December 15, 2009

Ainu delegates visit Burke for cultural exchange

This week, the Burke Museum welcomed a delegation of 10 members of the Ainu Association of Hokkaido for the first of three visits between Japan and the Pacific Northwest that will take place over the next 9 months as part of an exciting project called “Carrying Traditions Across the Waters of Time: Ainu and Pacific Northwest Cultural Collaborations.”

The central focus of this cultural exchange project is the shared efforts between indigenous people in Japan and the Pacific Northwest to revive ancient relationships to the sea and the canoe. The participants include members of the Suquamish, Duwamish, Tulalip, Makah, and Squaxin Island tribes of Washington State and the Hokkaido Ainu Association of Japan. Together, the participants will share cultural knowledge, broaden public awareness of environmental and social issues faced globally by Native peoples, and gain insight into museum practices in a tribal or inter-tribal setting.

This week’s visit by the Ainu delegation, whose 10 members range in age from 19 to 70 years old, marks the first time all of the participants in this cultural exchange have meet one another. The Ainu delegation will spend the week visiting tribal museums and cultural centers of the 5 partnering tribes from Washington. In March 2010, a group of representatives from the Pacific Northwest will travel to Japan to make similar visits to Ainu museums and cultural centers. Then, in July 2010, the Ainu delegation will return to Washington to participate in an annual tribal canoe journey, hosted by the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay.

Over the next 9 months, the Burke Blog will record the progress of the Ainu and Pacific Northwest Cultural Collaboration, but for the most current updates, follow the project on Facebook.

This exchange has been funded by Museums & Communities Collaboration Abroad (MCCA), which is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State in partnership with the American Association of Museums.

Photos: Visiting delegates from the Ainu Association of Hokkaido visited the Burke Museum on Monday morning for a welcome breakfast and a tour of the museum.