Essay on Walking Into The Antelope Valley Museum

Essay on Walking Into The Antelope Valley Museum

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Walking into the Antelope Valley Museum for the first time was breathtaking. I felt as though I had just walked into the home of a true Native American Indian. I could literally smell the history in the air, it smelled of dust and clay. With my first step through the door, I immediately looked up at the ceiling and noticed the most wonderful decorative paintings. I experienced many different native paintings, handmade artifacts, and spiritual clothing. The walls were covered with information regarding many different tribes and their many artifacts. Outside, I was lucky enough to take part in an annual celebration with Native Peoples of many different tribes and backgrounds. I observed and participated in cultural dances and storytelling by the hosts of the celebration. I especially enjoyed these dances because I had gone to Elementary school with one of the boys performing the Grass Dance, his name is Eagle.
What interested me most of all about this museum, is that many of the artifacts were right there sitting on the table. There were bowls, mortars and pestles sitting on the kitchen table as if they were waiting for the owner of the home to come back any minute and prepare dinner. Typically museums have everything behind glass or in display cases, but this one has them sitting on the table which made it feel like the home of a real person, not just a piece of history. I thought this was especially important because it pushes the idea that people still live this way, rather than seeing Native Peoples as an extinct culture.
The first thing that caught my eye was the beautiful paintings hung on the living room wall. The Navajo Indian paintings dated back to the 1930’s and 1940’s. Two specific paintings stood out to me the most,...


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...respect Cherokee Indians. This disagreement left me feeling extremely uncomfortable and made me further realize just how sensitive the topic of being Native American is. I had never myself experienced any assumptions or stereotypes about Native Americans, and so I almost felt racism didn’t exist. I realize now through this small confrontation and through attending class, that Native American stereotypes and racism is very much alive.
Most importantly, I noticed just how alive Native American culture still is. When I first entered into my anthropology class, I knew it was going to teach the history of the Native Peoples but I had never imagined it would discuss Native Americans today. I believed the Native American culture was extinct and I realize now just how ignorant that idea was. I had never felt more uneducated about a subject through all my years of education.

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