Museum celebrates Utah Prehistory and Heritage Week with Native American legends


    By Sarah Nelson

    Angela Fields and her mother Shirley Esquerra entertained a large crowd of all ages on Thursday, May 11, at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures by sharing Native American myths and legends.

    Fields, a member of the Hopi and Chemehuevi Indian tribes, grew up in Parker, Ariz., on the Colorado River Indian Tribes Reservation.

    She now resides in Orem and has been performing in the area for 14 years.

    She has also traveled to many European nations to tell stories and perform traditional Native American dances.

    Traditionally, Native American story telling was done in the winter months, Fields said.

    During the winter, the Native Americans had more free time because there was not as much work and the weather was not conducive for being outdoors. Story telling was a way to teach values and traditions, she said.

    Those in attendance at the museum on Thursday night enjoyed hearing the vivid stories.

    “It was interesting to hear them use so few human characters in their stories and more animals. I think it shows such appreciation for the earth and nature,” said Jamie Sonntag, 21, a junior from Salt Lake City majoring in social work.

    Melissa Cashman, a psychology graduate, said she was impressed by the values portrayed in the stories.

    “The stories told were very entertaining, but I enjoyed the fact that each story had a different underlying lesson or moral,” she said.

    “We all need to share our heritage because there is so much we can learn from each other,” Cashman said.

    Museum officials were pleased with the turnout for the event.

    “There were more people here tonight than we expected. Tonight I saw new people that I haven’t seen at the museum before. I’m glad because we like to reach everyone,” said Mauri Liljenquist, coordinator of Museum Programs.

    The Museum of Peoples and Cultures will conclude their Utah Heritage Week celebration on May 13 with a demonstration fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Participants will learn how to flintknap, grind corn, make cordage, beads and shape pottery.

    The event will take place on the front lawn of the museum located at 700 N 100 E in Provo.

    For more information call the museum at (801) 378-6698.

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