Barona’s eighth-graders share Kumeyaay history, art in new Balboa Park exhibit

As eighth-graders from Barona Indian Charter School prepare for the next chapter of their education, they have a new achievement to add to their resume: an art exhibition at the Mingei International Museum.

Through the project, students combined modern elements with the Kumeyaay traditions, history and storytelling they learned during cultural classes at Barona Cultural Center & Museum.

During an unveiling ceremony at Mingei Thursday, each student received a certificate from the supervisor Joel Anderson’s office, whose area includes Barona Detention. As part of the event, Kumeyaay basket maker Eva Salazar from the indigenous community of San Jose de la Zorra in Baja California wove baskets using pine needles at the entrance to the museum.

The Barona eighth graders have spent the last few months creating works of art for an exhibition entitled “Kum ‘Enyaawapch Ewuupch”, which means “The way we see it” in the Kumeyaay language.

Graywolf Alto, who is Kumeyaay, contributed to the exhibition a rattlesnake with chicken wire and papier-m .ché. The painted sculpture is decorated with red, orange and yellow tufts of flame-shaped paper, representing the story of how the Creator – ‘Emaay’ Ehaa – passed on knowledge to the Kumeyaay people.

Not only did he have fun creating his snake sculpture, but Alto said he learned a new respect for his culture.

“I will one day be able to teach my children my culture on Kumeyaay,” said the 13-year-old.

Another student, 14-year-old Reena Lejeck, created two pieces for the exhibition to highlight Kumeyaay’s traditional medicine and knowledge. In the first, he used a sheet of wood, LED lights and paint to depict three Kumeyaay constellations.

For the second, Lejeck used a medicine cabinet to display modern medicine containers filled with traditional, medicinal plants, writing Kumeyaay names for plants such as buckwheat – or leggings – on the bottle. Some of these ingredients are still used in medicine today, both in their traditional forms and as ingredients in medicines.

“The things we use today were also used then and found by natives,” Lejeck said.

The Barona Indian Charter student’s artwork is on display at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

(Sandy Huffaker / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The artwork created by the class is on display in glass niches outside the museum for all to see, and is combined with panels on the history of the tribe along with a bronze plaque embossed in recognition of Kumeyaay land.

Although the museum communicates with local schools, this is the first time it has partnered with a school located in one of San Diego County tribal communities, said Rob Sidner, executive director and managing director of Mingei.

Because the museum is located in the land of Kumeyaay’s ancestors, Sidner said working with the tribe through this exhibition is one way to raise their stories and voices.

“This whole area of ​​Southern California is home to the Kumeyaay people, and yet they have been ignored, forgotten, abused, deprived of their land,” he said. “These are small efforts – and they are being made everywhere – to begin to redress this wrong situation. This is a small effort, but we are happy to be a part of it. “

The idea for the collaboration began when Mingei’s educational and community program specialist Charles Thunyakij first met. Cultural Center & Director of Barona Museum and curator Laurie Egan-Hedley. After hearing her say how Barona Indian Charter School students learn Kumeyaay language, culture and history in a classroom, Thunyakij was inspired to work together and guide students to create an exhibit.

But learning was not a one-way street, Thunyakij said, as he also learned from students during the project.

“From being something like putting two plants in the case, something has happened to the community,” he said. “People should come here with a calm mind and ready to absorb what the Kumeyaay share.”

a close up of a woman's hands with shiny blue nail polish knitting pine needles in a basket

Kumeyaay basket maker Eva Salazar weaves a basket of pine needles at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

(Sandy Huffaker / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Barona tribal council helped edit the information on display, which Egan-Hedley said was a sharp departure from the way museums were designed.

“The problem with museums is that they have always had someone else interpret other cultures,” he said. “Very recently this is starting to change in the museum industry.”

Barona tribal counselor Joseph Yeats, who spoke at the revelation, said he and the tribal council appreciated how this collaboration with the Mingei helps show the public that the Indigenous people are still part of the modern world.

“Going through all these museums here and all over the nation as a child, seeing us refer to the past, has always confused me,” he said. “Being able to contact us at the Mingei International Museum to collaborate and contribute to it and our eighth graders – the youth of our tribe – to be able to really contribute to something is incredible.”

The Kumeyaay exhibition will be on display free of charge outside the Mingei International Museum until July 31, when it will be transferred to the Barona Cultural Center & Museum.

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Barona’s eighth-graders share Kumeyaay history, art in new Balboa Park exhibit Source link Barona’s eighth-graders share Kumeyaay history, art in new Balboa Park exhibit

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