On February 11, an Artist reception and dinner was held at the Canalside Neighborhood Center for Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members Royce Manuel and group of students that included Ron Carlos, August Wood and Joe Martinez.
Last August, Manuel was selected to participate in the Artist Leadership Program, sponsored by the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Working along with fellow Community-member artists Manuel spent two weeks in Washington in November. During the trip they visited different museum collections and were able to research the Community’s past by reviewing tribal artifacts, old photographs and literature. Manuel’s focus was on the construction of the kiaha (traditional burden basket).
As part of the Artist Leadership Program, the selected artists are required to return to their communities and give a presentation and workshop about their projects. Beginning in January, Manuel has been presenting a four-part series of workshops on the kiaha and agave fiber work to anyone interested in learning these traditional skills.
The evening began with a welcome by Manuel and a prayer. That was followed by socializing, dinner and a short program. In her remarks, SRPMIC President Diane Enos explained about Manuel’s Kiaha project and how it helps to preserve cultural traditions, and that Manuel did research in Washington and came back to share his knowledge and experience with the Community. Enos talked about the emotion she felt when she thought she would never get to see another burden basket being constructed. “What Royce Manuel is doing is a testament to our culture and lives,” Enos said.
“Tonight we are recognizing Royce Manuel’s accomplishments and acceptance into the NMAI Artist Leadership Program,” said Keevin Lewis outreach coordinator at the National Museum of American Indian, who oversees the American Indian Artist Leadership and Emerging Artist programs.
During dinner, guests enjoyed music by Carlos and a video of an O’odham elder sharing a legend of the kiaha. Everyone gathered around the television to hear. To close the evening, awards were presented to the participating artists for their efforts and commitment to revive the journey kiaha.
Photographs of the collections was on display along with “work in progress” projects from the workshop participants.