerque Indian School brought into their lives is exhibited as it occurred in that background of re-acculturation. An element of their own past appears in the designs that were produced, while students were managed in ways Anglo beliefs insisted would give them productive lives in the society it saw as the best one.
The Albuquerque Indian School was in existence from 1881 until 1982. When it came to an end, its students were transferred to the Santa Fe Indian school just 60 miles north of Albuquerque. In 2006, a U.S. Department of the Interior office complex was built at the site of the former Albuquerque Indian School. But a handful of earth from there was brought to the Forgiveness Journey gathering in Albuquerque so that the spirit of the former school could be present. Who brought it? A Jewish Rabbi who had been invited to take part in the day.
“He understands what the Native Americans are going through,” said Terri Clah, one of the organizers who helped make the gathering happen. “He brought a message to our gathering to relate to Native Americans. He went to the former Albuquerque Indian School location and brought back dirt with him. He spoke to us and he lifted it before the Creator and asked the Creator to heal the Native Americans that were mistreated on those grounds. It was powerful,” she said with awe in her voice.The Albuquerque gathering took place at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center through the good work of local people with only three weeks notice. Sometimes it happens that way. About 50 people took part. Sam English, the well-known Indian artist who was at the gathering thanked everyone for coming and said he was grateful to see the crowd that did show up on a moment’s notice. The artist donated prints, cards and books for fund raising. It is acts of kindness like this that help us get from coast to coast on this Journey.
The culture of the Pueblos was interrupted, but continues and provides the actual background that children for a time were deprived of, and now is becoming tradition again that strengthens and enriches them.
In the museum that houses such diverse traditions are many artworks that emerged from the background so many were denied, and now are recovering. The many artworks that honor that culture are treasures, and recovering the craft and knowledge, as well as the skills, has become a concern for all who visit, and who appreciate, the beauty of such works.
Jose Reyes Toledo: “Turtle Rain Dance at Jemez Pueblo”