A Mother Had To Leave Portland Art Museum due to Her Baby Carrier

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A Mother Had To Leave Portland Art Museum due to Her Baby Carrier

An indigenous mother visiting a Native American exhibit at the Portland Art Museum with her baby in a cradleboard on her back was asked to leave after personnel decided that she was violating their book bag policy. The mother from the Karuk tribe posted a picture of herself on her social media page with her baby at the indigenous museum show, which was taken before she was asked to leave.

The post expressed her dismay with the seemingly racist experience she faced during her visit to the museum. The Portland Art Museum has apologized to the public for the unprofessional behavior that caused this incident. They are also working to edit their policies so that indigenous mothers like the wrongfully dismissed Karuk tribe member can carry their babies how they wish even in traditional cradleboards.

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Native American Culture Spanning Thousands of Years
The indigenous mother that recently visited the Portland Art Museum to view the art of Oscar Howe left the museum after what felt like a racist dispute. A visitor services department member asked her to remove the baby carrier from her back as it was a violation of their book bag policy.

When she decided that she did not want to do as the personnel asked, she left the museum and took to social media. Her traditionally woven baby carrier has been a staple of Native American culture for thousands of years. Hence, it should have been allowed for her to carry her baby in this traditional manner, especially in a Native American art exhibit nonetheless.

Rather than wearing the baby carrier on their chests like in modern American culture, Native Americans wore their little ones on their backs. The baby is comfortably and securely swaddled in a blanket and mounted onto the wooden cradle board that the mothers would put on their backs much like a book bag with two straps.

What the Native American Art Curator Had To Say
Kathleen Ash-Milby is the curator of Native American art at the Portland Art Museum. She was dismayed to hear about the experience that the Karuk tribe mother experienced during her visit in mid-March 2023. The curator acknowledged that as a museum, they must continue to work together with Native American attendees and artists to form a stronger bond of respect and cultural understanding.

Hence, museum employees should be educated about various indigenous cultural customs to recognize and respect them if they are being practiced in the museum like the Karuk tribe's mother was doing. Indigenous individuals may not want to practice modern American customs and keep to their usual traditional ways of doing things.

The public apology the museum posted on its Twitter feed showed how regretful they acted as an institution in this cultural situation. They stated that their reaction does not reflect their morals and values as a museum of art and culture and that they are taking steps in revising the policy for baby carriers moving forward to reassure this incident does not occur again.

Fun Facts About the Karuk Tribe
Here are some fun facts about the Karuk tribe for those interested in learning about the indigenous mother's culture.

● Started its roots in California and is one of the largest Native American tribes in the area to this day.

● The tribe's name means upriver people.

● As of the 2010 census, a total of 6,115 tribe members dwell within the organization with over half of them being full-blooded Karuk members.

Fast forward to the present day, the tribe runs Rain Rock Casino and over a dozen departments within their community to service their tribe members.

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