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October 22, 2013
Cultural Exchange between the Suquamish Tribe and El Nido, Palawan, Philippines focuses on cultural heritage, and sustainable fishing and archaeology
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Seattle – On October 24, six Cuyonon people will step foot in the United States for the first time.
These residents from El Nido, Palawan, Philippines will be in the Seattle area, visiting the Burke Museum, the Suquamish Museum, and a variety of cultural and environmental landmarks, as participants in the Burke Museum's new “Ancient Shores, Changing Tides” project which is connecting members of the Suquamish Tribe with members of the Cuyonon ethnolinguistic group. “Ancient Shores, Changing Tides” is part of the Museums Connectsm program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that is administered by the American Alliance of Museums.
The highlights of the Cuyonon delegation's October visit include tours of the Burke Museum and Suquamish Museum, a visit to Chief Seattle’s grave site, visits to archaeological sites on the Olympic Peninsula, and a fishing trip with members of the Suquamish Tribe. The journey will culminate in a traditional foods feast, where artifacts from the Old Man House collection, which has been held in trust at the Burke Museum, will be transferred to the Suquamish Museum.
“Old Man House was home to Chief Sealth (Chief Seattle) and Chief Kitsap. With our new museum, we are thrilled to see these important pieces back in Suquamish, and it's very exciting that our guests from the Philippines will be here to witness and share in this moment,” Lydia Sigo, Archivist/Curator for the Suquamish Museum, said.
“Ancient Shores, Changing Tides” is one of ten Museums Connectsm programs being run by museums throughout the country this year. The mission of the Museums Connect program is to strengthen connections and understanding between people in the United States and abroad through innovative, museum-based exchanges that address critical needs or timely issues in museums’ local communities and help museums better serve the public.
In the case of “Ancient Shores, Changing Tides,” residents of El Nido and Suquamish will be exploring their archaeological pasts, with a focus on practices related to fishing, gathering, and herbal medicine. They will participate in a series of skills-building workshops on tourism management and exhibit design.
Suquamish, Washington and El Nido, Palawan, in the Philippines, are both shoreline communities that share a deep history of harvesting from the sea. In both communities, the primary source of income has been shifting away from natural resource extraction and toward tourism. By facilitating this project, the Burke Museum will encourage stewardship of both areas’ fragile natural and cultural resources and equip heritage advocates at the local level with the expertise to steer tourism development in a sustainable direction.
Following the October 2013 Cuyonon delegation visit to Washington State, the Suquamish delegates are set to travel to the Philippines in January 2014. By the end of the exchange in summer 2014, each community will have created an exhibit that will enhance their community’s tourist appeal.
In addition to the international visits, residents of Suquamish and El Nido will connect with each other through mailed packages, Skype calls, and social media. Anyone around the world can follow their blog—http://ancientshoreschangingtides.wordpress.com.
“Ancient Shores, Changing Tides’ is a perfect example of the impact of Museums Connect,” said AAM president Ford W. Bell. “This project spans cultures, uniting these young people in an atmosphere of collaboration and friendship as they share histories, environmental concerns and the challenges they confront daily. The result will likely be an expanded vision of the world and their place in it, as well as a profound understanding of each other.”
Images: (Top) Members of the Sibaltan Heritage Council gathered to sing traditional Cuyonon songs, El Nido, Palawan. Photo by Wade Trenbeath. (Bottom) The Suquamish Museum presents a cultural view of the Suquamish tribe over time. Tribal members will be participating in a year-long exchange project encouraging sustainable cultural tourism. Photo courtesy of the Suquamish Museum.
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About Museums Connect: Museums Connectsm is made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by the American Alliance of Museums.
Ancient Shores, Changing Tides, a Museums Connect sm project, is funded [in part] by a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by the American Alliance of Museums. The opinions, findings, and conclusions stated herein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.
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Background on the Museums Participating in the “Ancient Shores, Changing Tides” Museums Connectsm Project:
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
The Burke Museum is the premiere museum of natural history and cultural heritage in the Pacific Northwest. The museum is responsible for Washington State collections of natural and cultural heritage and sharing the knowledge that makes these objects meaningful. Located on the University of Washington campus, the Burke serves its community with collections, research, exhibitions, and educational programs in three scientific divisions: anthropology, biology, and geology. The Burke holds nationally ranked collections in each of these divisions and is particularly well known for Northwest Coast and Alaskan Native art, holding the country’s fifth largest such collection. The Burke is a leader in developing collaborative exhibits and programs with partner communities throughout the Pacific.
Palawan State University Museum
The mission of the Palawan State University Museum is to preserve, protect and disseminate Palawanʼs heritage. More than 2,000 ethnographic and archaeological materials are held in the museumʼs collection, with display areas showcasing Palawanʼs flora and fauna. Located on the Palawan State University campus, students use this museum for their museum appreciation and cultural resource management classes, while Puerto Princessa City residents take part in public activities including the Indigenous People Month exhibition, music and dances, an archaeology week celebration, and lectures on Palawan culture.
A new museum facility, completed in 2012, houses the Suquamish Museum and Cultural Center just up the hill from the Old-Man-House village site. Set in a natural landscape of native plants, the space reflects the traditional Big House architecture of the Coast Salish. This Silver LEED building houses the Suquamish Tribes collections of artifacts, photographs and manuscripts. The public areas offer permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, research space, education rooms, and a museum store.
Balay Cuyonon [the House of Cuyonon Culture]
Located in Sibaltan, El Nido, Palawan, the Balay Cuyonon is a place where curiosity about the past is cultivated in order to build a better future. The Balay Cuyonon is traditionally-built bamboo structure with a thatch roof made of Nipa palm filled with all the items that one might find in a Cuyonon home at the turn of the 20th century.
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