Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Tamastslikt Cultural Institute

The first Friday of every month is free open admission at the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, just an exit off I-84, East of Pendleton, on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. I decided to go with the kids as soon as school was out last Friday to take advantage of this.

What an incredible place this is! The word "Tamastslikt", means "interpreter". In the 90 minutes or so that we spent there we learned so much about the native people of this region and their rich history. The museum is arranged in a circular path inside a large round part of the building, that tells the tale of the native people from 10,000 years ago, up until the present and future. It is beautifully done, and is a sensual treat to hear and see. There are no photos allowed to be taken, so you'll just have to come see it for yourself. It's an attraction here that should not be missed!

The kids were impressed by the speakers hidden throughout the museum that had recorded oral history stories from native people. There was also a lot of beautiful sounds of nature throughout the exhibits. Being the seamstress that I am, I was really impressed at the amazing robes and intricate beaded clothing and attire that were displayed throughout the museum, as well as some of the basketry weaving.

All of us were stunned at the brutality of much of the historical treatment of the native people as settlers came to their land. As a mother, the pictures and stories of their children being sent off to boarding schools was particularly disturbing. Seeing the exhibits and hearing the stories was a valuable lesson learned for all of us, and gave us new respect and concern for not only the native people of this area and other areas, but a renewed respect for how to treat and protect the land so that it protects us. Despite our collective histories, the story that continues is one of hope and co-operation.

The museum has an additional space for temporary exhibits as well as events and meeting held throughout the year. With such an incredible resource so close, I know I'll be returning soon!


Laura Martone said...

I love ethnic museums like this - I'm especially partial to Native American exhibits. In fact, those are some of my favorites at the Field Museum in Chicago. Thanks for sharing!

Becky said...

You're welcome. It's a wonderful place. I think they have outdoor exhibits in the summer. Can't wait to go back!