Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
Public Contact: Ileen Shepard Gallagher (202) 707-9068

February 17, 1994

Library of Congress Traveling Exhibition Includes Recorded Lifestyles of 15th Century Indian Peoples in the Americas

The Library of Congress traveling exhibition "In Their Own Voices" will open March 12 in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. The exhibition illustrates the culture, lifestyle and language of Indian peoples in the Americas before and after the arrival of Europeans. The idea for "In Their Own Voices" came from a previous exhibition at the Library of Congress, "1492: An Ongoing Voyage." This exhibition, based on the period 1450 to 1600, raised questions about the lives of early explorers, the people they encountered and how lifestyles of these groups changed.

"In Their Own Voices" uses three primary documents from "1492" and focuses on the cultures of three Indian groups before and after their European encounter.

Native Americans used pictorial drawings to record events and transactions. The pictures reflect the language, counting system and structure within their society before Europeans arrived. The primary documents of "In Their Own Voices" are: the Huejotzingo Codex of 1531 that illustrates the tax system of the Nahua people in Puebla, Mexico; the Oztoticpac Lands Map, 1540, which shows land ownership among people living east of present day Mexico City; and, Battiste Good's "Winter Count" 1230-1907, named after its author, Battiste Good, which shows how the Brule people of South Dakota and Nebraska used symbolic pictures to record historic events. There are additional objects and photographs in the exhibition to support each of these documents.

Taxes have been levied for hundreds of years to support a structural system, as shown in the Huejotzingo Codex of 1531. The Nahua people paid taxes depending on their productivity. The Codex shows a system of agriculture, weaving, construction and even slavery. The Huejotzingo Codex was prepared for presentation in a Spanish court, part of the Indians' protest against the extreme demands of the Spanish.

The 1540 Lands Map by the people of Oztoticpac, indicates where and how many people lived on designated plots of land. The size and location of these plots provide information about their residents' class and indicate that the notion of "private property was accepted and practiced.

The "Winter Count" of the Brule people shows how they recorded yearly events with a single drawing. In addition to annual key or symbolic events pictured for a given winter, some drawings, one every 60 years, note important changes, particularly in relation to traditional hunting practices.

"In Their Own Voices" will be exhibited in various locations across the country. The current schedule for the exhibition is on the next page.

Traveling Exhibition Schedule for "In Their Own Voices"

  • March 12 - April 24, 1994 Marian College Fond Du Lac, Wisc.
  • May 6 - June 26, 1994 Los Alamos County Historical Museum Alamos, N.M.
  • July 16 - Aug. 28, 1994 Wyoming State Museum Cheyenne
  • Sept. 17 - Oct. 30, 1994 Museum of Western Colorado Grand Junction
  • Nov. 19, 1994 - Jan. 1, 1995 University of Vermont Library Burlington
  • Jan. 21 - March 5, 1995 Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • March 25 - May 27, 1995 Enid Indian Education Offices Enid, Ok.
  • May 27 - July , 1995 Native American Resources Center Pembrooke State University Pembrooke, N.C.

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PR 94-025
ISSN 0731-3527

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