Since wintering in the southwest, I’ve become more interested in the history and culture of the Native Americans. Regular readers may have noticed a thread of travels in my journeys here that features events and places that focus on that part of the history not only of the United States, but of the North American continent and its earliest residents. This week we journey to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, a museum focusing on the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico.
The museum has a continuously rotating exhibition, and a permanent exhibit called, “We Are of This Place: The Pueblo Story.” During our visit, the rotating exhibit, “Art Through Struggle: Ricardo Caté”. Featuring the works of a member of the Santo Domingo Pueblo and an author and cartoonist who’s work called “Without Reservations” is published daily in the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Taos News. His art exhibits the poignant and ironic humor of one who lives in a subculture that is non-dominant. I enjoyed the exhibit of his work so much, I purchased his book, “Without Reservations” from the museum gift shop.
There are plenty of informative placards that explain the exhibits on display so if you, like us, decide to explore at your own pace, you won’t feel you don’t understand the significance of what you are viewing in each display.
Many people prefer a tour guide so someone with experience can reflect their personal experience or field questions from the guests. If that’s your preference, tours for small and large groups are offered on a complimentary basis. large groups can even get a reduced admission fee. Details on tours and their availability are on the museum’s website here.
An exhibit on the Indian Boarding Schools reminded me of a similar exhibit at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. I have learned much about these misguided attempts to erase Native American cultural history many at the hands of well-meaning Christian ministries. With the help of the United States Government, agents forcibly separated children from their families and placed them in boarding schools often hundreds of miles from their families. These schools became the norm from the 1860’s to the mid-20th century. By 1926, there were 357 U.S. Government funded boarding schools in 30 states housing over 80% of Indian school-age children.
In the large courtyard of the museum, Native American dancers shared some of their cultural costumes and dances. The large mural in the background is but one of many in and around the museum and a Mural Discovery Tour is complimentary and offered weekly.
A small garden area has several sculptures on display. The image above is but one example. The museum admission is a bargain at less than $10 for adults with discounts for New Mexico residents, seniors, students, military and groups. You can find out what’s doing at the museum and plan your visit by visiting their website here. I submit for your review, a small gallery of images captured that day on our visit. In most browsers you can click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.