If some of the Opatas remember, Qui Qui Christina in the past years and on several occasions posted about a Cultural Resources Center from the Smithsonian Institution because she knew based on some online information that they likely host some items from our culture. Well, some Opatas finally manage to coordinate and complete the visit to this Center and I would like to share it with you:
Noragua! A few days ago to be more exact on the morning of October 29th, my brother Steven Rushingwind (Opata-Cahuilla), his wife, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resources Center or NMAI CRC located Suitland, Maryland, in the U.S.A., this second of three facilities comprising the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, is home to the extensive collections and research programs of the museum. Completed in 1998 and opened in 1999, the CRC, provides state-of-the-art resources and facilities for the proper conservation, protection, handling, cataloging, research, and study of the museum’s collections, library holdings, and photo and paper archives.
The CRC is designed to house the museum’s collections in a manner that is sensitive to both tribal and museum requirements for access and preservation. The CRC also serves as a vital resource center for new approaches to the study and presentation of the history and culture of Native peoples. The CRC holds the museum’s curatorial and repatriation offices, as well as a computer and information resource center, library, and areas for the care of the collections. The facility includes laboratories and workrooms for conservation, registration, photography, film, and video, and collections management, and indoor and outdoor spaces for Native traditional care practices and cultural use of the collections.
This visit was particularly requested as soon as the presentation of Steven was confirmed for the Warrior Tradition premiere at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian museum around October 1st and approved a few days later.
And to our surprise, the CRC seems to have easily more than 50 items labeled as Opata based on what we managed to see during our quick visit (a collection report was requested on Nov 1st with the intention to obtain a detailed list of all the items related to the Opatas; Eudeve, Heve, Tegüima, Jova under their protection).
We took some pictures, but unfortunately, in order to protect our Culture from piracy, the drawings and styles of the pottery, baskets, shoes, and hats we will not be published here. This information will be shared only with the Opatas who do still work the pottery and a particular species of palm to create different products.
We also found one of the hats used during our Pascola dance, that almost brought me to tears, since we are currently working on its recovery and the hat surprisingly met the description of the text written about the Opata Pascola dancer by the German father Ignaz Pfefferkorn who lived in the Opateria starting 1756 where he documented a lot of information about us and other Indigenous brothers and sisters in our ancestral lands.
Being that close to so many items of our people and other Indigenous Peoples covered us in a very warm and lovely mix of feelings that we could not better describe but as one of the most memorable ones of our lives.
I hope you do like some of the pictures that we are allowed to show: