The exhibit We Are! Arizona’s First People, housed in the Ullman Learning Center, offers visitors the chance to experience the worlds of Arizona’s American Indians and discover what is important to them today. The family-friendly exhibit, a celebration of Arizona’s Native cultures, is the only gallery display in the state to include all 22 of Arizona’s federally recognized tribal communities.
Arizona tribal community members provided valuable insight during the creation of the exhibit. In their own voices, Arizona’s Native cultures explain their histories, cultures and futures to the museum’s visitors.
We Are! Arizona’s First People includes hands-on activities and interactive elements while providing a lesson in Arizona’s Native cultures that isn’t a part of standard school curricula.
During the exhibit’s development, discussions with tribal representatives revealed that despite diverse opinions and different lifestyles, clear issues emerged that every tribe deemed important. These issues include language and passing along traditions to the next generation, the deep ties with the land and how the past links to today, especially history from the 1860s to the present day. Many tribes emphasized how museums and textbooks have ignored the years from approximately 1860 to today, when things changed so radically for Native people.
We Are! explores these issues and show visitors how the lives of Native people in Arizona have changed, especially from the mid-1800s to today. Using maps and other hands-on elements, the exhibit examines how Native cultures have experienced great losses, but also have adapted and triumphed.
Kids will love the hands-on activities, which include crafting a Yavapai burden basket, making a colorful Yaqui paper flower and braiding a Hopi belt. These activities also help kids and families learn more about daily life in tribal communities.
Also included in the exhibit is, “Fear of a Red Planet: Relocation and Removal 2000,” the compelling mural painted by Navajo/Laguna Pueblo artist Steven Yazzie.