The exhibit “Through the Eyes of our Youth … From One Generation to Another” opened in April 2017 at the Ak-Chin Indian Community Him-Dak Eco-Museum & Archives. Exhibit displays represent input from many Ak-Chin Indian Community members.
Museum staff gathered insight from community members on how the Ak-Chin Indian Community culture has changed over the years, what life was like for elders when they were younger, and how technology has changed the culture. Through this process, young people indicated that they wanted to learn more about what life was like for the elders when they were growing up.
Exhibit displays include old high school annuals and memorabilia, examples of traditional dress, now-unfamiliar tools like wooden telephones and typewriters, and handmade items created by weaving, painting, or basketry.
The exhibit also depicts changes in education among youth from the Ak-Chin Indian Community. Historically, young community members left their families to attend boarding schools run by the federal government or by Catholic missions. In the 1960s, a group of Community youths went to boarding schools, while others attended public school. Today, the majority of Ak-Chin students go to nearby public schools. The exhibit displays information about these schools and items made by students at different boarding schools. Another facet of the exhibit depicts how technology has changed the culture. Community members used to travel for miles to gather food and water and prepare crops. Items on display include some of the tools they used. The language portion of the exhibit contains information from tribal elders to help youths learn the O’odham language.
Through the exhibit, the museum staff hopes to keep alive the many stories, which are the history of the Community, that are still present among today’s elders and young adults. Keeping those stories circulating is the key to helping the culture survive.
Another piece of the Ak-Chin Community culture, the St. Francis of Assisi Mission School, is located adjacent to the museum. Architect Arthur Stables with BWS Architects renovated the mission building with oversight from a team of Ak-Chin Community elders. This project was recognized as one of 10 recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Awards after submission by Stables. Three Community Elders and staff from the Him Dak Museum received the award.
Located on the Ak-Chin reservation, near Maricopa, the Ak-Chin Him-Dak EcoMuseum was established to collect and preserve aspects of the Ak-Chin Indian Community culture among the different generations. For more information about the museum or this exhibit, call 520-568-1350.
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