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>> EDUARDO: Hi!
>> SUZANNA: Hi.
>> EDUARDO: How are you? I'm Eduardo D’az.
>> PIERRE: I'm Pierre!
>> EDUARDO: Hi Pierre.
>> SUZANNA: Hi I'm Suzanna.
>> EDUARDO: Suzanna, hi. We're at the Latino Center here in the Smithsonian.
>> SUZANNA: We're here at the Smithsonian Institution to find out more about Latino
>> PIERRE: And find out what it means to be a Latino today: our struggles, our contributions,
and the diversity of our many cultures.
>> EDUARDO: Sure well you've come to the right place. The Smithsonian has lots of objects
here that help tell the story of the experience of our many communities.
>> V.O. EDUARDO: While the Smithsonian does not have a museum solely devoted to the history
and culture of Latinos, we celebrate Latino culture, spirit, and achievement in many ways,
all around the Institution. For more than a decade, the Smithsonian Latino Center has
collaborated with museums, research centers, and affiliated institutions on over 300 projects
including publications, public lectures, performances and festivals, exhibitions, as well as the
development of collections around the institution.
>> PIERRE: Wow, that's a big list. But what about the permanent collections? What can
we visit today?
>> V.O. EDUARDO: Well we have hundreds of objects scattered throughout the Institution
which give us a really good picture of our experience here.
>> V.O. PIERRE: Where do you recommend going first?
>> EDUARDO: I think the best place to start really is the National Museum of the American
Indian, um, there are many of us, including myself, that are mixed heritage and part of
our heritage is Indigenous, and the museum of the American Indian has done a really,
really good job of documenting and collecting objects that really reflect our experience.
>> PIERRE: OK I think we're going to get started.
>> EDUARDO: OK Pierre.
>> PIERRE: Thank you.
>> EDUARDO: Great! Thanks for coming by Suzanna. Have a good day OK? Bye bye.
>> JOSƒ: Hi, you guys.
>> SUZANNA: Hi.
>> PIERRE: Hi.
>> JOSƒ: JosŽ Barreiro, I'm Assistant Director of Research here at the Museum. How are you?
>> PIERRE: I'm Pierre.
>> SUZANNA: I'm Suzanna.
>> JOSƒ: How are you Suzanna? I noticed you were looking at this material.
>> PIERRE: Oh yeah. Were all of these made by Native Americans?
>> JOSƒ: All this was made by Native people prior to the coming of European, ah, civilization.
>> V.O. JOSƒ: This mask here is about a thousand years old.
>> PIERRE: It's nice to see all this stuff arranged.
>> V.O. JOSƒ: It's amazing that it got collected.
>> SUZANNA: Yeah.
>> V.O. JOSƒ: These are some very rare pieces of the gold because so much of it was melted
down, in big bars, that were then shipped to Europe just for the sake of the metal itself.
>> JOSƒ: Unfortunately, in that context a lot of the beauty a lot of the art was missed.
>> PIERRE: But much of this culture remains.
>> JOSƒ: Not only remains, but thrives today. There are many people who still from the South
American countries coming north settling in the United States as Latino people but also
as Indigenous people. So you have for instance in Southern Florida, some twenty to sixty
thousand Maya people now, new Migrants into the United States. We have an exhibit let
me show you!
>> JOSƒ: So here we are this is the Maya exhibit I was telling you about. This is a
Maya Q'eqchi' particular one of the 22 people of the Mayan People of Mesoamerica.
>> V.O. JOSƒ: And so you have here some of the TRAJE the traditional clothing that the
women wear. And you still see this in Southern Florida. You see this in the stores, you see
the young women not just the older women following their tradition, but the young people really
want to retain their identity.
>> JOSƒ: Here you have the real wonder of American civilization which is not the gold,
it's the corn.
>> V.O. JOSƒ: The corn is the greatest gift of the Indian People of the Americas, and
it's representative of a high agricultural tradition.
>> JOSƒ: The crop of corn in one year is worth more than all the gold and silver ever
taken out of the Americas.
>> V.O. PIERRE: I think it's just amazing to see that after all these years Native Americans
are still thriving here in the U.S.
>> V.O. SUZANNA: Not only enriching the Latino culture, but the country as a whole.
>> V.O. JOSƒ: No it's true I mean when you add cultures to any civilization to any country,
every culture adds something. It puts its own stick in the fire. It makes that fire
grow bigger and glow that much more red, and so in the United States we should celebrate
every culture that comes in. It makes for a much grander people in the world.
>> V.O. SUZANNA: Let's find out more about the natural environment of Latin America.
>> V.O. PIERRE: This is our next stop, the National Museum of Natural History.
>> SUZANNA: This museum has specimens on display from all over Latin America.
>> PIERRE: I like that one better though.
>> SUZANNA: That one's really big, oh my gosh! A wedding gift? Can you imagine?
>> V.O. SUZANNA: Behind the scenes, this museum's study collections represent much of the bio
diversity of Central and South America.
>> PIERRE: Hey, are you Pedro Acevedo?
>> PEDRO: Yes I am. Hi, I'm a botanist here at the Museum of Natural History. And this
is the kind of work that I do almost everyday. It is based on collections that we made all
over the world.
>> SUZANNA: How do you go about collecting these specimens?
>> V.O. PEDRO: It's a lot of fun being out in the field. My work took me to South America
and many different places. One of the main areas where I study is in the Caribbean. I
study the plants of the Caribbean. You know this is an area that has been studied for
centuries but still every time we go back we find new things.
>> PEDRO: As an example this is a collection that was reported for Puerto Rico more than
a hundred years ago and never was recollected until recently. We were about to leave, when
I stopped to tie my shoe on the corner of the trail and I look at the, the light was
hitting this plant and I say wait a minute this is not the one that has been reported
for this forest and when I took and it was something that was reported over a hundred
>> SUZANNA: Wow!
>> PEDRO: Well you know you get all this kind of surprises and thrill when you go into the
field you never know what you're going to find.
>> PIERRE: OK
>> V.O. PEDRO: And its pretty neat visiting these forests and ecosystems is you know many
of the areas are disappearing there every year, are being cut down. I've been in places
that I visited 20 years ago and now they're fields. So in a way this helps protect forests
knowing what's in there, and is a tool that we can use to protect this ecosystems. So
I hope that you have enjoyed your visit here today.
>> PIERRE: Oh yeah!
>> PEDRO: And it's been great to share my research with you guys.
>> PIERRE: Nice meeting you.
>> PEDRO: Same
>> SUZANNA: Thank you very much!
>> PEDRO: You're welcome for everything, pleasure.
>> V.O. SUZANNA: We visited the National Portrait Gallery.
>> V.O. SUZANNA: And the Smithsonian American Art Museum
>> PIERRE: Jesœs Moroles made this.
>> SUZANNA: How do you think he made it? Because he had to go through like all the way.
>> PIERRE: I don't know.
>> SUZANNA: It's like when you're up close you don't really know what it is, and so have
to walk away.
>> PIERRE: Yeah? A different perspective. Oh yeah you can see so much clearer what's
>> VIRGINIA: Hi! I'm Virginia Mecklenburg, one of the Senior Curators here at American
Art. Welcome to the Luce Foundation Center!
>> PIERRE: Thank you.
>> VIRGINIA: This is a special part of the museum where we're able to show the public
more than 3,000 artworks that don't fit in the galleries. Come on, let me show you.
>> SUZANNA: I really wanted to see these statues, I've heard so much about them.
>> VIRGINIA: They're wonderful aren't they? They're called Santos. The ones here were
carved by local carvers in Puerto Rico.
>> V.O. VIRGINIA: Puerto Rico was a very mountainous country so back in the 19th Century when there
weren't very many roads, people had a hard time going to church. So they had Santos like
this in their homes. So they could do Private Devotion.
>> V.O. PIERRE: They are so lifelike.
>> V.O. SUZANNA: How did these statues come to be here?
>> V.O. VIRGINIA: A remarkable businessman in Puerto Rica, Mr. Teodoro Vidal, was concerned
that they were being lost. So he began collecting and preserving them. And if you'd like to
see some more, we have another group on the second floor.
>> PIERRE: Oh hey there's the VAQUERO piece by Luis JimŽnez.
>> SUZANNA: Oh cool!
>> V.O. PIERRE: I think it's pretty awesome to see a Latino artist making such a strong
>> V.O PIERRE: Next we visited the National Museum of American History.
>> V.O PIERRE: The museum examines what it means to be an American, and of course, that
includes the stories of many Latinos. Oh, this is about the Mexican American War.
>> V.O. SUZANNA: Yeah, it says after the war, Mexico ceded California and much of the Southwest
to the United States.
>> PIERRE: That's right! In February, 1848, many Mexicans woke up the next day to find
out they were now American citizens, whether they liked it or not. I guess.
>> SUZANNA: It's like, they didn't cross the border, the border crossed them!
>> PIERRE: Yeah, I wonder what that must've felt like?
>> MAGDELENA: Hi there. We have a cart here full of objects that people might have brought
from Latin America when immigrating to the United States.
>> PIERRE: What are these?
>> MAGDELENA: These are called Huaraches they are sandals made out of tire and they might
have been worn my men walking all the way through Guatemala and Mexico to come to the
United States back in the Forties and Fifties.
>> SUZANNA: Could they have been worn by someone working agriculture?
>> MAGDELENA: Yes actually, we have an image here that shows some of the men wearing the
>> PIERRE: Oh, this is about the Bracero program. Mexicans who were invited to the United States
to work on farms.
>> V.O. MAGDELENA: Yes, the program started in 1942, and it brought about 3 million people
from Mexico to work here mainly in California. They worked incredibly long days and for very
>> SUZANNA: That sounds terrible! What's the story behind this piece?
>> V.O. MAGDELENA: This is called EL CORTITO, the short handle hoe. And it was used by men
in the fields.
>> V.O. PIERRE: It must have been backbreaking labor to bend over all day with such a short
>> SUZANNA: When did this program end?
>> MAGDELENA: The program ended in 1964, and it was then that The Cortito was abolished
thanks to the efforts of CŽsar Ch‡vez and Dolores Huerta who created the United Farmworkers
Union and they advocated for rights for the farm workers.
>> V.O. SUZANNA: Before we headed home we got to see some of the many Latino contributions
to popular culture.
>> SUZANNA: Here's Celia Cruz's dress. She was known as THE QUEEN OF SALSA.
>> PIERRE: And here is Roberto Clemente's uniform. Not only did he break barriers for
Latino ball players, but he was also a philanthropist.
>> SUZANNA: Here's Crazy Leg's jacket. He was one of the founders of breakdancing. All
these people are Latinos who came from different backgrounds.
>> PIERRE: And, just like all the people we met here at the Smithsonian, they all made
huge contributions to our country.
>> SUZANNA: I think it's great to see the Latino experience on view.
>> PIERRE: And I'm sure there's many more stories just waiting to be told!
>> SUZANNA: Definitely!