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Remarks by AIT Director Stephen M. Young at Opening of Sacred Legacy American Indian Photo Exhibit in National Museum of Natural Science, Taichung October 26, 2007

OT0716E | Date: 2007-10-26

Mayor Hu, Director Lin, Ladies & Gentlemen:

It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you for the opening of this beautiful Sacred Legacy exhibit.  In celebration of American Indian Heritage Month in November, AIT is happy to share with our Taiwan friends these photographs depicting the beauty and diversity of American Indian culture.  I am truly grateful to our hosts here at the National Museum of Natural Science for providing us with such a great space for this exhibit.

The late 1800s and early 1900s were a time of enormous change in American history.  American settlers were moving west across our great country and expanding all the way to the Pacific Ocean.  This expansion had a dramatic impact on Native American peoples.  Their culture, their way of life, which had been locked in time for so long, was changed forever.

But thanks to the work of explorers, artists, and photographers, the traditional ways of the American Indian were not lost.  One of the most important archivists of this way of life was Edward S. Curtis, who used innovative techniques in photo engraving to capture the spirit and the proud traditions behind the American Indian faces he photographed.

A century ago, Curtis began a twenty-three year journey, creating an irreplaceable photographic record of more than eighty North American native nations.  In total, he took over 45,000 photographs of American Indians from the Southwest, the Great Plains, the Northwest, and the Alaskan Plateau.  This project remains an unparalleled artistic and historic achievement as well as a milestone in publishing history.

Today, we are able to enjoy sixty of those photographs in this special exhibit which will travel to four museums in Taiwan.  It opened in Taipei, has now arrived in Taichung, will then move to Taitung and close in Kaohsiung just before Chinese New Year.

We are delighted to share with you, our Taiwan friends, this important part of America's cultural heritage.  It is my hope that many others - whether students, teachers, or simply those interested in this aspect of our history - will enjoy these beautiful photographs in the coming months.  The preservation of aboriginal cultural heritage is an important value shared by many of us here in Taiwan and in America.

I'm delighted you could join us for the opening of this Sacred Legacy exhibit.  I think you will not only enjoy it but also learn a great deal.

Thank you.

Director's Speeches