Bulletts, technical services branch leader for the North Kaibab Ranger District, said she is honored to be contributing to a festival that her family has a history of attending.
“My mother-in-law used to go to the Folklife Festival and be a presenter,” Bulletts said. “And our tribal elders used to go a lot in the 70s. I’m really excited about representing the Forest Service.”
Bulletts also said she thinks she can provide a unique perspective on the history of the Forest Service because of her cultural background.
“Because of my tribal history and my ties to the land I think I can give a different perspective other than mainstream Forest Service,” Bulletts said. “I am Kaibab Paiute and of course I work on Kaibab National Forest so both my ability and my traditional values are very much tied to the forest. My traditional life cycle begins and ends here on the Kaibab.”
While Bulletts has longtime roots on the Kaibab, Weintraub, an archaeologist on the Williams Ranger District, was lured to the Southwest in college.
“I first came out to Flagstaff in 1985 to take an archaeology field school class,” Weintraub said. “Then I was hooked. I was pretty fascinated with trying to tell the story of people that lived a thousand years ago.”
Now, Weintraub said, the role of a forest archaeologist is more about maintaining relationships with people whose ancestors were the first inhabitants of the Kaibab than cataloguing ancient relics.
“Part of working at the Forest Service and what we do is to understand the different cultures you’re dealing with,” Weintraub said. “It’s not so much about the archaeology anymore. I think a big part of our job has been to work with our local tribes to be able to kind of integrate their interests into what we do.”
Weintraub said he is excited to take his knowledge of the ancient grounds of the Kaibab to the walkways of the National Mall.
“To hear that I was selected to go back east was pretty thrilling,” said Weintraub, who is originally from New York. “It’s kind of exciting to explain more about the culture and the history of the Southwest in an urban environment.”
And, Bulletts said, the cultures and heritage illustrated in the mountains and deserts of northern Arizona are often held in a stereotypical light.
“Usually when people think of us coming from Arizona, they see the low desert,” Bulletts said. “They recognize Arizona as saguaro cactus, the desert, the Superstition Mountains. But, because we come from the north, we do come from the forest and the Vermillion Cliffs and the part of Arizona that receives snow. So we do need to dispel some stereotypes about Arizona.”
Although they have not received an official confirmation of exactly what they will be contributing during their time at the festival, both Weintraub and Bulletts said they hope to show their individual craft techniques.
“I consider myself to be a master bead worker,” said Bulletts, who remembers beading with the women in her family from the time she was eight years old.
“Most of my craft is done in a traditional way that was taught to me by my aunts and my grandmother who were also master bead workers.”
Bulletts also creates traditional cradle boards, fashioning them out of willow and canvas and then decorating them with designs that indicate whether the baby is a boy or a girl.
“Much more intricate geometric designs are used for boys,” Bulletts said. “Girls usually have straight lines or simple diagonal lines.”
According to her report submitted to the Smithsonian, Bulletts may conduct an interactive exhibit where visitors can construct scaled-down cradle boards for themselves.
As his craft, Weintraub creates split twig figurines, modeled after those created by inhabitants of the Kaibab thousands of years ago.
“They’re replications of what we think were hunting fetishes made by Native Americans three to four thousand years ago in the Grand Canyon area,” Weintraub said. “They took willow and they would twist the willow into the outline of a deer or a bighorn sheep. They actually found deer feces and bighorn sheep feces inside the bodies of these figurines and sometimes they were found pierced by other sticks, so it seems like they were either ritually killed or it was the symbol of a successful hunt.”
Another activity Weintraub may orchestrate is an orienteering exercise where festival-goers will use map and compass to do a mock archaeological survey or find hidden prizes.
Since 1967 the Folklife Festival has been organized in an effort to create dialogue between different cultures, nationally and internationally, according to the Smithsonian Institute’s Web site.
The festival, which has featured more than 16,000 artists, musicians, and craftspeople, will be held in the capitol’s National Mall from June 23 to July 4. Because 2005 marks its centennial anniversary, this is the first year the Forest Service has been invited to participate. In fact, the Forest Service is only the third federal agency to be invited to the Folklife Festival – the White House and Smithsonian being the first two.
Three areas will be represented within the Forest Service exhibit : science and innovation, forest communities, and recreation.
Other feature exhibits include an exploration of the traditions and cultures of the Middle Eastern nation of Oman; a Food Culture USA site featuring food revolutions in the United States; and Nuestra Musica, a celebration and exploration of the Latino culture through music.
“The festival showcases living culture and heritage,” said Kaibab National Forest public affairs officer Cathie Schmidlin. “So it can be the heritage of just about anything. In our case it’s a public land management agency.”
Schmidlin said Bulletts’ cultural background and Weintraub’s public education activities were part of their qualifications as Folklife Festival participants.
“People who are visiting (the festival) will get an inside view of the highlighted cultures of the Forest Service,” said Schmidlin, who interviewed Weintraub and Bulletts for inclusion in the festival. “Basically we were looking for people who could tell the story of the Forest Service’s role in history through interactive presentations.”
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