First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 43

their hands in front of one of the campfires— poof!—the “flame” magically transforms into one from the variety of video presentations that showcase the artists describing their art and culture. The work created by living artists is of the highest technical quality. The historical pieces on display are some of the finest I have been fortunate enough to see. While this is an amazing opportunity for working artists to bring their art to a broader audience, the real opportunity exists for the viewer. This is a chance for people from many countries and cultures to get a glimpse of American Indian art and history. It is within reason to assume that many visitors to Disney World may never have been given the opportunity to experi- ence Native American history and culture from a Native point of view. Certainly, many Epcot guests have never seen such beautiful and thought-provoking American Indian art. Native input was provided through collaboration with several museums. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico, provided most of the objects and descriptions. The tribes whose homelands Disney World occupies were represented by Seminole and Miccosukee items selected by employees at the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation. These museum professionals as well as the artists were all tasked with the role of interpreting Native art and culture for the exhibition. Many of the individuals who work within these museums are Indigenous. Della Warrior played a vital role in the planning and implementation of Creating Tradition. When Warrior served as presi- dent of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), she worked on several projects with then vice president of Global Strategies for Diversity and Inclusion for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Carmen Smith. This early collab- oration between Warrior and Smith included an opportunity for IAIA to begin a summer film program that Disney funded for several years. Disney’s goal was to diversify creative talent within the Disney companies, and IAIA’s goal was to offer a four-year degree in film. What began as a small summer program resulted in a baccalaureate degree under the leadership of Robert Martin (Cherokee Nation), the current IAIA president. Disney WINTER 2018/19 | 41