The United Keetoowah Band (UKB) John Hair Cultural Center & Museum (JHCCM) was recently awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services Grant. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visitwww.imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook(link is external) and Twitter(link is external).
The John Hair Cultural Center and Museum will lead the "Missing Pieces: Documenting Keetoowah Heritage" project to identify missing documents fundamental to Keetoowah heritage. Museum staff and advisory team members will visit three museum collections in Oklahoma and three major archival collections. The visits will provide opportunities to identify important Keetoowah heritage documents to copy for use or request for loan to include in future exhibits and programming, resulting in the creation of a resource list of heritage documents not in the museum's collection. Facsimiles and digital copies of documents obtained through the visits will be used to support a refreshed long-term exhibition; six travel briefcases for use in teaching students; and syllabary classes, focusing on the written representation of the Cherokee Keetoowah language.
“The John Hair Cultural Center & Museum is grateful to IMLS for providing the JHCCM the opportunity to recover documents important to the history of the Keetoowah people,” said Ernestine Berry, JHCCM Director. “We have waited a very long time to acquire documents or copies of documents that have been scattered in many different directions to various institutions over several decades,” said Berry. “We have now begun to reclaim the missing pieces of Keetoowah history that have for so long been lost to the people,” Berry said.
A “Missing Pieces” Team will make trips to the Archive in Washington, D.C. and various other repositories to research Keetoowah documents and request quality copies or facsimiles. Collection activities began this month and will continue until February of 2017. Selected Keetoowah documents written in the Sequoyan Syllabary will be translated by the Missing Pieces Team into English. The transcriptions along with the original or copies of the documents will be the focus of a JHCCM exhibit scheduled for September 2017.
“Collecting and having the documents in our museum will make the JHCCM the only place in the world where people can come to learn the true history of the Keetoowah people. This will give our youth an opportunity to know their own history and to be proud of their Keetoowah Heritage,” said Barbara Girty, a UKB member.