An exhibit celebrating the centennial fieldwork undertaken by Charles Marius Barbeau, a Canadian ethnographer who traveled to Oklahoma to research Native Americans, will be developed at the Sam Noble Museum thanks to a $30,000 grant from the Wyandotte Nation and $7,500 from the Seneca-Cayuga community.
“The contributions of the Wyandotte Nation and Seneca-Cayuga will recognize and celebrate the important work of Dr. Charles Marius Barbeau on the centennial anniversary of his fieldwork on Wyandotte and Seneca-Cayuga communities,” said museum director Michael Mares. “This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase Dr. Barbeau’s sound recordings of vocabulary, stories and songs made a century ago that have been critical to the modern language and cultural revitalization programs in these communities.”
In 1911, Barbeau traveled from the National Museum of Canada to Oklahoma to study the Wyandotte Nation and Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, distant cousins of the Hurons of Lorette, in Quebec, who had originally informed Barbeau of their cousins in Oklahoma.
Barbeau stayed in Oklahoma through 1912, studying the traditions of the tribes, recording their languages, incorporating their songs and stories in his research and taking many photographs. He also purchased many items belonging to the tribes to take back to the National Museum of Canada.
On Sept. 6, the Sam Noble Museum will bring to life the objects and photographs collected by Barbeau in The Gathering of Traditions – A Centennial Celebration of Dr. Charles Marius Barbeau in Oklahoma, a special exhibition displaying the history of the Wyandotte and Seneca-Cayuga communities and the work of Barbeau to preserve their cultures and traditions.
“This exhibit looks back 100 years into our history, and it looks forward into the future,” said Wyandotte Nation Chief Billy Friend. “Through this partnership, we are learning more of our history and gaining a deeper and more personal understanding of how our people lived.”
During this year’s 100th anniversary of Barbeau’s visit to Oklahoma, the Wyandotte Nation Culture Committee will honor the impact his work is having on the nation today. Stories about the people who created or owned the artifacts being displayed are being gathered by the Wyandotte Nation to bring the exhibit to life.
“We are honored to have this opportunity to work with the finest museum professionals in the world to showcase the work Dr. Barbeau did with us 100 years ago,” said Friend.
The Sam Noble Museum’s exhibition will recognize the importance of the materials collected by Barbeau within the culture and heritage programs used by contemporary Wyandotte and Seneca-Cayuga communities.
The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is located on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus at Timberdell Road and Chautauqua Avenue.
Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors 65 and up, and $3 for youth ages 6 to 17. Children ages 5 and under are admitted free. Discounts are available for military personnel and their immediate families. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution. For accommodations on the basis of disability, call (405) 325-4712.