Monday, Jun 20, 2011
“Where in the world is Tuzigoot?” is a question contained in some NPS training materials developed for teachers, but on Friday, June 3rd, local historians and community members gathered for remembrances of their own special site as the refurbished historic Tuzigoot National Monument Visitor Center and Museum was reopened to visitors.
Superintendent Kathy Davis presented heritage awards to individuals and organizations recognized for making substantial contributions to local cultural and historic preservation. One component of the observance was citing those who initiated and have continued Native language preservation programs. The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe, based in Prescott, Arizona, and the Yavapai and Apache heritage programs, based in Camp Verde, Arizona, were recognized. Hopi educators Eric and Jane Polingyouma of Second Mesa and Anita Poleahla of First Mesa discussed the importance of oral traditions and native language in embedding and continuing the values of indigenous cultures.
Historian Jesse Valdez presented an overview of early Mexican-American heritage around Tuzigoot, sharing photos and stories of early 1900s ranching families. Several descendants of workers involved in the excavation of Tuzigoot, construction of the museum in 1935, and artifact curation and display were also recognized.
National Park Service museum exhibit specialist Sue Fischer offered tours of the new exhibits, continuing a tradition of 75 years of updating the displays and sharing information. Over the celebratory weekend, cultural demonstrations were presented by Hopi old-style katsina carvers Philbert Honanie and Tayron Polequaptewa, chipped stone tool maker Amil Pedro of the Gila River Indian Community, and Apache flute and moccasin craftsmen Don Decker. The presentations helped connect visitors with technologies and expressions of the past.
Another major highlight of the opening weekend at Tuzigoot was a “star party” event after regular business hours, with talks, slide presentations and a gathering of local astronomers who volunteered to share their time, telescopes, expertise, and special viewing opportunities with the public.