Kingman museum and tribe working together
KINGMAN - A Native American cultural exhibit lacking a key ingredient - a working relationship between the tribe, whose culture is on display, and the museum that exhibits it - can give spectators the impression the culture is either gone or static.
A more active relationship between a tribe and a museum allows for a good demonstration of how tribal culture is alive and fluid, said Peter Bungart, senior archaeologist for the Hualapai Tribe Department of Cultural Resources.
Mohave Museum of History & Arts Director Shannon Rossiter said the relationship fostered over the last year between the museum and the Hualapai Tribe is strong.
"We never had animosity. But we weren't uniting resources before," Rossiter said. "We now have an excellent relationship with the tribe."
Kingman is invited to witness the fruits of that relationship at 10 a.m. Saturday at the museum, 400 W. Beale St. There, the Mohave County Historical Society will return nine Hualapai baskets to the tribe. Some of the baskets - one of which was donated to the museum in the late 1960s - will then be on display at the Hualapai Tribe Cultural Center in Peach Springs, 880 Highway 66.
"It's important the tribe participates because it allows for a more accurate portrayal of (its culture)," Bungart said. It makes it so the tribe can say, "We're still here."
As part of the day, the tribe has set up two displays of Hualapai beadwork, gourd rattles, blankets and other types of arts and crafts. Those two displays, along with the nine baskets, are set up in the museum's original display room for all to see.
Prior to the event's start time, several members of the tribe will perform a ceremony meant to bless the exhibits. The ceremony is not unlike saying grace, Bungart said. It's a way to give thanks for what the creator has provided, he added.
During the event, Rossiter said the room will also be dedicated to Roy Purcell, who developed the original Mohave Museum of History & Arts 44 years ago. The room was the extent of the museum when it was created in the late 1960s. Over the years, however, it's been expanded and remodeled to what it is today.
Purcell, who is known as the museum's first director, is renowned for his Southwestern-themed etchings, drawings, poems, watercolors and books,Rossiter said. He did all of the original dioramas and paintings within the museum and was instrumental in creating the current display, "Footprints in Time," which celebrates Mohave County culture from the past and present.
The two exhibits are not combined, Bungart said, but they do compliment each other.
Purcell lived on the Hualapai reservation for years and is spoke fondly of by people who knew him throughout the community, he said.
"It seemed like a pretty good fit," said Bungart, who also represents the Tribe on the museum's governing board.