The culmination of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center's 15th anniversary celebration will be a Cultural Survival Bazaar in late summer. The event takes place Aug. 8-10, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is part of a series of events that began in January to celebrate the museum, its mission and the work it has done over the past 15 years. The bazaar is representative, in many ways, of what the museum is all about, organizers said.
"The Cultural Survival Bazaar is a combination of marketplace and theater where indigenous artists from around the world are gathering to sell fairly traded products, including: traditional and contemporary crafts, artwork, clothing, jewelry, carpets, and accessories, in addition to offering live cultural performances and presentations," said director of public programs Kimberly Shockley. "Those attending should expect to sample foods from around the world, see artists demonstrating their talents and techniques, and might even get a chance to learn a cultural dance or two."
This cultural festival will feature more than 20 individuals, artists and cooperatives along with Native American storytelling and craft making demonstrations.
"My hope is that the event draws attention to the museum and the vast array of diversity in the world for us to celebrate," said museum manager of marketing Barbara Kingsland.
One of the artisans who will help celebrate that diversity is Bernard Domingo, a Zimbabwean wire artist. He creates sculptures out of recycled fishing wire, Coca-Cola cans and glass beads. Domingo is one of the Shona people of Zimbabwe, recognized worldwide for their artistry. He realized his own gifts as a young child. At age six, he was making toys out of wire coat hangers. As he got older, he formed Domingo Wirecraft, a cooperative that operates out of Zimbabwe.
Leonard and Amalia Four Hawks of Florence, Massachusetts, have taken part in Cultural Survival Bazaars since 2006. The Four Hawks' work includes Amalia's pottery and clay sculptures, Leonard's jewelry, and items that they work on together — such as their Wisdom Keeper baskets. They bring their talents as artists, as well as Leonard's gift for storytelling of native myths and legends.
Felicia Huarsaya is Aymara and comes from a small community in the Peruvian province of Azangaro. She brings hand-woven products including sweaters, scarves, hats, finger puppets, and other similar crafts, made by the indigenous women of Peru. The female farmers in the area sell these hand-woven products made from the highest quality alpaca fibers and sheep's wool, as part of a collective.
The Cultural Survival Bazaar Program is put on by Cultural Survival, Inc., a nonprofit, human rights organization. The bazaar program works to "strengthen indigenous cultures by providing a venue for the sale of art and crafts made by indigenous artisans throughout the world," according to its website, www.culturalsurvival.org.
"We chose to host the Cultural Survival Bazaar as part of our 15th anniversary celebration because this institution is not here just to represent one indigenous group, but it is here to celebrate all indigenous groups and the commonalities we all share," said Shockley. "This event will give those indigenous groups from around the world a forum to showcase their experiences and culture, as we have been able to do for the past 15 years."
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center is located at 110 Pequot Trail, Mashantucket, Conn. The Cultural Survival Bazaar will be held Aug. 8-10, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and admission is free with paid museum admission. Adults $20, seniors and college students $15, children 6-18 $12, museum members free.