Inside the Peabody Museum: November 2013

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Remembering Veterans: On Drinking Beer in Vietnam

Dancing Chickens and More at Day of the Dead Family Event

Companion Exhibition to Open: Thoreau's Maine Woods

Coming up at the Peabody

Remembering Veterans: On Drinking Beer in Vietnam

drinking beer in vietnam by T C Cannon

On Drinking Beer in Vietnam
T. C. Cannon, 1971

As a group, American Indians have an extremely high rate of service in the U.S. armed forces. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe discuss aspects of this contemporary warrior culture in several of the videos in the exhibition Wiyohpiyata: Lakota Images of the Contested West. In a video that was shot inside a room at the tribal headquarters dedicated to displaying photographs of veterans, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard discusses the significance of Veteran’s Day on the reservation. According to Brave Bull, tribal members spend the entire day commemorating their war heroes. At dusk they drive in procession through the local cemeteries, where families stop to pray and leave mementos on the graves of relatives who served in U.S. conflicts dating back to World War One.

Veteran’s Day is also observed by Plains Indians in Anadarko, Oklahoma, the burial site of artist T.C. Cannon (1946-1978), who was of Kiowa and Ponca descent. When Cannon died in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the age of thirty-one, he was already recognized as one of the most innovative and influential Indian artists of the twentieth century. In this self-portrait, which is also on view in the Wiyohpiyata gallery, Cannon depicted himself (on the left) drinking beer in a Vietnamese bar alongside his friend Kirby Feathers. Cannon served with the U.S. 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam between 1967-1969, and received two bronze stars. But as a baby boomer, Cannon had mixed feelings about the Vietnam conflict and the growing technological capacity of industrial warfare. He expressed his misgivings by drawing a nuclear cloud looming outside the window, a symbol of potential ruin that appears in many of his works.

Soon after his discharge, both Cannon and his father Walter, a veteran of World War Two, were invited to join the elite Black Leggings Society, a Kiowa fraternity of military veterans modeled on a pre-reservation war society. The society meets annually to coincide with Veteran’s Day, when members spend several days performing dances and songs that have been passed down for many generations. They are also known for their unique “Battle tipi” covered with pictographs that record specific battles in tribal history. In 2008, several Kiowa artists renewed the tipi by adding scenes and the names of tribal members killed in combat during recent conflicts, including the war in Iraq.

--Castle McLaughlin, Museum Curator of North American Ethnography and co-curator of Wiyopiyata: Lakota Images of the Contested West.

Dancing Chickens and More at Day of the Dead Family Event

Image of Carved Dancing Chickens

Dancing Chickens by Oaxacan woodcarver Ventura Fabian. He will be in the galleries demonstrating his remarkable skills during the Day of the Dead Family event.

From authentic Oaxacan woodcarving demonstrations to live music, dress-up crafts, and the ever-popular Sugar Skull-decorating workshops, the Peabody Museum Day of the Dead Family Event will be bursting with activities on Saturday, November 2 from 12:00 to 4:00 pm.

Master woodcarver Ventura Fabian will be in the galleries, creating his remarkable folk art, while Cambridge artist Maura Mendoza and her band play Latin American rhythms and invite visitors to join in the music. As colorful cut paper banners (papel picado) flutter overhead, families can create their papel picado own designs. Palm-sized sugar skulls will await young artists' decorations with craft items and icing in eye-popping shades of hot pink, bright yellow, and turquoise. And all may enjoy spicy Aztec chocolate and pan de muerto (Day of the Dead bread) snacks while they last.

The Family Event is free with Museum admission. Sugar Skull workshops are $5 extra per skull, with the last seating at 3:30 pm. 

Day of the Dead Fiesta

Later the same day, the museum celebrates with a Day of the Dead Fiesta from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. Fiesta guests are invited to bring an image of departed loved one for placement on the special one-night-only Día de los Muertos "Friends and Family" altar and share a story about him or her with other Fiesta guests. 

Tickets for the Fiesta are limited, and are on sale for $10 each online while they last.* Tickets are free for Harvard Museums of Science & Culture members, including Peabody Museum members.

*Get in to the Fiesta without a ticket: Be one of the first 20 people to come dressed as a Catrina or Catrin (elegant skeleton) or wear traditional “sugar skull” or Day of the Dead-style makeup.

Companion Exhibition to Open: Thoreau's Maine Woods

 West Branch of the Penobscot River by Scot Miller

West Branch of the Penobscot River by Scot Miller.

Thoreau's Maine Woods: A Journey in Photographs with Scot Miller

Opening November 16, 2013

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Henry David Thoreau’s The Maine Woods, this upcoming Harvard Museum of Natural History exhibition features the stunning photographs of Scot Miller, who has traversed the state of Maine for years, retracing the footsteps of Thoreau, New England’s native son. Thoreau’s Maine Woods: A Journey in Photographs with Scot Miller highlights the many places that Thoreau explored and wrote about using finely-crafted photographs, as well as historical information, a Penobscot Indian-made snowshoe owned by Thoreau, and stunning specimens from Harvard’s collections, including one-of-a-kind plant samples collected in northern Maine by Thoreau himself. The exhibition complements the ongoing Harvard Museum of Natural History exhibition, New England Forests in the Zofnass Family Gallery, and will run through September 1, 2014.

In The Maine Woods, Thoreau wrote vividly about his river journey, during which his Penobscot guide paid him the high compliment of conferring on him an Indian name that meant “great paddler.” The Thoreau's Maine Woods exhibition is related to the upcoming Peabody Museum exhibition, The Legacy of Penobscot Canoes: A View from the River, opening in April 2014. Centered around the tradition of canoe-making and a late 19th-century birch bark canoe from the collections of the Peabody Museum, this new exhibition will explore tribal history of the Penobscot people and their ongoing relationship with the river and woodlands of Maine.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology and the Harvard Museum of Natural History are both members of the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture consortium.



Did you miss any lectures? You can listen to them here or download them to your mobile device through iTunes U. Look for Harvard's Peabody Museum lectures.

Saturday, November 2

12:00–4:00 pm

Special Event

Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead Family Event

Saturday, November 2

6:00–8:30 pm

Special Event

Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead Fiesta

Free tickets available for Harvard Museums of Science and Culture members (including Peabody Museum members) on October 15; tickets for non-members available on October 22

Jointly sponsored by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard University, the Consulate General of Mexico, Heineken, Nomad, Scorpion Mezcal, and Taza Chocolate. Restaurant sponsors: the Mexican Restaurant Association, Olé Restaurant Group, Acitrón Cocina Mexicana, Viva Mexican Grill & Tequileria, and El Huipil Mexican Restaurant  

Tuesday, November 12 6:00 pm

Panel Discussion and Reception

"Food, Biodiversity, and Climate Change"

Jade D'alpoim Guedes, Harvard Anthropology Ph.D. '13,  Eli Rogosa, Director of the Heritage Grain Conservancy, and Richard Meadow, Director of the Zooarchaeology Lab at the Peabody Museum

Wednesday, December 4

6:00 pm

Public Lecture, Book Signing, and Reception

"Riders on the Storm: War Horses in Lakota Ledger Art"
Castle McLaughlin, Museum Curator of North American Ethnography, Peabody Museum