Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Miracles of Mexican Folk Art exhibit opening, by Hailey Tankersely

By: Hailey Tankersley It was very exciting to have over one hundred people come out to the Miracles of Mexican Folk Art: Retablos and Ex-votos exhibit at the Museum of Culture and Environment last Thursday. With the exhibit being focused on religious painting from Mexican communities it was nice to see the display attract a prominently Hispanic and Latino crowd. The exhibit includes religious Christian painting also known as “retablos” and “ex votos” made in Mexico between the late 18th century and early 20th century. Members of the Allied People Offering Year-round Outreach (APOYO) and Movimiento Estudiantil Chinana/ o de Aztlan (MECHA) communities had some great things to say during the opening comments. One APOYO member said that it was nice to see this exhibit in the museum and that he was not aware of this part of his history before. Students from the on-campus MECHA community were also very excited to have their heritage be represented in the exhibit. The MECHA students stated something along the lines of, it’s things like this Miracles of Mexican Folk Art exhibit that are making a difference for the Latino students on campus and that this exhibit is going to bring people together and build relationships in our community. I thought it was great that that every one who spoke saw our exhibit as a positive thing for our community. I hope that Central can continue to host events that make all members of our community feel welcome. It was nice to see that people were speaking both Spanish and English in the gallery while discussing the exhibit with others. People seemed to feel very welcome in the gallery while they walked around. It was also incredible that there were children who came to the opening, they really liked the art station in the back where they got to draw their own personal retablo. The kids (and adults) were able to create their own miracle art work and post it on the wall. I hope we can continue to do community outreach activities to get more families in to see the exhibit.

Opening of Miracles of Mexican Folk Art: Retablos and Ex-votos on April 7, 2016

By: Rachel Gunlogson For the opening of Miracles of Mexican Folk Art: Retablos and Ex-votos, the turn out was great, in my opinion. We had approximately 100 people visit throughout the evening. Before the greetings, the exhibit was packed with people examining the retablos and ex-votos and conversing with each other, in both English and Spanish. This exhibit is completely bi-lingual and to see many individuals from the Spanish community visit was wonderful. A Mariachi Band, consisting of Central students, played throughout the evening. Something I noticed, while taking pictures, was that when they were playing the mood in the room seemed to change. Language is a barrier that can cause people to feel uncomfortable. Even though English speaking people may not have understood the lyrics, music seems to transcend barriers and borders. I noticed almost everyone was engaged in listening to the music and had smiles on their faces. From what I heard, the alter within the exhibit was a huge success, along with the activity to draw a miracle that happened in your life and hang it on the wall. I noticed kids gladly taking part in this activity, but I also saw older individuals take interest as well. It is encouraging to see people interested in an exhibit enough to not only show up to the opening, but to also take part in an activity willingly and in this case, with enthusiasm.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Supplemental Label to "Righteous Dopefiend" Exhibit.

Barbara Hammersberg
Anthropology 361
Professor Auslander
RD Supplement

Photograph Supplement to Righteous Dopefiend, extended label

Located in the Moral Economy section in the museum and on page x in the book. Felix muscling in the abandoned shack in the alley behind the corner store.

Text panel in the museum:
Jeff’s fieldnotes
On his mid-afternoon break from the Christmas tree lot, Felix motions for me to accompany him into the abandoned shack in the alley below the freeway. “Watch my back, Jeff.”
I can tell Felix is feeling the preliminary symptoms of dope sickness. He is yawning heavily, and his nose is dripping. Steady wages have jacked up his habit, and he is already worried because this steady work ends in two weeks on Christmas Eve.
Fear of arrest exacerbates risky injection practices, discouraging possession of clean syringes, and encouraging addicts to inject and hide paraphernalia in unsanitary locations. The “safest” places for the Edgewater homeless to inject heroin and to seek shelter are the filthy wastelands that surround publicly funded freeways.

Extended Label:
What items can you find in this photograph that make this an unsafe and unhealthy environment? If you wouldn’t walk into this shack, why should Felix?
Do you think centers that can provide safe injection environments for users should be added to street-based outreach services, needle exchange programs, HIV-test counseling centers, drug treatment facilities, and broad-based, multi-targeted educational initiatives?
In the United States, people that use injection method drugs are at extreme risk for contracting HIV and HEP C. Endocarditis, an infection in the heart valves is also seen among users that have been injecting for over 5 years. The ever-present prospect of death by overdose, hangs over many.
Virtually all hospitals across the country deal with multiple ODs everyday. Since many users try to avoid hospital visits until they are in grave need, the visits are costly like acute care services, emergency room services, and therefore health care costs go up.
Safer Injection Facilities (SIF), is a developing public policy that has been implemented in sync with the ideas behind Harm Reduction. Countries like Germany, Australia, Switzerland, and even some North American states and Canada already house these centers. SIFs are legal facilities that enable the consumption of pre-obtained drugs in an anxiety and stress-free atmosphere, under hygienic and low risk conditions. They also focus on the services or referral capabilities to be offered on-site for linking injectors directly to drug treatment, primary care, counseling, and other social supports.
The main goals of these facilities are to:
Reduce the Burden of Illicit Drug Use on the Community
Create Opportunities to Work with Injectors
Reduce Rates and Risks of Drug Injection in Public Spaces

The information in this panel is based on research done by ROBERT S. BROADHEAD, THOMAS H. KERR, JEAN-PAUL C. GRUND, FREDERICK L. ALTICE. From the article in Journal of Drug Issues, 2002, Safer Injection Facilities in North America: There Place in Public Policy and Health Initiatives.

If you would like to learn more about SIFs, here are some helpful websites:


Friday, May 30, 2014

In Yakama Words: Panalakthsa Wa’lúmt ku Asúm (Remember Willamette and eel-like Lamprey)

I never thought I would hear Shannen Doherty say “Lamprey.” As we watched the fictional show “Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys” from Animal Planet with my young daughters they asked, “What are those?!?” I replied, “That’s what we ate last Saturday at the namegiving ceremony.” They recalled the foods and as I saw the realization that food on the table may look different in nature, I got a flashback of my childhood. Eating and seeing this food on the ceremonial table and the words family would share about our brother asúm (the Yakama word used to describe eel-like lamprey). Our relatives talked about the Treaty discussions and our hunting, fishing, and gathering rights. They told us children to listen because one day we will have to speak for the resource, that cannot speak for themselves.

May Memories

My mind flashes to last May, when we went to eeling, which is what we call fishing for asúm (lamprey) at Willamette Falls in Oregon City, OR.
We got a message warning that the State of Oregon might give us tickets us for not fishing within a state season. This shocked me, not only because Yakamas set their own fishing seasons, but also because “Willamette” comes from a Yakama word originally pronounced “Wa’lúmt.” This describes the color of the water. There are other Yakama words in the area such as “Wapato Lake,” which describes a wild wetland potato and is traditionally spelled wáptu. Yakamas connection to this land lives through the language.

Continuing on

We are reassured by our connection to the area and our elders’ teachings that “Sovereignty is a living thing. It is your choice to practice those rights, but fail to practice them long enough and they will die.” We went to Willamette Falls, got the asúm and took to the families for ceremonies. We also took some asúm (lamprey) to our elders. The meal that accompanies ceremonies is important because it is one way the family expresses a sense of gratitude for each person being in attendance.
One of the ceremonies was completed that week; another ceremony would take place in August. Just prior to that August ceremony, while we were headed back from gathering huckleberries, we got a flat tire in Oregon. My uncle and Oregon State Patrol helped me change the tire. As we made room to get the tire out of the car, I carefully moved the baskets of berries and explained to the officer that these were for an upcoming family ceremony and then thanked him for helping me get this food home.
How is it that we can have the Oregon State Patrol used as a threat against our people getting lamprey and yet so helpful to our people gathering huckleberries for the exact same ceremony?
Perhaps it is the Creator’s way of reminding us to let people know a little about what is taking place today. If they understand just a little more of our rights than perhaps they will help us speak for the resource.

Why take it all so seriously?

You see, while I was not given a fishing citation last May, I was scared. In 2011, Yakama fishers and Warm Springs Fishers were given fishing citations for getting asúm (lamprey). The Oregon State Patrol took away all the asúm (lamprey) and let them spoil on the hot asphalt. These fish were meant for ceremonies and subsistence, yet they were wasted in front of our people’s eyes.

Upcoming events to commemorate the Treaty of 1855

On Monday, Warm Springs and Yakama Nation will meet along the Willamette River to discuss this incident and our rights at Willamette Falls. This will include Tribal Councilmembers, elders, fishers and youth.

On Friday, June 6, 2014, at 10am the Yakama Nation will have the Annual Treaty Day Parade and salmon bake at the Cultural Center in Toppenish, Washington. This year’s theme is “Iwitux’sha útni pamimun tiicham támanwit” (Celebrating Tradition Lost and Returning).

I think of this theme, this experience and the show. As we watched “Blood Lake” I had to explain to my three and four year-old daughters that “Blood Lake” is pretend and confirm the words they heard from our elder Russell Jim at the ceremony about our asúm are true. Maybe you know a little about the Treaty of 1855, Willamette, and asúm (lamprey) or perhaps you know a lot.  Either way, the upcoming events are a good place to continue to learn and share the knowledge regarding our rights in Willamette and our other usual and accustomed areas. It’s been decades since the late David Sohappy, Sr. asked, “How can it be illegal for Indians to do what they’ve done all their life?” This question still ripples through our historic rivers and veins.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Scientific concepts for puppet show

As we have watched children engage with the puppet theater in the eco-connectivity exhibition, we realize that these encounters  need to be somewhat more structured in order to be effective learning experiences.  We need a list of core scientific concepts that can be communicated through puppetry.

When a school group enters the gallery, one or two puppet skits need to performed for them, either live or in a video recording they can watch.  Then, if time permits, small groups of children could be given a concept (either orally or in bullet points on an easel) and take on the task of creating and performing puppet skit for fellow children that effectively communicates that idea.

We have plush puppets of a bear, cougar/lynx, and a snail.  Children can make other kinds of animals as paper bag puppets with available material. Perhaps they should be asked to learn  bit of background information for their animal before they perform (what do they eat,  are they herbivores or carnivores, do they travel alone or in groups, and so forth.)

Here is a preliminary list of scientific concepts explored in the exhibition, which we would like to see communicated through puppets shows, or other public programs:

1.  The protected forests of the Cascades “bottleneck” around Snoqualmie Pass. In the past animals that traveled between the Northern and Southern Cascsades had to get across a narrow 15 mile corridor east of the summit, where there were safe, mature forests to travel through.   Since the 1960s this corridor of 15 miles has been blocked by Interstate 90.

2. So animals in the Cascades have been isolated from other members of their species for about fifty years, which is not healthy.  If there are changes in the availability of food sources  (other animals or plants) or the amount of water available. or in area becomes unsafe to live in, animals need to be able to travel to find better places to live.

3. For example:  mule deers are picky eaters and will only eat special leaves and twigs from trees and shrubs.  So if they cannot find their right kind of leaves and twigs they may get weak and die.  If they can cross the highway safely through they  bridge or the underpasses, they will have better chances of living healthy lives and having healthy offspring.

4. A more complex  and mature idea, about genetic connectivity, which may require some discussion of mating and sex:   Healthy animal "sub-populations" of a given species need to be connected to one another.  This is not only because animals need to travel to seek out new food and water sources. If an animal population is too isolated and cannot exchange genetic material with other sub populations, harmful alleles-- genetic characteristics--will be passed down frequently from one generation to another.  This can lead over time to sickness in the population, and deprive the population of traits that might be useful in a changing environment. What example, if there is less snow and rain, the animal population will need to be able to live with less access to water.  Over time, isolated populations can become extinct.)

To put it another way:  What is genetic drift?   Genetic drift is a natural process in which the gene pool changes slightly from one generation to another.  This is not normally a problem for large populations, but can be deadly in small populations.  As the gene pool becomes less diverse, there is a greater chance for negative traits, such as susceptibility to illness.  Genetic drift in a small population can lead to extinction (the loss of an entire species.)

5.  Bears seem happy to go through narrow underpasses.  This may be because they are familiar with caves  But some animals, such as cougars, seem reluctant to use the underpasses that have been made for them.  They may be frightened of anything sneaking up on them. And like many domestic cats, they like to be high up, so they can feel safe and look for prey below.  So DOT is building a big wildlife overpass for them at Price and Noble creeks. 

6. This overpass can’t just be made of concrete like a bridge for humans.  Animals need trees, bushes, grasses, dead logs, soil and boulders and natural-seeming shapes of the earth to feel safe as they cross.  Many animals seem to be frightened by noises, smells and vibrations of motor traffic on the interstate; the new bridge is designed so that motor vehicles go through tunnels and the animals will hardly realize they are crossing over traffic.

7.  Female cougars often spend their lives living and hunting near where they were born. But juvenile male cougars usually leave their mothers’ areas and need to travel long distances, sometimes up to 300 miles, to find a new area to live in.  The junior males are the ones that sometimes rush across a highway and are injured or killed by motor vehicles.

 8.  Smaller animals, such as snails, may need years to cross the highway, so the bridge has to contain a natural-enough environment. including familiar plants and soils,  that they can live within in for a long time as they slowly move across it.

9. A pika is a small animal related to rabbits,  Pikas have thick dense, fur so they don’t migrate: they would get too hot moving long distances in the summer. They live in the shade of talus rock piles or boulders, and disperse slowly between rock piles, trying to avoid being out in the open, where predators might catch and eat them. A pika may not travel more than one hundred feet in its lifetime. It would be more healthy for pika sub populations if they could be lnked, and connected to one another safely across the interstate.  Creating collections of boulders to replicate their natural habitat is required to ensure that pikas will feel safe enough to use wildlife passages, below or above the highway,

10.  Bears need to eat a great deal in the Fall, to get ready to hibernate in the winter.   When they hibernate, their heartbeat and breathing slows down, and they live off of their fat reserves.  Other animals lose muscle strength if they don’t exercise, but bears can recycle their stored proteins while they are hibernate, so their muscles do not “atrophy” (weaken) while they are hibernating. So when they come out of hibernation in the spring, they are just as strong as ever.

11.  Fun question: What should we call this bridge?  Right now, it is called the Price-Noble Crossing Structure, which is kind of boring. The puppets might ask if the audience  could help us come up with a good name for the bridge.

What other concepts should we try to communicate, and what might be good strategies in a  puppet play (or other exercises) to do this?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Puppetry in the Wildlife Connectivity Exhibition

We've created a small "wildlife passage puppet theater" atop the wildlife bridge constructed  by Chris Koski and his team in the center of the museum, for our new exhibition "How did the cougar cross the road; restoring wildlife passages in Snoqualmie Pass" (opening tomorrow).  Under the stage, we've made a yellow highway sign declaring "Wildlife Passage Puppet Theater Above," with a squiggly arrow pointing upwards  Underneath, we expect young children will be crawling through the highway tunnels, pushing along toy trucks and cars.

Our hope is that children visiting the museum will in time compose their own short plays with puppets, either those that we provide or those that they make in the art station area. To start things out, we'll bring need to draft some scripts which our student interns can perform for visiting children.

One idea, suggested by our imaginative friend Yuko Hosoi (in Hirosaki, Japan) is that one animal, playing the role of a TV reporter, interview other animals about what they think of the new wildlife bridge.

So here's a very rough, preliminary script idea:


I'm Belinda Bear,  roving correspondent for television station WILD, reporting live from the brand new Price-Noble wildlife crossing structure near Snoqualmie Pass.   

LORETTA LYNX (entering) 

Hmm, I always said I would never, ever want  to cross that big smelly, noisy highway. But I think I might try to cross this beautiful new bridge!


Why, Loretta Lynx, what a surprise to see you here! I thought you never came anywhere near the interstate.


That's right, Belinda Bear, I much prefer to stay on my side of the highway,  unlike my brothers, who go racing across the road without giving any thought to their own safety.  (ASIDE TO AUDIENCE) Silly boys!


So our viewers are wondering, Loretta Lynx, why are you crossing the bridge today?


Well, I've been separated from my family south of the interstate since 1966. I'm eager to visit them even my silly brothers.  And this is such a beautiful bridge, i just had to try it out.


So you approve of the bridge?


Absolutely. I know you bears are perfectly happy to crawl through the underpasses, but we lynxes and cougars,  we like to be on top of things!   And it is so much fun looking down at all those funny people racing back and forth!   I really have to congratulate those engineers at WS DOT; this really is best way to travel.

So , I better be off---  South Cascades, here I come!


Well, there you have it. Our very first satisfied customer, trying out the new Price Noble wildlife bridge. 

And for Station WILD, this is Belinda Bear, wishing all animals out there a happy day of eco-connectivity!

---THE END---


We're hoping the little puppet skits can help communicate a range of important environmental contexts-- including the significance of bio-diversity, the necessity of healthy wildlife corridors, the lifeways of pika and other small mammals, etc. I'm not quite sure how we'll manage the rather fraught relationship between predators and prey, or some of the subtleties of genetic connectivity, but I'm sure  our students and visitors will come up with some imaginative, unexpected solutions.  And it would be great to see puppetry plays being written and performed in Spanish and other languages.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Teaching about wildlife corridors

The MCE's upcoming exhibition, 'How did the cougar cross the road...Restoring Wildlife Passages at Snoqualmie Pass" offers some exciting opportunities to develop new strategies in environmental education in museum settings.   The exhibition is centered on a recreation of the planned wildlife bridge, which will be built over the next several years near Price Creek, south of Lake Keechelas, allowing wildlife to cross the interstate safely. What kinds of safe, educational activities could take place on this ramp and platform? 

For instance, we do have a few wildlife hand puppets: could children use part of the platform as a kind of "Wildlife Puppet Theater" and perform little puppet plays about wildlife for children and adults standing on the floor below?  Would we need to create a kind of small frame with a curtain on the main platform for such a purpose?

Perhaps we could also, in the "Art Lab" section, have materials for children who hope to make their own animal hand puppets, to take home or leave at the museum for other children to use in the Wildlife Puppet Theater.

We will have animal pawprint casts in the show, and also hope to place vinyl pawprints along the pathway leading up the wildlife bridge. What would be good ways to teach children to learn to identify the specific animals associated with each kind of pawprint?

We also have some plastic animal dung or scat from different wild animals. What activities involving this material might be fun and educational for children?