Artist James Luna shows CSUSM the importance of remembrance

Shannon Gallacher, Community Arts Reporter

The California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center hosted “ISHI: The Archive Performance,” a tribute to the last member of the Yahi tribe in California.

At age 50, Ishi was subjected to research at the UC Berkeley Museum of Anthropology in 1911, where he lived until his death at age 55, in order to fulfill the researchers’ desire to show people “a real Native American.”

James Luna, a Luiseño Native American, portrayed Ishi’s sentiment concerning his mistreatment at the museum.

Accompanied by various videos, the Sept. 12 performance opened my eyes and led me to think about the constant changes in society and how easy it is to forget about the previous struggles of the people before us.

Moving forward while we remember the stories of hardship and maintaining the traditions of those before us is an important part of accepting other cultures, which is exactly what the performance did.

Luna introduced the audience to a new perspective in understanding the struggles of Ishi and other Native Americans.

Luna emanated that Ishi’s experience at the museum was not an efficient or humane way of learning about his culture. Instead, it kept him silent.

Luna expressed that if researchers had not dehumanized him by placing him behind glass for families to take pictures of and point at, but instead given him the choice to openly share his stories of his tribe and culture, we may have had a more accurate picture.

“ISHI: The Archive Performance” was a window into a more in-depth understanding of the trials and tribulations of Ishi and the Californian Yahi tribe.