MIAMI — The Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center in Miami has been awarded the International Guardians of Culture and Lifeways’ 2019 “Outstanding Project” Award for the tribe’s pottery project and exhibit, From Ancient Hands: Stories in Fire and Clay, the Association of Tribal Libraries, Archives and Museums (ATALM) has announced.
The award will be presented at the ATALM conference in Temecula, California, on Oct. 9.
“The Shawnee Tribe's Pottery Project is an exemplary effort to reawaken an ancient art,” said director Marnie Leist. “The tribe worked with culture bearers, artists, and scientists to replicate and conduct scientific studies of ancestral ceramics. In partnership with over 20 contributors, the cultural center created an exhibit and educational resources to share their experience. This project is a great model for other communities seeking to deepen the exploration of cultural traditions.”
The pottery project participants spent years experimenting with clay, temper, construction techniques and firing methods, according to Second Chief Ben Barnes.
“We formulated new hypotheses about how pots were made, challenging long-held assertions by non-tribal researchers,” Barnes said. “We had the pottery we made from our studies, but the exhibit was pulled together by our director, Marnie Leist, who curated and designed it and collaborated with the community.”
Barnes said loans were received from the Ohio History Connection, the Webb Museum of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky and the University of Missouri Research Reactor Center, which allows tribal citizens to see these ancestral pieces.
Visitors are encouraged to learn by interacting while visiting the STEAM-based exhibit. There is a guilloche drawing activity to help visitors learn the art of Fort Ancient pottery, and visitors can incise their own design on scratch paper and share it in the exhibit space or take it with them.
Exploring the science of pottery, participants can use an easy-view microscope to compare pottery from around the world and complete a material science exercise.
Since pots were often used for cooking, visitors can take or leave traditional recipes for food that might be cooked in a pot.
Short videos about the life cycle of mussel shells and corn enhance the display.
A children’s activity book, tours offered by members of the Kids Committee, a website presentation, a mobile exhibit and two publicly available education boxes round out the exhibit resources.
Participants can play the Neosho Mucket board game to learn about the endangered state of freshwater mussels in the Science of Pottery box.
The Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center is located at 19 N. Eight Tribes Trail in Miami. For more information, call 918-544-6722 or log onto www.shawneeculture.org.