ASHTABULA - The Ashtabula County District Library was proud to announce last week that it has been selected in a competitive application process to host Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness, a traveling exhibition to U.S. libraries.
Native Voices explores the interconnectedness of wellness, illness and cultural life for Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians Stories drawn from both the past and present examine how health for Native People is tied to community, the land and spirit. Through interviews Native People describe the impact of epidemics, federal legislation, the loss of land and the inhibition of culture on the health of Native individuals and communities today.
The ACDL is one of only two libraries in the State of Ohio chosen to host the exhibit, said Debra Laveck, community relations coordinator. The other library is at the University of Cincinnati.
As one of the 104 grant recipients selected from across the country, the Ashtabula Library will host the traveling exhibition for a six-week loan during its tour of the United States from February 2016 to June 2020. The Ashtabula Library will also receive a $250 programming grant, virtual training and publicity materials.
The ACDL will host the exhibit from May to early July 2018.
Laveck said ACDL officials have known since December 2015 that it was chosen to be part of the national exhibit, but they wanted to wait until the renovations were finished before announcing the honor.
March seemed like an appropriate time, as it is Women’s History Month, and many tribes are matriarchal, Laveck said.
“We are so pleased to bring the National Library of Medicine’s fascinating exhibition to Ashtabula,” said Penny Neubauer, ACDL director. “We hope the Native People in our community will take pride in the exhibition, and that all visitors will enjoy learning about these powerful concepts.”
Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness was displayed at the NLM in Bethesda, Maryland, from 2011 to 2015. To learn more and view content from the exhibition, visit www.nlm.nih.gov/nativevoices.
“The fact that a national traveling exhibit is showing up in Ashtabula is a big honor,” Neubauer said.
Although the exhibit will not be displayed until 2018, the ACDL already is planning programming to go along with the exhibit. A schedule of the exhibition and related events at the Ashtabula Library will be available in January 2018. Visit www.acdl.info for more information.
“We have activities and events planned for the several weeks the exhibit will be here at the Ashtabula Library,” said Laveck. “The United Eastern Lenape Nation will be hosting a powwow on the library grounds one weekend. We are arranging for guest speakers on a number of topics and are organizing art and music projects with the Ashtabula Arts Center.”
Laveck said the other organizations helped the library obtain the exhibit with their letters of support.
“We could not have undertaken this project without the support of the United Eastern Lenape Nation and Bonnie Morning Dove Thompson, the Ashtabula Arts Center and the Northeastern Ohio Regional Library System. They will continue to be vital to the success of this project and we are delighted they have signed on for this exciting adventure,” Laveck said.
Neubauer hopes the exhibit will spur discussion and help people get a better idea of the bigger world around them.
Dragonfly Vanpelt, of the United Eastern Lenape Nation, said the nation, based in Ashtabula County, is 300 members strong. She hopes people will learn more about Native people through the exhibit.
She also hopes it clears up some misconceptions people have. For example, she recalled a moment in which one of the Lenape children had been told by a school teacher that Native Americans were all deceased.
The concept that we’re still here is important, she said.
photo by stefanie wessell
Ashtabula County District Library Reference Librarian Tammy Hiltz, forefront, and Dragonfly Vanpelt, of the United Eastern Lenape Nation, look through the Native American section of the library.