ABSTRACT

I experienced a déjà vu moment when I entered the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Folkways during the fall of 2006 and saw the central image of the Diba Jimooyung, which is the exhibit that tells the story of the original people of the Great Lakes region. The image includes two characters, an elder and a youth, juxtaposed in a manner in which the elder appears to be conveying wisdom, or a set of instructions, to the youth. It is a noble image of an honorable practice, and I felt spiritually uplifted as I witnessed the image. I also felt a heightened sense of comfort, mostly because the conversation and teacher–learner relationship between the elder and the youth are at the core of how I was raised—it is how I have learned the most important lessons in my life. But it was a déjà vu moment because several years ago, as I participated in the design of a museum in a community close to my rural south-Texas home, I suggested to the design committee that the first image a visitor to the museum sees should be an image showing an elder and a youth engaged in conversation. It is the most genuine and enduring image that captures the mode through which I learned life’s important lessons as a Mexican boy growing up on both sides of the Texas–Mexico border; it conveys the essence of my culture. In the end, the south Texas museum design committee opted to use the space for other purposes, but as I 166entered the Ziibiwing Center, I was nostalgically struck by the image, as if it were a dream from the past.