Day 104: My trip to the Museum of Indian Culture… where I didn’t learn much about Indians at all.

It wasn’t until this past fall that I discovered the existence of a great, little museum in Allentown- the Museum of Indian Culture. I have been trying to plan a trip their for the past 6 months, but it was always put on the back burner, and I would momentarily forget about it. Well today, my mom and I made a trip over their, anxious to finally see the treasures and history it held within.

I had called ahead to make sure they were open and to ask how long their guided tours were (they didn’t advertise for self-guided tours), and the man on the other end of line replied, “Well, it depends on how many questions you ask.” Thanks.

Now, this guy sounded like a pretty interesting, and if I’m being truthful, annoying, smarty pants kind of guy. But, hey, I hadn’t met him yet.

And then I met him and realized that he, in fact, was an interesting, annoying, smarty pants kind of guy. He was still nice though, and very gracious, and a story-teller. Not that his style of story-telling was great, but at least he entertained you.

I don’t know if this was naive of me to think, but  I was just assuming (and hoping) that it was owned and run by American Indians (or at least descendants of Indian tribes). This was not the case. This guy who gave us the tour, and who we learned ran the museum, was no more an Indian than I am (For those of you that don’t know me, that means he isn’t an Indian).

The tour was unlike any other museum tour I’ve experienced. “Wilbur” didn’t seem to have any planned history speech, which was kind of what I wanted to hear. At first it was so awkward. We had to start asking him question after question (mostly coming from my mom) to get him to tell us things. Once he got started though, he went off on tangents of random stories and facts that sounded half true and half legend.

Here is an example of what our conversations were like.  When talking about how they hunted animals, the skunk came up. “You women should love skunks.” When we asked him why, he wouldn’t tell us, and instead went on to tell 5 or so stories that led up to the answer. (This is where the annoying, smarty-pants aspect came in.)

I’ll make the long round-about story short. Here are the important points. (Notice how the only thing this schpeel has to do with Indians is the fact that Indians hunted skunks along with other animals.)

European men and women bathed once  year. They also dumped their waste out windows, onto the street. This is why men walked on the outside, letting women walk by the building. So men stank and stank more from waste. They only bathed in May, which is why wedding in June became a tradition, so they smelled better. Also why brides carry flowers, to cover the smell. Then they started making perfume from skunk oil. They took the oil, cooked out the bad smell with charcoal, and mixed it with a good smell, like flowers. Therefore women should love skunks.

Why, why, why would I want to spend all my time hearing this, when I came to learn about Indians?

If you haven’t been to this museum, I recommend  you go. Not so you can learn about Indian culture (because you won’t, really), but so you can experience the creative mind of “Wilbur” and see the unique, slightly off-beat atmosphere of the museum itself.

And mark your calendars! On August 20th and 21st, the museum is hosting their 31st annual Roasting Ears of Corn festival! Awesome!

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2 Comments on “Day 104: My trip to the Museum of Indian Culture… where I didn’t learn much about Indians at all.”

  1. Deb Says:

    i’m surprised you didn’t mention mom and the dream catcher girl hahahahaaaa

    • Sarah Sullivan Says:

      HAHAHA yea, i don’t think it would translate as well over type or be received like it should


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