BURKE MUSEUM (MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY AND CULTURE)

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(By: Mimi Cabate-Cabral of El Nido, Palawan)

        In approaching the entrance to the Burke Museum, there are two handsomely sculpted TOTEM POLES, seems to greet every visitors. Inside we meet the curators and other staff: Peter Lape, Brooke and Mary. Ms. Lace Thornberg introduced us to them. Their displays of collections vary from small artifacts, photographs, canoe, fishing and agricultural skills and creativity….But wait ‘till you see the other parts of the edifice. With everything therein, you will hold your breath in amazement.

          Artifacts collections from the other parts of the world are arranged nicely and systematically, same as the ones collected from every parts of U.S. But for me, it was the history of the Indian Nations and everything about them that were the most interesting things. The photographs; “On the wall was the reminiscense of the once foreboding kingdoms, empire or village, under wise and strong leaders.” Who did were the great heroes in their country? (I got more answers upon reaching Suquamish Museum) Shamans in their ceremonial uniforms, rattle and medicine bag, headdress of feathered war bonnets or same thing that speaks of their ranks as warrior, or in the tribe. Chiefs and his family wore colorful clothing, adorned with beads and seashells, especially dentalia shells and their jewelries made out of twigs of silver and turquoise, all artistically crafted.

         There in the pictures of their houses you could see how women handled household chores, is hand task for family’s survival, Much more the time of freezing months. Tepees made of logs and hides of cow, hogan of logs, stone and earth, and the apartment kind of stone and sundried clay houses (adobe) of the prehistoric people who forged every kind of tools; from a variety of knives, arrowheads, hammers, scrappers, and spear points out of stones. This made me imagine their men, hauling whale or reindeer and bear etc, on their shoulder and on their backs. As the children and women meet them with joy. Then a few hours later, you’ll see Women busy in the fish and meat drying area.

        Then I realized how gracious is the supreme spirit being, who also gifted this nation with lakes and seas full of salmon, shrimps, clams and whale. Out of the forest; plants, trees like maples and cedars of different colors for foods and clothing.

        The canoe, which is used by family travels or fishing or war boats during enemy’s attempt of invasion. It show the patience of the builders, from cutting cedar, chopping and splitting with wedges, to form a tub in the inner portion, from the hull and the area where a man with a paddle used as rudder sit, to the front tip.

         About their colorful textile: Women are gathering roots, leaves and barks. These were extracted to collect the sap used to dye the fabrics  directly or the threads before it is being dried, after that it is rolled in a spool and set on their looms, to begin textile wearing. Indian women, I noticed, through their colorful dresses of other garments, and produced blankets and carpets, have the expertise in creating patterns of triangles and geometrical designs, while working (Spinning their looms). There’s art everywhere: The portion of the Burke Museum featuring needle works of artist who are members  of women.

          The exhibit “Empowering Women through Cooperatives” has also fascinating arts. You can see through it the broad imaginations of the artists, who made the quilt and other artworks, with finery. (Such masterpieces). In the Burke room, during our welcome reception, I was amazed with lots of stencils made by talented stencil painting artists.

          Our last visit in the museum is the highlight of our visiting Seattle. From weapons to shields, fine silk, baskets, etc. — name it and the museum is sure to have it. And the most exciting, holding our very own Philippines flag of 1899, for photographs.

           Thank you, American People, I was really so impressed.

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