A continuing exhibition at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center aims to help pueblo children understand how their parents and grandparents battled U.S. government attempts to take away their land, religion and way of life, a pueblo official said.
The elders’ story of their struggle to remain both Native and American may also inspire their children to be proud and to fight to preserve their own history and culture, said Regis Pecos, a lifetime member of the tribal council of Cochiti Pueblo.
“Our hope is to be able to create that kind of energy that is about, in one sense, a rediscovery, a return, a reaffirmation, a validation … a renaissance,” said Pecos, discussing the exhibit, “100 Years of State and Federal Policy: The Impact on Pueblo Nations.”
Pecos said he hopes the exhibit will inspire a sense of energy and spirit so that “in 100 years from now, the children of the future will honor those people who were able to rise to the challenge for them.”
Officials also hope the exhibit will spur pueblo youth to understand how important their own contributions will be, Pecos said in a video interview on the cultural center’s website.
The exhibit reflects on the last 100 years of pueblo history, presenting major events and milestones tied to federal and state policy and how they made a lasting impact.
Interviews with pueblo members include historical and personal reflections on challenges, often caused by policies and laws intended to change the pueblo way of life, a release said.
For example, one of the biggest potentially catastrophic bills was proposed in 1921 by U.S. Sen. Holm O. Bursum, a Republican senator from New Mexico, who drafted an Indian land bill that might have resulted in the pueblos permanently losing some of their best irrigated land. The bill was defeated.
“The exhibition tells a modern story of resilience and celebrates how the pueblos responded to these challenges using their own core values of love, respect, compassion, faith, balance and service,” Pecos said.
Ron Solimon of Laguna and Zuni pueblos, and president and CEO of the Pueblo Cultural Center, said the exhibit is particularly important as it helps to celebrate New Mexico’s centennial anniversary of statehood.
“It really drives us to look at our core values again and to see from where we came and perhaps to where we need to return,” Solimon said on the video.
The exhibit is one of more than 20 special displays at museums across New Mexico commemorating the state’s 100th birthday. It also will be used to plan and develop a new permanent exhibit at the Cultural Center, to be called “The Pueblo Experience.”
— This article appeared on page 1 of the West Side Journal