The Cultural Heritage Center staff has finished the renovation of the “Seven Fires” exhibit. The new exhibit is updated and allows for 360 degree accessibility and additional details. The “Seven Fires” exhibit portrays the Seven Fires Prophecy and is part of the Citizen Potawatomi oral culture.
“Previously the ’Seven Fires’ exhibit was in the corner and not accessible; we’ve moved it to allow people 360 degree access and to better represent an important part of our oral history,” said Kelli Mosteller, Director of the Cultural Heritage Center.
The prophecy describes a turbulent time in Potawatomi history when the tribe was visited by seven prophets, and it’s telling has helped the Potawatomi people understand who they were in the past, are in the present and will be in the future.
The staff redesigned the vignette to depict representatives from each Neshnabek nation (Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi) and illustrates the councils held amongst the nation to discuss the Fires and their inherent meanings.
“We decided to change the exhibit, because of the importance of the story and that it is a fixture in Potawatomi/Neshnabek culture and history,” said Blake Norton, archivist, Cultural Heritage Center. “It needed to be exhibited in full detail, so as to convey its significance to our tribal members and patrons. The old exhibit simply fell short of that.”
The story states that the people were visited by seven prophets, each with a respective fire. The new clothing seen in the revised exhibit serves as time and historical marker, illustrating how the people were changing as the prophecies were delivered over the course of several years. The vignette will be supplemented by text, interactive displays and associated artifacts, holistically explaining the oral story and history in detail.
The exhibit was created by Cultural Heritage Center staff and tribal members. Penny Coates hand painted the faces of the mannequins, Gayla Mosteller created the clothing, and Blake Norton created the hair, wrapping and jewelry.
“I really enjoyed the challenge of working on these mannequins,” said Gayla Mosteller. “They do not bend and move like the ones I previously worked on for the removal exhibit. While it was more difficult having to hand sew the clothing onto the mannequins, it was even more rewarding to see how great they looked in the end. They really came to life.”
Photo–Gayla Mosteller works on the clothes for the mannequins of the Seven Fires exhibit