March 08, 2010

A Trip to Japan…

A few months ago, we posted about a first-ever cultural exchange in Seattle with the indigenous people of Japan, known as the Ainu. Just last year, the Ainu were formally recognized by Japan’s government as Japan’s “first peoples,” and in December 2009, a group of Ainu delegates visited Washington State for the first part of their cultural exchange with several Native communities in this region.

This Friday, Burke Museum curators Deana Dartt-Newton and Robin Wright, will hop on a plane to Hokkaido, Japan with a special delegation of Puget Sound area Native Americans and the UW’s Native Voices film crew to visit the Ainu on their own turf for the second part of this exchange.

The group of 11 will tour Hokkaido’s outlying cultural museums, exchange information about traditional salmon, cedar, and whaling life ways of the Ainu, and explore Ainu cultural revival. The US delegation returns home on March 20, 2010.

On her way out the door, project director, Deana Dartt-Newton commented that, “We are anticipating the rich dialogue that started in December to deepen as we see firsthand the ways Ainu culture has survived and now experiences a resurgence, so similar to the experiences of Northwest Tribal cultures. My work, which looks at ways that museums define Native identity, will be enhanced by a look at historic Ainu representations and how those have changed over time. We are all very excited!”
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.

Check back for photos from Japan on our Facebook page.
Posted by: MaryAnn Barron Wagner, Communications