In addition to the Museum’s grant funded projects and exhibitions, the Poeh Museum is engaged in helping Pueblo Communities with cultural preservation.
Oral Histories Documentation Projectin 2001 and 2002. The project allowed the Poeh Museum to document stories from Tewa Tribal Members in Northern New Mexico. Tewa traditional belief systems, religion, song and dance are orally transmitted through generations. Tewa elders in New Mexico believed that significant oral histories would be lost if they were not recorded for future generations. Thirty-eight individuals participated in the project and provided stories about their lives..
Most of the interviews and stories were recorded in Tewa (later translated in to English) in hopes that Tewa children would be encouraged to learn their traditional language. An important issue arose during the project; Tewa’s from New Mexico migrated to the Hopi reservation over three hundred years ago. The Poeh Museum Staff traveled to the Hopi reservation and interviewed five Tewa-Hopi’s. During the course of the visit, the connection between the Rio Grande Tewa’s and the Tewa-Hopi’s became obvious. Tewa Clan Leaders then initiated a project to visit the New Mexico Pueblo’s and visit their ancestral sites. The group visited with the Pueblo’s of Pojoaque, San Juan, and Santa Clara. Relationships and friendships were re-established providing long-lasting cultural benefits for all of the Tewa’s.
The Collections Gallery at the Poeh Museum, which opened in August 2002, provides opportunities for study and research by all Tribal Members and the public. The collection, which is comprised of 600 pieces, documents up-coming artists from all Native communities and contains some historical pieces. Students from the Poeh Arts Program are encouraged to work with the collection as a part of their curriculum.
The National Endowment for the Arts Technology Program was a significant learning opportunity for everyone. The Museum’s archival, photographic, and permanent collection are available on-line for use in classrooms, cultural institutions, museums, or the general public for browsing or research. The photographic archive includes documentation of Pueblo Feast Days, dances, architecture, agriculture, and Pojoaque’s economic development. An “on line curriculum” is currently being developed in collaboration with Rena Swentzell from Santa Clara Pueblo. The story and exercise will encourage Native People’s to look at their worldview in a traditional or Pueblo perspective. It will provide the public the opportunity to understand how Pueblo people look at their lives as Native people and how this affects their artwork or material culture.
The Museum’s Permanent Exhibit, Nah Poeh Meng (“Along the Continuous Path”) was formalized and approved by local Tribal Members. The Permanent Exhibit is interpreted by and in the voice of Native people. The exhibit was in the planning process for years to ensure accuracy and participation from Pojoaque and the other local Pueblo’s in New Mexico. The exhibit is in seven different languages – Tewa, Tiwa, Towa, Keresan, Zuni, Spanish, and English. Having the exhibit interpreted in all of the Native languages of New Mexico enhances the overall visitor experience for all of the Tribes in New Mexico, and aids in preserving language and culture.