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Director Message 5/27/21

Greetings! I hope you are enjoying this beautiful weather. The Center staff has been busy this past semester working with our students and developing plans for the future. We had sixteen students working at the Center this semester and they were all successful in completing their projects as they worked with the collections and on our newest exhibits! We had several students who graduated, and I want to wish them all the best as they go out to become our new world citizens and community leaders.  

A huge heartfelt thank you to our generous donors who helped to keep the Center’s staff working throughout the pandemic. Your thoughtfulness and generosity enabled several of our students to complete their internship requirements for graduation this year. You also gave us the ability to plan and work towards re-envisioning and re-imagining our mission and the future of the Center of Southwest Studies. I also want to thank community members Richard Ballantine, Henry Hooper, Bev Rich, Jill Seyfarth; Provost Cheryl Nixon; FLC History Professor Michael Martin, FLC student Elise Boulanger; and, staff members Julie Tapley-Booth, Liz Quinn MacMillan and Nik Kendziorski who served on the Center’s Leadership Team throughout this past year and provided valuable advice and insights as we worked on a Sustainable Operating Plan for the Center of Southwest Studies.

There are going to be some changes over the next couple of years, but these will be focused primarily on strengthening the academic side of what we do. We are also looking at new ways to support our Four Corner communities through outreach and engagement. We anxiously await the days when we can welcome you back to the Center for in-person exhibit openings, lectures in the Lyceum, fun events, and behind-the-scenes tours of the collections.      

I am confident that we will be coming out of this pandemic better positioned on the Fort Lewis College campus and stronger than ever! I look forward to seeing you again soon!

With gratitude,

Shelby Tisdale

Wednesday, May 26, 2021/Author: Tapley-Booth, Julie/Number of views (513)/Comments (0)/
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Director Message 3/16/21

from Shelby Tisdale

Message from the Director – March 16, 2021

On this historic occasion I want to congratulate Secretary Deb Haaland, who was confirmed last night as our new leader of the Department of the Interior. She is the first Indigenous cabinet secretary in our history. Her position marks an important step toward inclusive management of ancestral lands, sacred sites, and the public lands that we enjoy.

An impressive woman in her own right, Deb Haaland embodies the determination of the new administration to use the government for all Americans. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico, whose people have lived on this land for 35 generations. The daughter of two military veterans, she is a single mother who earned a law degree with a young child to care for. She was a tribal leader focused on environmentally responsible economic development in Laguna before she became a Democratic leader and was elected to Congress in 2018.  

Secretary Haaland is heading a department that, in the nineteenth century, abandoned Indigenous peoples for political leverage. Established in 1849 to pull together federal offices that dealt with matters significant to domestic policy, the Department of the Interior took over control of Indian Affairs and public lands. The historical record of Indigenous genocide and corruption regarding the forced removal of Indigenous peoples to reservations and the greed that has led to the overexploitation of natural resources on public lands in the United States have left a tragic record. Haaland understands the struggles of Indigenous peoples and ordinary Americans and wants “to responsibly manage our natural resources to protect them for future generations—so that we can continue to work, live, hunt, fish, and pray among them.” Shortly after she was nominated by President Joe Biden she tweeted, “A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of the Interior. I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land.”  

We wish Secretary Haaland all the best in her new post.

Shelby J. Tisdale, Director

I acknowledge that the land where Fort Lewis College sits is the ancestral lands and territories of Nuchu (Ute), Apache, the Pueblos, Hopi, Zuni, and the Diné Nation.

Center of Southwest Studies, Fort Lewis College

Wednesday, March 17, 2021/Author: Tapley-Booth, Julie/Number of views (1166)/Comments (0)/
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CSWS Former Student Intern Alumni "Where Are They Now?"

A fun chat to catch up with former students

On February 17, 2021 Center staff had the pleasure of sitting down to catch up with former Center student interns. Many sent in a short videos to share where they are now, and how the Center influenced their pathways.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021/Author: Tapley-Booth, Julie/Number of views (1825)/Comments (0)/
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Director's Message 2/14/21

from Shelby Tisdale

Happy Valentine’s Day! I am reminded that this is the time of year I would be heading out to Arizona for the annual Hopi Powamu Ceremony, commonly referred to as the Bean Dance. The first time I attended this ceremony was in 1988 and I had never experienced anything like it. I had met a young Hopi woman at the Sacred Materials Conference held at the Buffalo Bill Historical Society in the fall of 1985. I was there to present a paper on the repatriation of sacred materials stored in museums. My friend was there representing the Hopi museum on Second Mesa. We have been dear friends since and through her friendship I have learned so much about Hopi cultural traditions and been able to participate beyond being a tourist. Throughout the years I have received gifts from both my friend and her parents that I will cherish forever.

But, back to the Powamu Ceremony. The Hopi ceremonial cycle is an annual cycle that consists of two major periods, that of the masked and that of the unmasked ceremonies. The masked dancers, called katsinas, arrive in January or February, depending on the calendar and the village. The first great ceremony of the year is the Powamu, when children are initiated into the katsina and Powamu societies. The Powamu is held in February in Hotevilla where my friend lives. The masked katsinas visit different houses where they scold children who have not been behaving. They also symbolically open the kivas (ceremonial chambers) where beans and maize are ritually planted to assure good harvests and to demonstrate the “Good Heart” of the participants. Small boys and girls are who are to be initiated are ritually whipped with yucca leaves as the katsinas move about the village. Innocent bystanders and tourists might also be whipped. The young initiates are taken to the kiva where they attend a performance of unmasked dancers and learn that the katsinas are their relatives and other villagers. The last night of the ceremony is the most important for the young initiates because they attend the all- night dances that take place in the kivas.

I was very fortunate to be able to attend these night dances with my friend and to sit at the front of the kiva where the katsinas dance. There are a number of different kivas in the village and the one I was in was in is a square shape surrounded by a short adobe bench along the wall where we sat. The masked dancers came down a ladder from the rooftop to the center of this area and then danced around this part of the kiva. As I sat there, I could see them coming down the ladder and the first group included about twenty Angak’china (Long Hair) Katsinas. As they danced around this part of the kiva singing in a low voice, I could feel the fringe on their sashes move rhythmically across my lap as each one danced by. This group would leave and there would be a break before the next group of dancers arrived from another kiva.

At dawn we left the kiva and went back to my friend’s parent’s house where we slept for a couple of hours.  After a brief nap we got up and went to work making a special blue corn bread that was baked in a pit in the back of the house and preparing the bean sprout stew. After a lovely lunch with my friend’s family I headed back to Taos, New Mexico, where I was living at the time. My heart was filled with fond memories of one of the most powerful experiences of my life. This particular year there were no initiates, but I have been fortunate to attend when some of the young people in the village were being initiated. I look forward to when I can visit Hopi again. I learn something new every time.

Wising you all a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Shelby J Tisdale

Sunday, February 14, 2021/Author: Tapley-Booth, Julie/Number of views (1469)/Comments (0)/
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Director Message 2/4/21

Director Message 2/4/21

from Shelby Tisdale

Greetings! I hope this finds you well as we continue to work our way through this pandemic. We welcomed our students back to Fort Lewis College for in person classes this week. It is exciting to see so much activity on campus again after a couple of months of silence. It is wonderful seeing our students and hearing the hustle and bustle as they move through the Center’s hallways between classes. There is something about listening to the experiences of these young adults as they discover new ways of thinking that keep us all young at heart. This is one of the reasons that I came to direct the Center of Southwest Studies five years go. Nothing thrills me more than to sit with a student who has questions about working in a museum as they think about their future career options.

This spring we have fifteen FLC students working at the Center of Southwest Studies. Nine students working in the museum side of the Center and six in the archives and library. Some of the students are work study employees while others have internships. There are two types of internships. The academic internships are offered through the department of the student’s major where the Center’s staff work with their faculty adviser to provide a full experiential hands-on training program. This enables these students to fulfill one of their course requirements for graduation.  The Center also offers paid internships for our FLC students. Both types of internships go beyond learning about collections, research and exhibits. Students also learn about time and project management, teamwork, and other work skills that prepare them for life after graduation.

The internships we offer at the Center are unique for an undergraduate institution such as Fort Lewis College. We offer these paid internships through the generosity of so many of our special friends of the Center. The Greg and Karen Bell Internship goes to a different student each semester. The San Juan Basin Archaeological Society provides funding for the John Sanders Internship in Archaeology, where a student works with the archaeological collections. The other internships are paid for through the generous donations from so many of you. The Center and the students deeply appreciate your generous support and the opportunities you provide to the next generation of leaders and global citizens. 

In addition to your support of our student interns many of you renewed your memberships or gave to the general fund during this challenging year. Your ongoing support is especially meaningful during a time when we have not been able to provide in person lectures and events. Unlike some of our sister centers and museums that have been forced to close we have been able to stay open for limited services during the pandemic. We were able to open the PIVOT exhibit to small groups and families by appointment last fall. We were able to do this despite budget cuts and the changing stay at home or safe at home orders and so on. We hope to be able to do the same at some point this spring. We are exploring the possibility of holding some outdoor programming this summer once it is safe to do so. We will keep you posted. In the meantime, we do have some exciting virtual programming coming up this spring. I hope you can join us.

You and your generous support have made this all possible and we thank you for all that you do for the Center of Southwest Studies. We look forward to seeing you again soon!   

Thank you!

Shelby J Tisdale

Thursday, February 4, 2021/Author: Tapley-Booth, Julie/Number of views (1397)/Comments (0)/
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