Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Meetings at the Smoki

These pictures were taken at a recent meeting of the local archeology society. Appropriately enough, the venue was the stone building auxiliary to the actual Smoki Museum of American Indian Art and Culture. According to the Smoki web site, designed to resemble an Indian pueblo, the Smoki Museum was built in 1935 of native stone and wood. It was constructed with labor provided by the Civilian Works Administration and the Smoki People.The Smoki People were a group of Prescott citizens organized in 1921 and dedicated to the perpetuation of American Indian ceremonies and dances. As late as 1990, the Smoki People held annual pageants at the Yavapai County Fairgrounds.

The meeting structure housed local Indian artifacts collected by the Smoki for a number of years before the current museum was built (you can find an exterior picture here ). Presumably it was built by members of the Smoki People, whose most famous member was Sen. Barry Goldwater. Today, the building is a popular place for gatherings of various civic organizations. Below, some views of the interior. Note: I have no pictures of the actual museum; photography was a no-no the time I visited it with a camera.

The lectern repeats the Smoki logo; the panel below IDs the location of the ladies' loo...

...while this group faces one as she leaves the actual facility. Certainly a reminder of what could happen to people who leave messes behind! And, no, I don't have the equivalent from the Men's.

The painting of the kachina (or katsina, the term used by many) hangs on a wall in the big room. The very local Prescott tradition of the Smoki came to an end with the many changes taking place in American society; in August, 1990, the Hopi and their supporters picketed in Downtown and at the Rodeo grounds outside the 70th Annual Smoki Ceremonial performance. They held signs that read "Preserve your own culture" and "Hopi religion not for sale." They talked peacefully with passers-by and people heading to see the show, says the museum site. That was the last year of ceremonies. Since that time, the museum has been operated by a non-profit organization. The Sharlot Hall Museum site tells the story of the Smoki briefly and lists most of the holdings as of the 90s.

10 comments:

TomboCheck said...

The Smoki folks sure seem to get some bad rap in my opinion. A lot of people seem to be under the impression that all the white guys were poking fun at the Indian culture, but after talking to a few of them, they really were very interested in the ceremonies, and wanted to keep them alive (as you said).

Good post granny.

sheoflittlebrain said...

Another nteresting post, GJ. I always thought the Smoki people demonstrated a good deal of grace in letting go of their ceremonies when the right time had come.
They didn't disagree with the Hopi's rights to their own ceremonies, or try claim any grandfathered rights of their own.. They just quit.

A.Decker said...

So, let me get this straight. A bunch of 'white' folks formed a group to preserve 'Indian' stuff, the Hopi's come along and put an end to this group and their ways.(?) Sounds like poetic retribution to me. Maybe justice, too, 'cause they deserve to own their own culture, but it sounds like they could have worked with the Smoki, might have helped the Hopi out as well.
Are the Hopi's keeping it alive like the Smoki's did?

Granny J said...

tombo -- I have heard, via various grapevines, that the Smoki actually did keep a couple of dances alive that had been lost. Don't know how true this is...

brain -- A piece of me suspects that the Smoki were a very local version of the many old lodge groups (Elks, IOOF, etc.) that were losing vigor during the same time frame.

AD -- The white-man group existed for over 60 years before the big protest, though I understand that there were quieter protestations over the years. BTW, a rather controversial documentary was made about the Smoki. I do think it's all too easy for us modern thinkers to side entirely with the Hopi and forget that a long local tradition that helped anchor a small community was uprooted in the process. A long-time establishment was beset on the one side by PC-think and on the other by growth, development and big box retailer competition. The center did not hold.

smilnsigh said...

But you did get some great shots, here.

Is it still the idea that flash may damage something, in a museum? Suppose so.

Mari-Nanci

Granny J said...

SnS -- that was what the nice volunteer lady said. I should have challenged her by saying that I planned to use existing light...

worldphotos2 said...

Usually they want to sell their own photos or books when they don't allow a camera to be used. At least places here in Germany.

Granny J said...

steve -- that has a familiar ring to it! I think the idea is stupid, but obviously I comment out of self-interest! (Just like the museums in question...)

Lucy said...

I wonder if a group will one day be set up to preserve the ancestral and traditions of mid-twentieth century groups like the Smoki, which will inturn have become vanished culture!

Granny J said...

A lovely thought, Lucy!

 
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