Components of Native American culture brought to light at Southern Apache Museum Exhibition

By Savannah Mehrtens, '19

Photo: Savannah Mehrtens, Nautilus Staff

Native American from the Southern Apache Museum dressed in full traditional attire prepared to perform his dance representing the chicken with his country's flag waving in the background.

The rataplan of a young Houston Apache’s deer hide drum echoed through the flag room as students sat and watched an oppressed culture peacefully carry on their traditions to educate students outside of the classroom. Dressed in traditional attire, members of the Southern Apache Museum performed the songs of their people in remembrance of veterans, wars, and more.

 Founder, Curator, and Director of the Southern Apache Museum Chance L. Landry and others displayed native dances and traditions with a goal of spreading the peaceful culture of the Native American people. The two-hour production began with the discussion of Columbus and the true story based on documented evidence by Theodor de Bry of the damage created by European explorers to the indigenous people presented by Landry.

Landry urged students to sign a petition in hopes of changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. Students Shamel Baskerville and Suzanne Tenison, class of ‘17, were both grateful for the educational experience and signed the petition.

“They talked about Columbus Day, and they gave a few examples of why we should have it called Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day,” Tenison said. “I definitely back that up.”

When Columbus and other Spaniards first came to the Americas and immediately began killing, torturing, and using the native people in the name of their god, Native American Theodor de Bry documented the abuse with drawings and descriptions. Visuals are seen with Spaniards throwing babies against large rocks, cutting up the body and feeding it to their hungry animals. Others show women being staked through their navel to head and Spaniards carrying the body to a destination. Native Americans as a whole are pushing for the removal of Columbus Day, and if replaced with anything to rename it Indigenous Peoples Day instead.

“I think it’s very important because many people don’t know what Columbus Day stands for and the reason it is here,” Baskerville said. “Columbus is a savage and not the person we thought he should be.”

After the speech portion of the exhibition, Native Americans from the Southern Apache Museum in Houston performed traditional music and dances from their tribes. The group brought in a traditional drum and used it during the exhibition.

After the first few dances, students were invited to join in. Students paraded around the flag room at first in confusion that quickly turned into a unified dance. The students who participated for the entire event were pleased with the outcomes of the exhibition of the Southern Apache Museum. “It was really exciting to be a part of it and actually dancing with them,” Tenison said.

The cultural awareness that came out of the exhibition was exactly what Dr. Kenyatta Y. Dawson, Assistant Director for Office of Student Diversity Initiatives, was hoping for.

“The main goal for this program is to immerse our campus with cultures that are in our surrounding communities,” Dawson said. “Cultural immersion challenges individuals in ways that are hard to imagine. It enables individuals to become culturally competent and enhance daily experiences.”

Although most of the artifacts at the museum are centered around the Apache tribe, Landry works to represent all of the 68,000 plus Native American Indians in the surrounding area of Houston. The Southern Apache Museum is located at 9600 Hempstead Hwy., 550 NW Mall in Houston, 77092. They welcome all and educate in the history of their culture and the hopeful future of their people.