Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness is a traveling exhibition that explores the interconnectedness of wellness, illness and cultural life for Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. This past summer, The University of Cincinnati had the opportunity to host the exhibit while collaborating with a series of speakers. Here is an overview of the success of the exhibit and their programming, from Associate Director of Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library & Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions, Lori Harris:
The University of Cincinnati was honored to be selected as one of the host sites for the Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness exhibition. With a planning committee that consisted of faculty from the College of Medicine, Department of Biological Sciences, faculty librarians, archivists and various community partners, our goal was to highlight Native American History and Culture as it related to the Cincinnati Ohio region.
Our inaugural event focused specifically on 3-5 year-old children and was held in the University of Cincinnati’s main library – Langsam Library. We hosted 24 children from the Arlitt Child & Family Research & Education Center, which serves preschool children from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The program included dramatic skits that introduced a brief play about the Iroquois legend of the Three Sisters and its corresponding gardening tradition. There were also activity stations and multi-media fun held in our Student Technology Resource Center (STRC).
Video was taken of children in front of a green screen and was then superimposed onto an image of the Great Plains and an American Indian village complete with moving buffalo. The children never once lost interest and each child was presented with a parting gift of the book entitled: D is for Drum: A Native American Alphabet by Debbie and Michael Shoulders and Irving Toddy. There was an accompanying exhibit of Native American children’s books from the University of Cincinnati’s Children’s Collection.
On Thursday, July 26, Dr. Suzanne Singer launched the Native Voices exhibit opening with a keynote presentation. After introductions by Xuemao Wang, Dean, University of Cincinnati Libraries; Philip Diller, MD/PhD, Chair and Fred Lazarus Jr Endowed Professor of Family and Community Medicine; and Bleuzette Marshall, PhD, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion at UC Dr. Singer, an Energy Systems and Thermal Analyst in the Computational Engineering Division at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, CA was introduced. Her talk focused on the intersections between land, energy, and health in the Navajo community. Attendees were encouraged to visit the exhibit and enjoy some of the catered hors d’oeuvres after Dr. Singer’s talk. In addition to the Native Voices exhibit, a supplementary poster presentation also ran concurrently with the exhibit and was on display alongside the Native Voices listening stations. The posters were a capstone project from a UC Medical Botany class taught by Theresa M. Culley, Ph.D. and Eric Tepe, Ph.D during spring semester, 2018. The posters examined how Native Americans used indigenous plants to maintain health and hygiene throughout the Ohio Valley.
Throughout the 6-week period the University of Cincinnati Libraries hosted keynote speakers that included professors and historians from the University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University; as well as lecturers from the Lloyd Library and Cincinnati Museum Center.
This experience has given the University of Cincinnati an opportunity to broaden current relationships with local universities and colleges as well assisting us in building new partnerships with some of our local and regional community partners who have an interest in the history and relationship of Native Peoples in the Ohio region.