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On the Mall, 'A Feast for the Eyes'

Wednesday, September 22, 2004; Page A19

Back in New Mexico, it is harvest time. The crops of the Jemez Pueblo -- corn, chilies, beans and melon -- are ready for picking, and as soon as she returns, Amelita Toledo will be back in the fields.

But yesterday, in her 89th year, she witnessed a different gathering. Native peoples all around her, in the heart of the nation's capital. So familiar and yet so different.


Participants in the Native Nations Procession take a moment to express themselves from the steps of the National Gallery of Art. (Carol Guzy -- The Washington Post)

"All kinds of Indians you never see," she said with quiet satisfaction. "So many tribes."

On this first visit to Washington, Toledo was accompanied by her granddaughter, Amy Tang. Both are charter members of the new museum. They sat quietly in a side section just west of the stage as the official program began.

"I came with the expectation that this would be a feast for the eyes," Tang said, camera in hand. "It's home, and yet it's still foreign."

-- Susan Levine

Many Ways to Say 'Hello'

Three attractive young men stood on a small wooden platform opposite the West Building of the National Gallery of Art. The Eastern Pequot walked past, yellow feathers waving. The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe followed, their satin-ribbon trim shimmering in the sun.

Members of the Jicarilla Apache Nation delegation from Dulce, N.M., let out a cheer. The men on the platform -- all wearing their native seal-skin boots and handmade kuspuk liners to keep out the snow -- whooped back, like seals.

From below came the standard greeting of the day. "Where are you from?" asked a man in a black Stetson.

"Alaska," said one of the three, who had a long ponytail.

"Where in Alaska?" asked the Stetson.

"Anchorage," said the ponytail.

"Camai!" the Stetson said confidently, using the Inupiat word for hello. It came out sounding like "Chi-mai."

The man wearing the Stetson was Ron Andrade, director of the Native American Indian Commission in Los Angeles and a member of the La Jolla Indian Reservation of north San Diego County.


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