The people of this place
trip to the museum, I was very captivated by the Indian exhibited. They had many different tribes
including: Ottawa, Potawatomi and Chippewa people. When walking through the
museum, I saw many eye catching pictures and wardrobes. The other exhibit that
attracted my attention was the whale right when you first walk in. It is so
large and puts the ocean in perspective and how large the animals are.
At the museum they have the story of the Anishinabek “the
people” , but is describe in their own words, with rare and fascinating
objects, photographs and documents. The exhibit is about 5,000 square feet, and
is all committed to only talking about the tribes that walk through Michigan
first. The three main tribes displayed are the Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Chippewa.
On display is decorative arts, clothing, weapons and tools, with video
interviews with Anishinabe elders, parents, artists and professionals. The
exhibit talked about how the traditional Anishinabe society had no kings,
presidents, governors, or mayors. Instead, it had a highly developed tradition
of leadership and community service. Each band had its “Ogerhuk” or leaders who led by example and
represented the group to outsiders. Each leaders authority went only as far as
he or she could convince others to follow willingly. This was really intriguing
to me because they pretty much had no set leader, and surprisingly it wasn’t utter chaos.
Pow Wows which also could be called a Tribe gathering,
were very popular for the Anishinabe Tribe. Often times Pow wows gather
Anishinabek from all over the nation to socialize with other Indian people.
These Pow wows didn’t
begin in Michigan until the 1960s. They include traditional Woodland Indian
music and dance with those learned from tribes in other states, and new songs
made by drum groups. Today, there are many different types of Pow Wow dances
and each one plays a specific role in the Pow Wow circle. Each dancer at a Pow
Wow makes a strong personal statement with his or her regalia (Dance Attire). Pow Wow regalia often includes historic silver
pieces such as brooches, arm bands, and gorgets, originally exchanged as trade
goods between French and British fur traders and the Great Lakes Indians. These
Pow wows can still be seen today in modern Indian culture.
When the U.S. Government threat-ended to remove the
Anishinabek to reservations in the West, the Indians argued that they were “civilized”
Christian farmers and should be allowed to stay. After much of their land had
been lost, the Anishinabek remained in Michigan, often mixing traditional pursuits
such as fishing and basket weaving with a diversity of jobs. In the 1930s many
Anishinabek moved to bigger cities in search of work. Despite these changes,
the Anishinabe culture endured. One interesting thing that the Anishinabe people
followed was the idea of Kinship, or the relationship among individuals, this
is one of the most important elements of Anishinabe culture. It helps to define
and organize the Anishinabe society, even when individuals live miles apart
from each other. In the video I watched while touring this exhibit they covered
the “Terms” that define kinship. These include
ododem, clan, band, and tribe.
Over time, the Anishinabek developed a thorough knowledge
of their environment. Through hunting, fishing, gathering, agricultural, and
medicinal practices, they learned how to use natural resources. They found in
wood, stone, clay, and plants all they needed to live in West Michigan. Many
members of Anishinabe were hunters and gathers and took great pride in their
work. So much that in the 1980s, the State of Michigan began regulating hunting
and fishing, claiming that Indians could fish only under state regulations.
These rules ignored provisions in the U.S. Constitution stating that only the
federal government could regulate Indian tribes. Problems arose as many Indians
continued to fish without their license. Fast forward deep into the 20th
century, many Anishinabek risked arrest, paid court fines, saw their boats and
nets confiscated, or went to jail to protect their rights. Finally in 1979 U.S.
District court ruled that the treaties guaranteed the Anishinabek the right to
hunt and fish in their ancestral lands. Hunting and gathering wasn’t so much as life style choice for them
but more so the whole source of their economy and without they wouldn’t be able to survive for generation after
the first treaty to be passed related to the Anishinabe tribe. In between the
1930s and 1940s, the federal government created an Indian Arts and Crafts
Workshop at Cross Village. Working through the Works Progress Administration
(WPA), the program provided jobs to Indians producing “traditional” arts and crafts, such as baskets,
quills, and furniture. While the WPA provided temporary income for a few, it
did not train them in business skills so that Anishinabe-owned enterprises
could develop. But the program did raise public awareness of Anishinabe arts
and helped in the revival.
The museum had plenty of extra information for you to
read about. But what caught my eye the most out of the whole exhibit, was in
the far back corner sat a full case talking about the stereotypes and discrimination
that Indians would face every day. On top of that, they had a full video
section focused on Anishinabe Identity and the culture norms that are followed
with that. All in all the 2 minute video left me in some kind of aw… At how different they look at things in
the world and how different values can be from person to person.