"Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!: Creating Community or Creating Chaos at the NMAI?"
Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My! Creating Community or Creating Chaos at the nmai ? elizabeth archuleta For those of you accustomed to a structure that moves from point A to point B to point C, this presentation may be somewhat difﬁcult to follow because the structure of Pueblo expression resembles something like a spider’s web—with many little threads radiating from a center, criss- crossing each other. As with the web, the structure will emerge as it is made and you must simply listen and trust, as the Pueblo people do, that meaning will be made. Leslie Marmon Silko For the September 2004 First Americans Festival, Washington Post jour- nalists attempted to convey what they observed when thousands of In- digenous peoples converged on the nation’s capital to celebrate the Na- tional Museum of the American Indian’s grand opening. Newspaper articles on the First Americans Festival tended to be positive, undoubt- edly because reporters saw “real” Indians in bright colors, beads, buck- skin, and feathers; nevertheless, items seemingly out of place puzzled them. One reporter expressed his surprise at seeing Indians in full regalia with cell phones, describing the image as “almost anachronistic.” He ex- pressed astonishment at seeing Indian families pushing high-end strollers, Indians drinking Pepsi, and Indians not looking “classically In- dian,” never explaining what “classically Indian” means.1 While reports on the First Americans Festival tended to be congenial, coverage of the426 Archuleta: Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!
museum was mixed. Surprisingly, some journalists even expressed an-noyance. For example, Marc Fisher proclaims, “The museum feels like atrade show in which each group of Indians gets space to sell its foundingmyth and favorite anecdotes of survival.” Fisher appears to admonish theSmithsonian for “let[ting] the Indians present themselves as they wish tobe seen,” hinting at the irresponsibility of a decision that led to the mu-seum’s failure to provide its visitors with the tools they need to “judge theIndians’ version of their story.” 2 In similar fashion, Paul Richard’s museum review begins with a cri-tique of curators for exhibits that he describes as confusing and unclearlymarked.3 He compares his failure to understand the exhibits with the Pu-ritans’ failure to make sense of the Indians they had encountered nearlyfour hundred years ago. He notes that just as the Puritans felt stymied,confused, and unable to “explain” or account for the Indians, so too doeshe feel confused and unable to explain the Indians he encounters in themuseum. His confession demonstrates how little some have learnedabout the peoples whose lands they now occupy. As a result of his bewil-derment, Richard cautions potential visitors that “the new museum . . . isbetter from the outside than it is from the in,” a statement that clearly in-dicates the way he “knows” Indians—superﬁcially. From this appraisal,his review moves beyond a mere evaluation; his annoyance and confu-sion evolve into an attack. Richard’s apparent rage puzzled me and left mewondering how my perception of the museum would differ. When I at-tended the museum later that day, I attempted to make sense of his reviewby contrasting his descriptions and questions with my own observations. Many of the exhibits do resist easy classiﬁcation, but these displayscontribute to the museum’s strength as well as to its subversive charac-teristics. Annoyed that the museum’s “Indians” remain beyond classiﬁ-cation, at least in his estimation, Richard charges curators with creatingan anomalous claim: “Indians are all different; overarching Indiannessmakes them all alike.” Exasperated at this perceived claim’s presumed in-consistency, which disrupts his notion of what an Indian is, he angrilyasks and then replies: “Well, which is it? The museum can’t make up itsmind.” Richard dismisses Indigenous peoples’ belief that their shared ex-periences connect them historically, cognitively, and spiritually in waysthat resist uncomplicated classiﬁcation or codiﬁcation by appearance,blood quantum, or cdib number. american indian quarterly / summer & fall 2005 / vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 427
figure 1. Body and Soul. nmai. Photograph by author. Yet, just as journalists want their “Indians” to remain familiar, un- touched by time, and without cell phones or strollers, Richard also wants his “Indians” easily identiﬁed and uncomplicated (ﬁgure 1). He asks, What is this Indianness? Well, according to your cdib [Certiﬁcate of Degree of Indian Blood issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs], it comes with your genes; you inherit it. A thousand cultures share it. Indianness exists in people now alive and those dead 12,000 years. It is ineffably mysterious. No one can describe it except in generalities. He accepts their diversity as represented in the museum, but he refuses to accept that blood, history, and experience also contribute to a larger and more contemporary sense of self. The apparent incongruity between a historical and contemporary Indian identity for Richard leads him to describe Indianness in what he sees as generalities: Indianness is not just vague. It also is so elastic you can stretch it to cover Inuit walrus hunters, Mohawk skyscraper constructors, public-information specialists, plumed Aztec kings, Mississippi mound-builders, political activists, ﬁlmmakers, Navajo code- talkers, surﬁng Hawaiians, art professors, bus drivers and all the other individuals that the Indian Museum claims to represent.428 Archuleta: Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!
Richard’s rejection of the multiple ways of constructing Indian identityemphasizes his ignorance about Indians even more. He continues toquestion and challenge the multiple ways that Indigenous peopleschoose to identify themselves: “I don’t buy it. To be accepted ofﬁcially asa Nez Perce, according to Title Six, the Enrollment Ordinance, you needat least one-fourth Nez Perce blood. What about the other three-quar-ters? ” Here, he once again makes clear that blood, for him, determinesidentity; yet, his attitude suggests that mixed-blood identities are dimin-ished the more diluted one’s blood becomes. The controversy over au-thenticity and Indian identity is an outdated conﬂict that still plays outamong certain groups and with individuals like Richard. His reaction also demonstrates the complicated task of distinguishingbetween legal and biological deﬁnitions of Indianness when he sarcasti-cally charges Indians with equating blood and culture: “The notion thatone’s spirit, one’s values, one’s identity, arrives automatically with what-ever blood-percentage deﬁnes you as an Indian smacks too much of oc-toroons and pass laws in South Africa and sewn-on Stars of David.” Al-though the federal government imposes blood quantum standards ontribes, Richard still chooses to ignore an aspect of U.S. history that con-tributes to a generalized view of Indians and authenticity—the more In-dian blood one has, the more “Indian” one is. He also perceives the cul-tural components of identity as existing apart from the human activitythat creates identity. Clearly, Richard’s confusion about Indianness car-ries across many issues and undoubtedly stems from an ignorance thatleads to a misreading of the museum and the communities that createdthe exhibits. My walk through the museum produced vastly different results. Myvisit led me past Indigenous “self-portraits” that both mediate popularstereotypes such as those held by Fisher and Richard as well as stereo-types that respond to the general tendency to imagine Indians alwaysat the periphery (yes, we do use cell phones and high-end strollers anddrink soda). But more signiﬁcantly, I saw the museum presenting mul-tiple stories structured like the spider web that Silko uses to explain theprocess of Pueblo storytelling. Rather than structure the exhibits in a waythat guides visitors and “teaches” them about Indians, leading themfrom point A to point B to point C, museum curators structured themlike the “many little threads” of a spider web with each strand adding to american indian quarterly / summer & fall 2005 / vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 429
the larger picture. This method of organization means that visitors have to set aside notions they previously held about museums and Indians, “listen” to the stories being told in the exhibits, and trust that meaning will be made if they become involved in the storytelling process. Indigenous peoples throughout the world are connected through shared histories and understandings, so instead of creating objective models of reality displayed for the public’s ediﬁcation, many more twen- tieth-century museums are creating space as forums for debating the past and giving voice to the historically silenced. Nevertheless, having grown accustomed to museums’ authoritative role in deﬁning percep- tion, Fisher and Richard expect to remain passive observers at the nmai rather than active participants in the narration process. Fisher criticizes the museum for failing to offer “any science or sociological theories” that would clarify what he saw. In similar fashion, Richard proclaims the ex- hibits to be “disheartening” due to unbalanced installations that lack ex- planation or theories similar to those that Fisher had desired. Moreover, Richard encounters and describes exhibits that sound chaotic and space that is either too sparse or too cramped and ﬁlled with a mixture of “totem poles and T-shirts, headdresses and masks, toys and woven bas- kets, projectile points and gym shoes,” which he describes as “all stirred decoratively together in no important order that the viewer can discern.” In this description of individual items, it becomes clear that Richard fails to appreciate that the key to comprehending the larger story contained within this seemingly random collection lies in the visitor’s ability to connect the individual stories in each display by understanding their re- lationship across all of the exhibits. As forums for storytelling, the nmai exhibits initiate and even encour- age dialogue, a relationship that Western museums avoided before the repatriation movement of the 1980s and 1990s. Before the appearance of tribal museums or the nmai, Indigenous peoples’ only museum appear- ances came at the expense of their communities after government-spon- sored exhibitions and private collectors robbed many tribal nations of their cultural patrimony.4 The colonial nature of earlier museums led to displays that were narrowly deﬁned before the passage of the National Museum of the American Indian Act (nmaia) and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (nagpra).5 After the enactment of nmaia and nagpra, however, museums’ trust obligations shifted, forcing them to form relationships and engage in dialogue. Historically,430 Archuleta: Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!
museums have perceived themselves as maintaining collections thatbeneﬁt the larger public rather than speciﬁc constituent groups, but withthe passage of these key pieces of federal legislation, museums have hadto support, collaborate, and interact with Indigenous nations whosecultural heritage and ancestral remains they held until the passage ofnagpra and the building of a museum by and for Indigenous peopleslong silenced by colonial power. The nmai’s decision to challenge traditional museum modes of exhi-bition is political in that the outcome confronts stereotypes created bymuseums and other knowledge-producing institutions. More often thannot, Indigenous peoples have not recognized themselves in “traditional”museum exhibits because the displays have overlooked or concealedtheir realities. The nmaia and nagpra have empowered tribal nations todislocate and relocate themselves away from museums’ colonialist ten-dencies by scrutinizing the process of annihilation inherent in “tradi-tional” exhibits and freeing themselves from outsider representationsand interpretations. Therefore, the nmai should be read as a testamentto Indians’ ability to adapt and change yet remain true to the core valuesof their tribal nations regardless of change. Achieving museological lib-eration and working against established structures, practices, and imagesby substituting them with Indigenous models is a decision that has thepotential to destabilize and dislocate its majority audience as evidencedby Fisher’s and Richard’s responses. Had he looked more closely, Rich-ard would have seen that even the artwork to which he refers to dis-paragingly as “gym shoes” contain multiple stories rather than stereo-types of Kiowa peoples. Since societal stereotypes obscure the reality of Indigenous peoples’lives, nmai curators had the courage and vision to transform the stric-tures that Western museums have established and situate Indigenousstories in exhibits that intermingle experiences of cultural persistenceand change. The gym shoes narrate such a story of change and adapta-tion. As she explains it, Kiowa artist Teri Greeves tells stories throughbeaded sneakers in order to educate others about the history and valuesof her people and to bring balance into the world.6 Her beaded sneakers,including those entitled We Gave Two Horses for Our Son, Gourd Dance,and Grandma and Grandpa Raised Me at Warm Valley, celebrate andhonor signiﬁcant events as well as Kiowa traditions and peoples. The redbeaded sneakers in the nmai exhibit celebrate children (ﬁgure 2). The american indian quarterly / summer & fall 2005 / vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 431
figure 2. Teri Greeves, Kiowa Aw-Day. nmai. Photograph by author. text that accompanies the shoes explains: “Traditionally Aw-Day (Fa- vorite Children) lead the Kiowa Black Legging Society into the dance arena as preparation for tribal leadership.” Greeves beaded her son onto this pair of shoes to celebrate his presence as a favorite child who will one day assume a leadership role among his people. Not only does she celebrate her family and community through her artwork, Greeves also challenges several popular assumptions with her sneakers. First, she challenges the notion that history can only be passed down through words, oral histories, or written text. Next, she challenges the notion that Indians have abandoned older ways of communicating. Greeves tells her histories one bead at a time in images she creates rather than words she writes, meaning her work resembles those stories con- tained in pictographs. Finally, by incorporating larger histories beaded onto high-top sneakers Greeves’s work echoes Lee Marmon’s photo White Man’s Moccasins, and both challenge traditional images of Indians432 Archuleta: Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!
in moccasins. Like Marmon, Greeves also self-consciously adapts thetraditional with the contemporary.7 Altogether, Greeves’s beaded storieschallenge the tendency to privilege text. Nevertheless, Richard refused to“hear” or “read” her pictographic narrative when he singled out the pres-ence of her artwork for criticism. Unfortunately, Richard interprets everything he sees as a hodgepodgeof items unclearly marked and incoherently displayed. Consequently, hedoes not “listen” well enough to make meaning out of the stories em-bedded in items such as sneakers. Neither does he understand how thestories in the shoes connect with the multitude of additional stories con-tained in other seemingly disparate items. In her multi-genre text en-titled Storyteller, Leslie Marmon Silko claims that all of the stories needto be told before one can create a sense of self or community because, ac-cording to her, stories tell individuals who they are. Therefore, she in-cludes in her book the letters, photographs, family stories, oral stories,anecdotes, gossip, jokes, poems, and legends that make up the patchworkcollection of her family’s life and their connections to land and com-munity.8 Resembling this Pueblo web of stories is the nmai’s larger webof Indigenous narratives created from a combination of totem poles,T-shirts, woven baskets, and yes, even gym shoes. Altogether, these itemscontribute to a story that tells Indians who they are by what they share asdisparate groups. For political reasons, many Indigenous artists encode their work withadditional meaning through the stories inherent in their art, leaving thetask of interpretation up to the viewer. Before viewers can unravel anobject’s political signiﬁcance, however, they must ﬁrst understand thatIndigenous stories sometimes contain an absence that is always present,inviting the “listener” in. For example, Greeves encodes her sneakerswith histories and political connotations that give the shoes added mean-ing, but her audience must read between the lines. They must be re-sponsible for uncovering the histories or narratives left untold such asthe history of the Kiowa Black Legging Society. Kimberly Blaeser adviseslisteners or readers of Indigenous stories that “We have a response-abil-ity and a responsibility to the telling. We can and we must make the storytogether.” 9 The result of creating a story together, of taking responsibil-ity for meaning making, means that there is no “truth” or ending to thestory because listeners constantly recreate and remake the stories in or-der to add their own truths based on their own experiences and perspec- american indian quarterly / summer & fall 2005 / vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 433
tives. The narrator in Betty Louise Bell’s novel Faces in the Moon de- scribes the process of meaning making in Indigenous cultures: “They heard, and they taught me to hear, the truth in things not said. They lis- tened, and they taught me to listen in the space between words.” 10 The narrator learns how to listen for the unspoken, the unarticulated. She does not expect anyone to explain the story; she must make meaning for herself. By saying less rather than more, the museum’s exhibits require the same kind of active participation or response-ability of their audi- ence. Finally, they require patience in order to understand things not said. They require the “listener” to pull meaning out of blank spaces. Space is never neutral, nor is it ever merely a backdrop in which people live out their lives; space is literally ﬁlled with ideologies and pol- itics. For example, the District of Columbia is a city dominated by marble and granite and neo-classical styles that are reminiscent of the United States’ transplanted European heritage and reminders of a gov- ernment that has tried desperately to assimilate Indians, transforming them into white Americans. The nmai’s presence in space largely occu- pied by the federal government challenges this heritage and history and asserts Indigenous peoples’ survival. Although it was built in the last available space on the National Mall, the museum now occupies the ﬁrst place on the Mall facing the National Capitol building. For Richard, however, the politics of unnamed space is unobservable and therefore meaningless, even after an nmai placard claims and politicizes space by naming and deﬁning it: Native space is land—and something more. Native space is a way of feeling, thinking, and acting. Even away from our ancestral lands, we carry our Native space with us. All of the Americas is Native space, but in the course of 500 years most of us have been displaced. Even today, indigenous people continue to be uprooted from an- cestral homelands.11 The placard identiﬁes the Americas not as American, Canadian, or Mex- ican but as Native. Jolene Rickard’s and Gabrielle Tayac’s inscription of space is double-edged. They inscribe Native space as land that contains emotion and thought and action. But more important, they present a truth that remains unspoken: “All of the Americas is Native space.” By “reading” and identifying space as Native and space as land, Rickard’s and Tayac’s placard embodies an historical claim. It asserts territorial434 Archuleta: Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!
figure 3. Mapping Kuna Yala. nmai. Photograph by author.possession, proclaiming what Indigenous peoples have always known:that the Americas are and will always be Indian Country in spite of re-movals, relocations, and displacements, and even in spite of being thelast group invited to occupy space on the National Mall. Other museum items that silently challenge non-Indigenous assump-tions about space appear in political documents such as the Kunas’ mapof their homeland, the Comarca Kuna Yala (ﬁgure 3). Text that accom- american indian quarterly / summer & fall 2005 / vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 435
panies the map places in a historical and global context what museum goers see—the ongoing colonization of the world’s Indigenous peoples. nmai curators share with museum-goers some of the numerous threats that the Kunas and their homelands now face because they “do not pos- sess documents proving their ownership.” 12 These threats include the invasion of Kuna Yala by loggers, cattle ranchers, land developers, and landless settlers from overcrowded and already developed provinces. The Pan-American Highway’s scheduled completion represents another threat. In Central America, the Kunas occupy Panama’s Darién region, which contains the largest section of intact rainforest. Although the re- gion became a designated buffer zone in the 1970s, protecting the U.S. cattle industry from the hoof-and-mouth disease endemic to Colombia, it also remains the only uncompleted section of the Pan-American High- way.13 Due to the ever-present cloud cover, maps of this region are based only on approximations.14 Therefore, it is highly likely that engineers would have to thoroughly explore and map the region before construc- tion can begin. The absences contained in Western maps are the histo- ries of colonization, and outsider attempts to map the Kuna Yala would create and expand these silences. Like space, maps are not neutral documents that contain facts and ﬁgures. In the past, colonial regimes named, organized, constructed, and controlled space and place through the imperialistic practice of mapmaking. Maps are virtual realities that represent for the colonizers permanent and visible markers of conquest, domination, the triumph of civilization, and the subjugation of nature. Maps are also myths de- signed to conceal Indigenous ways of knowing and connecting with their homelands. When the Kunas began the project of mapping their homeland, they were, at the same time, unmapping colonial space by removing the vis- ible markers that colonial societies have used to deﬁne themselves and le- gitimate their ongoing occupation. These markers have concealed for colonizers Kuna ways of knowing and identifying Comarca Kuna Yala. In Race, Space, and the Law, Sherene Razack claims that although mapping enabled colonizers to legally claim and possess lands they came upon, unmapping undermines “the idea of white settler innocence (the notion that European settlers merely settled and developed the land) and to un- cover the ideologies and practices of conquest and domination.” 15 The Kunas’ map includes sites important to their traditional way of life. Their436 Archuleta: Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!
mapping project ensures that the “real” names and land use patterns forthe geographical landscape include those places where they hunt, ﬁsh,cut ﬁrewood, gather medicinal plants, and pick fruit.16 The Kunas’ namesreplace those that have only been given recently, after colonization. Themap’s accuracy and detail has even encouraged the Instituto Geográﬁcoto use it in order to update ofﬁcial Republic of Panama maps. The Kunas’ combined Western mapmaking techniques with theirown complex cultural cartographies signify a conscious reclamation ofspace in the creation of a political document that blends the traditional(their accumulated geographical knowledge) with the contemporary(the science of mapping and the legalities of ownership). The map em-bodies both a historical claim as well as a geographic assertion, trans-forming it into something resembling Rickard’s and Tayac’s placard: themap asserts territorial possession. Moreover, it makes a property claimby formally delineating and authenticating Comarca Kuna Yala. In an in-terview, Marc Chapin from the Center for the Support of Native Landsobserves that the Kunas’ map represents their effort to “work within thepolitical system and through the courts of law” to legitimize their landclaim.17 This was their reason for creating the map in the ﬁrst place,so the Kunas’ inclusion in the nmai retells a story of ongoing strugglesto protect Indigenous lands. Their inclusion also signals an awarenessamong Indigenous peoples that struggles at the local level also occur atthe global level. The shared experience of land struggles that help deﬁne “Indianness”connects many of the museum’s narratives. Other stories that echothreats to the Kunas’ land include tales of the Central American Dias-pora, Clause 231, and the Yakamas’ Closed Area. The museum deﬁnes“diaspora” as displacement from one’s ancestral homeland, the spacewhere one’s identity formed (ﬁgure 4). Even though 1980s civil wars dis-placed close to one million Indigenous people in Central America, thesegroups transplanted their traditions to their new homes, taking their Na-tive spaces with them. Many of these displaced groups have ended up inthe United States, but most still long to return home. While diaspora dis-places some from their lands, Western legal systems render others inca-pable of making decisions about lands they still occupy. Brazil is onesuch example. Since 1934 Brazil’s Constitution presumably protects andpreserves for Indigenous peoples the lands they occupy. Clause 231, para-graph 1 of Brazil’s 1988 constitution deﬁnes occupation as american indian quarterly / summer & fall 2005 / vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 437
figure 4. Central American Diaspora. nmai. Photograph by author. lands traditionally occupied by the Indians and inhabited by them on a permanent basis, used for their production activities, essential for the conservation of the environmental resources necessary for their well-being and those necessary for their physical and cul- tural reproduction, in accordance with their uses, customs and traditions.18 In spite of this outwardly liberal policy, Brazil’s Civil Code nevertheless “puts indigenous peoples in the same category as minors—persons ‘rel- atively incapable of exercising certain rights.’” 19 The museum publicizes the struggles of Indigenous peoples in Panama, Central America, and438 Archuleta: Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!
figure 5. Yakama Enterprises. nmai. Photograph by author.Brazil to protect, preserve, and remain in their homelands, renderingtheir stories visible in a space of power, the U.S. capital. Closer to home is Washington State’s Yakama Nation, telling a story ofsuccessful nation building. One of their display cases includes a bottle ofBroken Spear pickled asparagus, a box of Chief Yakama apples, a base-ball cap, a timber industry catalog, and pictures of a warehouse and fruitorchard (ﬁgure 5). At ﬁrst glance they might appear to be examples of thethousands of businesses that exploit Indian imagery to sell their prod-ucts; but the placards tell a different story. At a time when non-Indiansbelieve casinos to be the only money-making venture on reservations,the Yakamas’ products dispel this stereotype. In 1950 the Yakama NationLand Enterprise was created as an institution to offset the crisis of landloss. The Enterprise is an institutional vehicle that oversees the manage-ment, control, and promotion of land re-purchase and development onbehalf of the Yakama Nation. In addition to increasing the reservation’sland base by tens of thousands of acres, the Enterprise has also con-tributed to the development of agriculture, timber, and tourism indus- american indian quarterly / summer & fall 2005 / vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 439
tries. Moreover, in addition to selling “pears to Del Monte Corporation and Monson Fruit,” the Enterprise also “developed three Yakama Nation Apple labels, and popularized its Broken Spear Pickled Asparagus” and has successfully marketed its products overseas as well. As a result of its success here and abroad, the Enterprise now “purchases between three and six million dollars worth of land every year,” incorporating it into their current land base.20 Alongside successful nation building efforts are efforts to preserve documents that signify a powerful claim to space and place that deﬁnes and embodies Yakama culture and identity. Clearly exhibiting pride in their economic achievements, the Yakamas also include items that serve as reminders of times very different from today: they include original pages from an 1855 treaty that formed fourteen tribes and bands into the Yakama Nation (ﬁgure 6). Indigenous peoples regard treaties as sacred documents not to be violated, a sentiment voiced by community mem- ber Carol Craig: “Back in the ’60s, some non-tribal people would won- der, ‘Why are Yakama people talking about these antiquated pieces of paper? They don’t mean anything.’ But those people didn’t realize the rights the treaty guaranteed us. These rights have been reafﬁrmed in sev- eral different court cases over the years.” 21 “These antiquated pieces of paper” not only represent rights, they also represent land and lives lost to westward expansion and colonialism and so are made sacred by blood. Afﬁrming this sacred connection to land is the Closed Area, a pro- tected and restricted land area, another part of the Yakamas’ nmai ex- hibit. The Closed Area remains sacred because it is strictly controlled and “accessible only to tribal members, their immediate family members, and select outsiders.” Created in 1954 and comprising 807,000 mostly- forested acres, the Closed Area is described by community member Lehigh John as a place where you can go and “pick up a piece of dirt and run it through their ﬁngers and say, ‘This is Yakama land that no one can take away from us.’” 22 These are just some of the stories of land lost and land regained that interlink the web of stories in the museum and create shared histories that contribute to a collective sense of “Indianness.” Another museum item that contests received notions of legally de- marcated space is the Haudenosaunee passport (ﬁgure 7), whose mere existence signals a refusal to defer to the border by identifying Kah- nawa’kehrónon as citizens of the Iroquois Confederacy.23 The Hau-440 Archuleta: Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!
figure 6. Yakama Treaty of 1855. nmai. Photograph by author.denosaunees do not deﬁne their national status based on U.S. or Cana-dian terms. They deﬁne themselves through the Gayanashagowa, theGreat Law of Peace, and the Guswentah, the Two Row Wampum, the lat-ter being an agreement with the Dutch colonists that the Hau-denosaunees have honored since the seventeenth century.24 The Hau-denosaunees interpret the wampum belt to say: american indian quarterly / summer & fall 2005 / vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 441
figure 7. Iroquois Confederacy Passport. nmai. Photograph by author. You say that you are our Father and I am your son. We say, We will not be like Father and Son, but like Brothers. This wampum belt conﬁrms our words. These two rows will symbolize two paths or two vessels, traveling down the same river together. One, a birch bark canoe, will be for the Indian People, their laws, their customs442 Archuleta: Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!
and their ways. The other, a ship, will be for the white people and their laws, their customs and their ways. We shall each travel the river together, side by side, but in our boat. Neither of us will make compulsory laws or interfere in the internal affairs of the other. Nei- ther of us will try to steer the other’s vessel. The agreement has been kept by the Iroquois to this date. Passports are formal documents issued by national governments to their citizens, which allow for travel abroad as well as exit and reentry into the country.25The Mohawks’ refusal to defer to a border diminishes the legal status ofan “objective” boundary or imaginary line deﬁned and enforced by theUnited States and Canada. It is the Gayanashagowa and the Guswentahthat deﬁne and embody the boundaries of Haudenosaunee culture,lands, and identity, and this claim extends both historically and geo-graphically. As a legal document, the passport also challenges Canadian and U.S.legal claims that would attempt to diminish the sovereign status of na-tions that make up the Iroquois Confederacy. In 1794 the Jay Treaty rec-ognized the Haudenosaunee peoples’ right to move freely across Cana-dian and U.S. borders. Nevertheless, in the twentieth century the UnitedStates challenged this right when they arrested Paul Kanento Diabo forworking in the United States. The Mohawks’ nmai exhibit includes astatement about this event, asserting that Diabo “sued the U.S., claiminghis arrest violated his rights as a citizen of the Mohawk Nation under theJay Treaty,” and concludes with the statement, “In Diabo v. McCandless(1927), a U.S. court ruled in his favor.” The Mohawk Nation occupies aspace that refuses to become “American” or “Canadian,” that refuses tocross over into a status other than Mohawk. In 2001 the Mohawks’ pridein maintaining and protecting their sovereign status for almost four-hundred years was expressed through Laura Norton, a communitymember quoted in the exhibit: “In this community, we’ve never recog-nized the border. We’re here because we’ve always been here, and we willalways be here. These countries developed around us, and we kept mov-ing back and forth across the border.” Like Greeves’s beaded sneakersand the Kunas’ map, the Haudenosaunee passport evolves out of an oraltradition, this one contained within a wampum belt; the passport is anextension of that tradition. american indian quarterly / summer & fall 2005 / vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 443
Many American Indians perceive their communities as maintaining dual citizenship—they see themselves as citizens of their tribal nations as well as citizens of the United States. The exception to this notion is the Haudenosaunees, who have exercised their sovereignty by refusing to ac- knowledge U.S. or Canadian citizenship or national and international boundaries. Like the Kunas’ map, the Haudenosaunee passport throws off the mantle of colonialism by disregarding what Lauren Berlant calls the “national symbolic,” or the “ofﬁcial story about what the nation means, and how it works.” 26 As the accepted version of a nation’s identity, the na- tional symbolic controls collective memory by excluding counter memo- ries; yet, the Jay Treaty, Diabo v. McCandless, and the Haudenosaunee passport challenge the Canadian and U.S. national symbolic. The pass- port also challenges Canadian and U.S. myths of national identity and sovereignty, because other countries recognize the Haudenosaunees’ sta- tus as a sovereign nation, which is evidenced by their membership in the International Lacrosse Federation, who ofﬁcially welcomed the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team. When the team travels outside their nation’s boundaries, they take their Haudenosaunee passports, not U.S. or Cana- dian passports.27 The museum’s inclusion of the Haudenosaunee pass- port helps visitors to understand how tribal nations continue to preserve items signiﬁcant to their traditions, and at the same time the passport re- ﬂects how their lives have changed and evolved. Contained within the passport is knowledge that Indigenous peoples’ lives cannot be viewed in a vacuum or in isolation from the institutions and events that have shaped them today. While the museum records the presence of the “new,” they also relay the persistence of Indigenous worldviews. The exhibit Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World (ﬁgure 8) introduces visitors to Indigenous peoples’ philosophies, intellectual traditions, and beliefs that, to my knowledge, Western museums have never presented because Euroamericans once believed that only Western civilizations created philosophies and generated knowledge. The eight Indigenous philoso- phies represented in Our Universes relate a set of common values neces- sary for maintaining and ordering society in ways that contribute to sur- vival. In The Anishinaabe Universe, curators refer to these values as “the seven teachings,” which include “honesty, love, courage, truth, wisdom, humility, and respect.” The Pueblo of Santa Clara Universe (ﬁgure 9)444 Archuleta: Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!
figure 8. Our Universes. nmai. Photograph by author.refers to survival strategies as “seeking a good life.” “Seeking” impliesmovement and a constant state of ﬂux, meaning that a society composedof humans is never set but always moving along a continuum that seeksbalance and harmony. Santa Clara Pueblo curators recognize the humaninclination toward weakness, jealousy, and indecision that exists along-side human strength and courage. Thus, this placard belies notions ofIndians as never changing, never encountering temptations that chal-lenge identity and survival. While I went in to this particular exhibit realizing that I would learnabout the various philosophies that form the foundation of diverse In-digenous worldviews, I could not help but think that the introductorypanel that greets visitors to Our Universes would be problematic. Itstates: In this gallery, you’ll discover how Native people understand their place in the universe and order their daily lives. Our philosophies of life come from our ancestors. They taught us to live in harmony with the animals, plants, spirit world, and the people around us. In Our Universes, you’ll encounter Native people from the Western hemisphere who continue to express this wisdom in ceremonies, american indian quarterly / summer & fall 2005 / vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 445
figure 9. Santa Clara Pueblo. nmai. Photograph by author. celebrations, languages, arts, religions, and daily life. It is our duty to pass these teachings on to succeeding generations. For that is the way to keep our traditions alive.28 Despite the truths the placard contains, and even though Her Many Horses meant for it to be instructive, the rhetoric presents Indigenous philosophies as something hauntingly familiar to non-Indigenous peo- ples through Hollywood movies or New Age spirituality. The panel sim- pliﬁes Indigenous philosophies by describing them as enabling “life in harmony with the animals, plants, spirit world, and . . . people.” Not only is this familiar to many non-Natives, it also presents beliefs and values that a good number of non-Indigenous people would undoubtedly claim they hold. This panel, therefore, troubles me in that it might reinforce stereotypes and attitudes about American Indians already held by the dominant culture, and I base my presumption on further comments that appear in Richard’s review. It appears that Richard’s observation of this exhibit reinforces the con-446 Archuleta: Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!
tradictions that he perceives in the museum as a whole, which leads himto make another allegation: We keep seeing the Indian through lenses cracked by rickety, ro- mantic or contradictory assumptions. We’ve been doing this so for centuries. It’s built into our heritage; it’s part of who we are. The museum does the same. . . . From 1913 to 1938, after slaughtering the buffalo, the Indian’s fellow victim, we put that creature on our nickel and will do so soon again. We want it both ways. We treat the Indian with disdain while appropriating his special strength with missiles called the Tomahawk and sedans called the Pontiac and ball teams named the Redskins and the Indians and the Braves. The mu- seum wants it both ways, too.Renato Rosaldo identiﬁes the phenomenon that Richard tries to explain.Rosaldo calls it “imperialist nostalgia,” or a yearning for that which onehas transformed or destroyed.29 Surprisingly, as part of the larger “we,”Richard implies that he too prefers images of romantic over “real” Indi-ans because he disapproves of contemporary Indigenous realities. Evenmore surprising, when he alleges that Indians also prefer imagined overreal images of themselves, he transforms himself into a spokesperson forpeoples he clearly misunderstands. Moreover, when Richard mistakenlyrefers to Indians and buffalo as victims, he debases the continuance andsurvival of both. As it afﬁrms not only the literal but also the spiritualsurvival of the world’s Indigenous peoples, the museum counterbalancesgovernmental and extra-legal efforts to destroy them. By replacing sci-ence and sociological theories with words characteristic of Indigenousstorytelling, the most important thing the curators do is deny their ex-hibits the kind of narrative closure that Western facts and theories bringabout. The stories told through generations and the evolving of stories overtime interweaves individual and tribal experiences together to create ashared sense of Indianness. Just as the spider creates a web strand bystrand, its beauty is not evident until the end when the pattern material-izes. The storyteller’s talent becomes apparent when the story maintainsor strengthens community. Indigenous stories have a purpose beyondentertainment; they record the details of daily existence little known be-yond stereotypes and reinforced by popular culture, and they make vis-ible the cross-fertilization that has taken place among and between In- american indian quarterly / summer & fall 2005 / vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 447
digenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The nmai’s stories attempt to ini- tiate dialogue and reinforce a sense of community even when the issues and items community curators have chosen to exhibit appear divisive, chaotic, or complex. Stories maintain a history, and the nmai’s exhibits capture histories that include the United States as one frame of reference in a more complex reality that encompasses Indigenous peoples’ lives. notes 1. Hank Stuever, “A Family Reunion: Opening Day on the Mall Brings Tradi- tions into the Light of Today,” Washington Post, Wednesday, September 22, 2004. 2. Marc Fisher, “Indian Museum’s Appeal, Sadly, Only Skin-Deep,” Wash- ington Post, December 6, 2004, http://www.washingtonpost.com/. 3. Paul Richard, “Shards of Many Untold Stories: In Place of Unity, a Melange of Unconnected Objects,” Washington Post, December 6, 2004, http://www.washingtonpost.com/. 4. They also came at the expense of individuals who became “live” exhibits, including Ishi, Minik, and others. 5. The nmaia was enacted on November 28, 1989, and nagpra was enacted on November 16, 1990. 6. “Teri Greeves: Eric and Barbara Dobkin Native American Artist Fellow, 2003,” School of American Research Web site, http://www.sarweb.org/iarc/ dobkin/greeves03.htm. 7. Laura Addison, “Traditions/ Technologies: Contemporary Art Practices in New Mexico,” Capital City Arts Initiative Web site, http://www.arts-initiative .org/live/neighbors/essays/laura_addison.html. 8. Leslie Marmon Silko, Storyteller (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1981). 9. Kimberly M. Blaeser, “Writing Voices Speaking: Native Authors and an Oral Aesthetic,” in Talking on the Page: Editing Aboriginal Oral Texts, ed. Laura J. Murray and Keren Rice (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999), 64. 10. Betty Louise Bell, Faces in the Moon (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994), 56 –57. 11. Jolene Rickard, guest curator, and Gabrielle Tayac, Our Lives, nmai, 2004. 12. nmai, Kuna Yala exhibit. 13. Mac Chapin, “Indigenous Land Use Mapping in Central American,” Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Web site, Bulletin 98 : 197–98, December 6, 2004, http://www.yale.edu/environment/publications/bulletin/ 098pdfs/98chapin.pdf. 14. Chapin, “Indigenous Land Use,” 200.448 Archuleta: Gym Shoes, Maps, and Passports, Oh My!
15. Sherene Razack, introduction to Race, Space, and Law: Unmapping aWhite Settler Society, ed. Sherene Razack, (Toronto: Between the Lives, 2002), 5. 16. Chapin, “Indigenous Land Use,” 199. 17. Chapin, “Indigenous Land Use,” 206. 18. The text of Clause 231 can be found on Brazil’s Ministry of ExternalRelations Web site at http://www.mre.gov.br/cdbrasil /itamaraty/web/ingles/polsoc/pindig/legislac/c1988/art231/index.htm?. 19. Rickard, Our Lives, nmai. 20. Yakama Nation Land Enterprise, “Honoring Nations: 2002 Honoree,”The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development Web site,http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/hpaied/hn/hn_2002_land.htm. 21. Carol Craig, Since Time Immemorial, nmai. 22. Lehigh John, Closed Area, nmai. 23. The Haudenosaunee, also known as the Iroquois Confederacy or Six Na-tions, are comprised of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, andTuscarora nations. 24. Information on the Haudenosaunee taken from the Haudenosaunee ofﬁ-cial Web site at http://sixnations.buffnet.net/Great_Law_of_Peace/. 25. “Gustwenta— Two Row Wampum,” Haudenosaunee Web site, http://sixnations.buffnet.net/Lessons_from_History/?article 2. 26. Lauren Berlant, The Anatomy of a National Fantasy (Chicago: Universityof Chicago, 1991), 11. 27. “Honoring Nations: 2002 Honoree: Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse,” TheHarvard Project on American Indian Economic Development Web site,http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/hpaied/hn/hn_2002_lacrosse.htm. 28. Emil Her Many Horses, curator, Our Universes, nmai, 2003. 29. Renato Rosaldo, Culture and Truth (Boston: Beacon Press, 1989), 68 – 87. american indian quarterly / summer & fall 2005 / vol. 29, nos. 3 & 4 449