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Chanting ancient Native American prayers and burning sweet grass, the chief medicine man of the Wamponoag tribe blessed the new Hall of the North American Indian which will open Thursday at the Preabody Museum.
Slow Turtle, executive director of the Massachusetts' Commission on Indian Affairs, said his prayers served as "a cleansing ceremony" which would honor the Native American pottery, weaving, clothing, weapons and religious icons featured in the collection.
"The people in this land prior to Columbus were human beings and weren't savages with no conception of living. We are deeply spiritual and cultural people, and you see that in this exhibit," said Slow Turtle.
The ceremony "added the part that was missing from the exhibit," said Assistant Director of the Peabody Museum Ian W. Brown '72, curator of the exhibit. "We asked Slow Turtle to come in order to get the Indian stamp of approval."
"This afternoon has enriched this exhibit" said C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, director of the Peabody Museum.
Slow Turtle was assisted by a pipe carrier from his tribe named Pussough, who expressed ambivalence at seeing the artifacts that had once been an integral part of the lives of his ancestors encased in glass in a museum.
"I can feel the life that was represented in some of these pieces. They speak to me. I would like to see them put back in the use that they once enjoyed," Pussough said.
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