Members of the Choctaw nation packed up and traveled over 13-hundred miles to our nations capitol. The Choctaws are the first Oklahoma tribe to be featured at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. Rita Kotey traveled with the tribe and brings us more.
For four days the sights and sounds of the Choctaw nation permeated the walls of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. From weaponry, to pottery , and their elegant regalia the tribe is showcasing all that they are to let the world know that their culture is still alive and well.
"One of the problems that we have as Indian people is that the world at large still thinks of us as creatures of the past. That Indians are gone, it's very sad but they are gone now. And there is no better proof that these are live thriving cultures than to have Indian people from Indian county come here and show just how well they are doing," Museum director Kevin Gover said.
He says learning the history of American Indian life from a book can be beneficial. But seeing the culture live, breathe and move in front of you makes it all more real.
"If we just had the museum staff out here talking to people and saying yes there are real Indians, they don't believe us. But when they see Indian people here doing Indian things in a contemporary way, it sends a very powerful message to our audience and that's what we are trying to accomplish," Gover said.
Gover says after visiting tribes across the country the Choctaw Nation was the first to agree travel to the museum. Their enthusiasm and willingness to teach others confirmed that now was the time to take action. Being invited to showcase their culture is an honor that Choctaw Nation Chief Greg Pyle holds dear.
" This just makes us ecstatic. It is something that we never really dreamed when they first built this wonderful facility. And its right here in the most prominent place in Washington dc right under the shadow of the capitol," Chief Pyle said.
Nearly 15 hundred visitors daily where on hand to make jewelry, weave baskets and try their hand at playing the flute. Miss Senior Choctaw Nation Kristie McGuire's goal is to help people understand the importance of Choctaw life and the key role they play in our nation's history.
" I am excited that I can come and learn new things and meet new people and be able to teach different people who have never experienced anything like this before, " McGuire said.
Chief Pyle says he doesn't want this experience to be limited to his tribe. Because there are other tribes across the country with powerful stories to tell and a rich history to share with all those who will listen.
" I hope in the future that they will have this for other tribes to come up. We hope they continue this. It's been just a wonderful experience. Not only for our youth to come up here and for our adults that put this on. But for the citizens that come to visit," Pyle said.
Tune in Wednesday July 13 at 10 for part 2 and Friday July 15th at 10 for part 3 of this series.