For its end-of-summer celebration, the Mid-America All-Indian Center is offering up a family-friendly event – with a twist. For the first time, activities usually held outside will all happen inside the museum.
Usually, community member Jan Brooks tells stories outside by the campfire, but on Saturday, storytelling will be inside the museum underneath tribal flags in the middle of the day. And instead of touring the museum in light, visitors will receive flashlights to walk around in the dark.
“Museum Flip Flop: Stories in the Sun, Tours in the Dark,” will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Indian Center.
“People have this idea that museums are boring and old school,” said Sarah Adams, museum director for the Indian Center. “We are trying to say we are pretty quirky and show people that you can learn, and it can be fun.”
While making the event fun with interactive, new activities, Adams also hopes to educate.
“The biggest stereotype we are trying to challenge is that Native Americans are not around anymore or that they are all living in tepees,” Adams said. “We are showing people that Native Americans are an active part of our community.”
Crystal Flannery-Bachicha, education coordinator at the Indian Center, took part in planning Museum Flip Flop.
“I like the fact that with these events we kind of let everybody know who (American Indians) are today and that we, just like everyone else, evolve and change throughout time,” said Flannery-Bachicha, who is part of the Tohono O’odham tribe. “I also think it’s unique we will be able to show them museums and story time in two completely different ways than they are normally done.”
Adams said it’s important that education starts early.
“We have been trying to get more kids involved in the Indian Center,” she said.
Adams anticipates that activities such as the meet-and-greet with Kneehigh, a American Miniature Horse less than 3 feet tall, will make children excited about learning. The horse is half the size of horses usually mentioned in American Indian history. Children will have the opportunity to get a photo with Kneehigh.
Flashlights and glow sticks will guide the way as guests are led on tours in the dark – a first for the museum. Twenty-minute guided tours will be at 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Also, to fit the theme, outdoor art is coming inside. Artists of all ages will be able to grab chalk and use the Gallery of Nations cement floor as a canvas.
“At the end of it, there will be a big mural from what everybody has drawn to show that we are all different, but we make a big thing together,” Adams said.
Children will receive education packs that have coloring books, an activity sheet, and a mini loom to make a miniature rug.
In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to view 3,000 pieces in the museum collection, around 70 tribal flags, artifacts from all over the country and art exhibits by American Indians such as Blackbear Bosin, sculptor of “The Keeper of the Plains” in downtown Wichita.
Adams said many visitors are surprised the center is inter-tribal, and American Indians are not all one tribe. Each tribe has different traditions and customs. Wichita represents more than 72 tribes out of the 566 federally recognized tribes in the United States.
“I hope they go away with a different image that they may have had of the Indian Center,” Adams said.
If you go
Museum Flip Flop
When: 1-3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Mid-America All-Indian Center, 650 N. Seneca
Tickets: $3.50 (plus tax); ages12 and under get in free
Information: theindiancenter.org or call 316-350-3340