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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 15, 2002 - Issue 63


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Indiana is Still Mihtohseenionki
(The People's Place)

Our Thanks to the Eiteljorg Museum

credits: Photographs courtesy of the Eiteljorg Museum


Eiteljorg Museum tells a familiar story from an unfamiliar - but more balanced - viewpoint
Native Americans advised the museum at every step; it's their voice visitors will hear

Photo 1:
According to Webster… Marty Gradolf (Winnebago of Nebraska), 2001. The Eiteljorg Museum Signature Image Purchase Fund.
Click on the image to view a larger image. (Use the back button on your browser to return to this page.)

INDIANAPOLIS - "I was talking to my grandpa one day about some old pictures that we had, and I asked him why we don't wear [our traditional] clothing anymore. And grandpa said, 'Oh, we had to sell a lot of it for our lawyers' fees.' "It was a really bad time." - Scott Shoemaker (Miami Nation of Indiana), ribbonwork artist, 2001

That conversation with his grandfather started 25-year-old Miami Nation of Indiana member Scott Shoemaker down a path toward reclaiming a part of his family's Native American heritage. And that story, which needed to be told, illustrates why the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis has created a gallery devoted to telling the story of the Native peoples of the Midwest.

The Eiteljorg Museum has always involved members of the cultural groups about which the museum has presented exhibitions, said John Vanausdall, president and CEO.

"But when we decided to begin exploring how to reinstall our Native American galleries and present them in a way that included the Native American perspective, we knew we had to do more," he said.

A Native American Council of members from across the country generally advises the museum. In 2000, the Eiteljorg formed a Native American Regional Advisory Group, made up of Native Americans from the Indiana Woodlands region.

This area includes the Miami, Delaware and Potawatomi. Museum staff targeted these tribes in recruiting individuals for the advisory group, focusing on the tribes that were or still are in the area now known as Indiana. Regional Advisory Group members are Scott Shoemaker (Miami Nation of Indiana) of Chicago; Carolyn Knauff (Miami Nation of Indiana) of Denver, Ind.; John Warren (Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians) of Bremen, Ind.; and Don Secondine (Delaware) of Archibald, Ohio. Daryl Baldwin (Miami Nation) of West Lafayette, Ind., is a consultant to the Mihtohseenionki project.

Baldwin is a linguist specializing in his tribal language and is director of the Myaamia Project at Miami University.

Shoemaker, a graduate of Ball State University, works as a landscape architect with Wolff Clements and Associates Ltd. of Chicago.

Knauff is a member of the Miami Nation of Indiana tribal council and also sits on the tribe's cultural traditions committee.

Warren is the former cultural program director of the Pokagon Band Community Development Office in Dowagiac, Mich. He is a teacher with a strong background in Potawatomi history, specifically the Pokagon Band.

Secondine runs the trading post and is gunsmith and silversmith at Sauder Village in Archibold, Ohio. He also works with Conner Prairie and its Lenape Indian camp and has been a presenter and demonstrator at the Eiteljorg Museum's Harvest Celebration and Indian Market.

"These individuals have immersed themselves in the development our new gallery, Mihtohseenionki (The People's Place), giving generously of their time, talents and resources," Vanausdall said. "Much of the success that comes from this gallery, we owe to them."

Much of the success also is owed to the Native American artists who agreed to share their work and traditions with museum visitors. For example:

  • Penny Bishop (Citizen Band of Potawatomi Indians)

    Penny Bishop used to stay in Indiana every summer as a child. Now an artist and resident of Morrison, Colo., she has created a "wearing blanket" - a blanket typically worn like a shawl - for the Eiteljorg. She learned to sew from her mother, a Native American who married a German.

"A lot of times, when people would say something about being Indian, some of it was funny because out of eight children, four of us looked Indian and four of us looked like my dad," she said.

Bishop creates blankets using traditional Potawatomi ribbonwork, but with designs inspired by the red rocks of Colorado and the work of her Potawatomi ancestors.

"I have an old soul," she said of the source for her inspiration. "I may use patterns over and over again, but I don't ever make the same thing twice. And I like to use a lot of traditional patterns, so I go to museums to get ideas. They're not my patterns, so I always add or take away from them, in order to make them mine."

Bishop's wearing blanket will share museum space with a Potawatomi blanket circa 1890 from The Field Museum in Chicago. But instead of stitching by hand, in the old way, Bishop uses a sewing machine. Native Americans have always loved new tools and new ways of doing things, she said.

"My grandmother would have loved Velcro®. It would have made things so much easier," she added.

  • Don Secondine (Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma)

Don Secondine, 50, a member of the Eiteljorg's Regional Native American Advisory Group from Ohio and a respected silversmith, has ancestral connections to a knobbed war club that eventually saved the life of Kit Carson. This club was owned by Delaware War Chief James Suwaunock, a son of Chief William Anderson, who is Secondine's ancestor. Suwaunock probably carried the club in the 1833 war between the Delaware and the Pawnee and in the 1839 Seminole War. His brother, James Segundai, carried the club as he accompanied James C. Fremont and Kit Carson on their explorations of the West. When a Klamath Indian attacked Carson after the latter's rifle misfired, Segundai used this knobbed war club to kill the attacker and save Carson's life.

Today, Don Secondine (whose name is a derivation of Segundai) works in silver and is a respected flutist and storyteller; his delicate silverwork will be in the gallery along with his ancestor's war club and other silver.

  • John Pigeon (Pokagon Band of Potawatomi)

Pigeon is a member of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, from northern Indiana and southern Michigan. He crafts baskets from black ash trees, pounding the wood until he can pull long strips from it, which he trims to the size he needs. He learned this art from his parents and grandparents.

"The reason I do a lot of the traditional arts is to keep them alive," Pigeon said. "As Anishinabe people, we try to always think of seven generations. Those seven generations include my grandfather's grandfather all the way to my grandchildren's grandchildren. By making baskets or keeping rituals and ceremonies alive, we're able to give something to our grandchildren's grandchildren."

Due in large part to their conversion to Catholicism, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi was exempted from the 1833 Treaty of Chicago that forced all other Potawatomi to move west. They lost federal recognition as a tribe in 1934. After their land was gone, the Potawatomi sold baskets to tourists and even traded them for food with such institutions as Notre Dame University. Congress restored tribal recognition to the Pokagon Band in 1994. Now, the people are re-establishing a tribal land base.

  • Scott Shoemaker (Miami Nation of Indiana) Scott Shoemaker is creating a pair of moccasins for the museum exhibition that will be adorned with traditional Miami ribbonwork.

"My grandpa gave me about 13 deerskins five or six years ago. I haven't run out of those yet," he said, when asked where he obtains his materials.

And the ribbon?

"The fabric store. Like Jo-Ann Fabrics or whatever."

Shoemaker's moccasins will share space with Miami moccasins owned by Frances Slocum, a white woman who was captured at age 5 by members of the Delaware Tribe and was raised in a Native American family.

"There are many subtle messages that will emerge from the installation," wrote Daryl Baldwin (Miami). "One message in particular touches on modern efforts to restore, and in some cases reclaim, traditional languages and cultures through the use of modern technology .... Another positive attribute is the demonstration component of the installation. Allowing Native American artist and crafts people to come into the exhibit area and share one on one with the public will only serve to strengthen the living aspect of Native Americans today. ... Tying the physical past with the physical present sends a powerful message that Native People are still a living, thriving, yet ever-changing People."

According to John Vanausdall, the Eiteljorg's president and CEO, this is a brand-new approach for the museum.

"Part of our mission is to inspire an understanding of the art, culture and history of the indigenous peoples of North America," Vanausdall said. "We can't do this by presenting artifacts alone. With this new gallery, our visitors will walk away with an understanding of how Native peoples used to live and how they continue to live today. In this way, we hope to enhance everyone's appreciation of and even their basic knowledge about the contributions made to our world today by Native Americans."

Two historic events for the price of one: Mihtohseenionki and the 10th Anniversary Indian Market
Indian Market signature image ties new gallery and festival together

Photo 2:

Tomahawk pipe (Miami), c. 1795. Courtesy of National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, #22/7207.
Click on the image to view a larger image. (Use the back button on your browser to return to this page.)

June 22, 2002, will be a historic day for the Eiteljorg Museum. It's the 10th anniversary of its award-winning Indian Market, and the opening of its groundbreaking new gallery, Mihtohseenionki (The People's Place.)

Two of the most visible pieces of art surrounding these congruent events will be an icon we see now more than ever before: the American flag.

"According to Webster..." by Marty Gradolf, a Winnebago of Nebraska who lives in Nashville, Ind., is a weaving of two flags joined by a white space that carries the Webster's Dictionary definition of "treaty" ("treaty; a formal agreement between two or more nations or sovereigns").

The flag at the top bears a Native American medicine wheel on the blue ground. The flag at the bottom bears 13 stars, marking the time of the start of treaties between the United States and Native peoples. This flag is upside down, a universal symbol of distress.

"The Native American flag portion is not really an 'official' Native American flag," Gradolf said. "The Medicine Wheel is recognized as a Native American image representing the four directions and the people of the four directions. I used Webster's definition of treaty as a thought-provoking bridge between the two flags."

Gradolf completed this piece in February 2001, seven months before Sept.11. Her affection for the work hasn't changed in the aftermath of the attacks.

"I created this because I've always been intrigued by flags - what they say, who they represent and how they look. Historically, it is interesting to me how the American flag has been portrayed," she said. "The message is timeless."

During the Indian Market, Gradolf's flag will become part of the Mihtohseenionki gallery, alongside another flag that probably was created by another female Native American - one from 200 years ago. The Anthony Wayne flag was made by Miami women using the ribbonwork technique they used to decorate clothing. Overlapped ribbons create the design.

10th Anniversary Indian Market immerses visitors in art and culture
"Mihtohseenionki" opens during Indian Market

Photo 3:

Woman’s blouse (Potawatomi), ca. 1890. Courtesy of Richard Pohrt, Jr.
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INDIANAPOLIS - Rated among the top 10 markets in the country, the 10th Anniversary Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market Presented by SBC Ameritech is the largest juried show and sale of Native American art in the Midwest. This year's event, which is always held the weekend after Father's Day, is June 22 and 23 - the same weekend as the opening of the Eiteljorg's new gallery devoted to the Native Peoples of Indiana.

In February, 126 Native American artists were accepted into the Indian Market. They come from all over the country and represent more than 50 tribes.

To be accepted, applicants must be documented members of a federally or state-recognized tribe, and their work must be of the highest quality. All work brought by the artist must be handmade by him or her in the past two years and cannot include any part of a protected species of animal.

"This protects our visitors, who want to buy art that is well made and is authentically Native American," said Ray Gonyea, the Eiteljorg's curator of Native American art and culture. "As a museum, our reputation among Native American artists is growing each year, because they know we present only the best."

The Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market Presented by SBC Ameritech has three main components: a juried arts competition with cash prizes, an opportunity for sales between artists and the public (the museum doesn't take a commission), and the sharing of Native American culture through craftspeople, traders, storytellers, singers, dancers and food experts.

All the artwork is for sale, and prices range from $30 to thousands. The work includes handmade jewelry, blankets, paintings, sculptures, clothing, pottery, weavings, quillwork, drawings, prints, pipes and drums. Where a particular tribal group or artistic medium is underrepresented among the artists, the Eiteljorg invites Native American traders to present the work of several artists.

But as many visitors come for the cultural experience as for the artwork.

"The experience allows you to get a taste of Native American cultures from across the country, literally and figuratively," Gonyea said.

Here's what's in store for the 10th Anniversary Indian Market:

  • Artists featured in the museum's new gallery - Cathy Nagy-Mowry, John Pigeon, Don Secondine and Scott Shoemaker - will demonstrate their talents. They'll be joined by Patria Smith (Miami), gourd artist, and Carolyn and Harry Knauff (Miami), who will do living-history presentations with wiikiaama (wigwams).

  • Nakotah LaRance (Hopi), 12, two-time national youth hoop-dancing champion, and his brother Cree, age 8 (who took fifth in the national competition) will move in and out of numerous hoops and use them to create butterflies and other beings from nature.

  • Mark Booth (Miami) will send wild birds of prey soaring with his popular Take Flight! demonstration. You can see owls, falcons and eagles up close and in the sky.

  • Dani rambling rose Tippmann (Miami) will share her knowledge about foods used by Native Americans in the Midwest (and offer free samples!).

  • Twigh Twee Drum, the Miami Nation's official traditional drum group, will perform traditional songs around a large drum.

  • The Navajo Code Talkers were part of every Marine assault in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945, transmitting messages by radio in a code based on their native language - a code the Japanese never broke. You can talk with Dr. Samuel Billison and Samuel Smith about their experiences.

  • Woody Swifteagles (Aztec/Apache) plays his masterly crafted flutes in the Woodlands tradition of his adopted Ojibway tribe.

  • Fashion designer Tammy Beauvais (Iroquois) presents a fashion show presenting beautiful raised beadwork. Her artistry has been showcased at the Smithsonian Institution and the 2000 Olympics.

  • Legend teller Tom McCormack (Bigstone Cree) weaves the clapper stick, the rattle and the drum into his "Good Medicine" tales, bringing indigenous history to live with an array of dynamic characters.

  • Indiana's own Katrina Mitten (Miami) is a direct descendant of three chiefs important to Miami history - Lafontaine, Richardville and Little Turtle. Mitten will tell her story as it has been passed down to her. Mitten is an award-winning Indian Market beadwork artist.

  • Sue Strass (Miami) is Mitten's mother. She plays Catherine Richardville Lafontaine writing a letter to her children. Accompanied by slides, the story includes the history of the Miami people.

This year, to mark the significance of the 10th anniversary of the Indian Market and the opening of Mihtohseenionki (The People's Place), Native Americans from the region will conduct a traditional ceremony that the public is invited to watch. This ceremony will take place at noon on Saturday, June 22, and is free; it will be on the front lawn of the Eiteljorg Museum (at the corner of West and Washington streets downtown), rather than on the Indian Market grounds.

The Eiteljorg Museum 10th Anniversary Indian Market is presented by SBC Ameritech. Additional sponsorship by the Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Central Indiana Trane Dealers, Native Peoples magazine, RTV-6, Emmis Communications, and the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. Marsh Supermarkets is the official ticket outlet.

10th Anniversary Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market
Presented by SBC Ameritech June 22-23, 2002

Indian Market:
Saturday, June 22, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, June 23, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Military Park
Directly north of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
500 W. Washington St. (in downtown Indianapolis)
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Park in the White River State Park underground parking garage next to the Eiteljorg Museum; enter from Washington Street. Additional parking at IUPUI.

$7 in advance
$10 at the gate
$4 children 5-17; children 4 and under free
Ticket prices include museum admission that day.

Information and advance tickets:
Central Indiana residents, call (317) 264-1733.
Outside Central Indiana, call (800) 622-2024.
Advance tickets available at the Eiteljorg Museum, Marsh Supermarkets and Indianapolis Artsgarden (in Circle Centre).

Preview Party sales event and silent auction: First opportunity to purchase art!
Friday, June 21, 5:30 - 9 p.m.
Food, meet the artists, advance sales, awards presentation.
Reservations and prepayment required; museum members $50, non-members $70 per person (buy a membership and save!).
Call (317) 636-9378, ext. 159

Coming from out of town?
Visit and click on the "Visitors" tab.

Eiteljorg Museum
The Eiteljorg Museum is unique, one of two museums east of the Mississippi with both Native American and Western art. Located in downtown Indianapolis, the museum is within walking distance of the RCA Dome, Circle Centre mall and major downtown hotels. The building's distinctive design was inspired by the land, people and architecture of the American Southwest.

Indianapolis, IN Map
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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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