by Cindy Gresser, Executive Director, The Smoki Museum of American Indian Art & Culture
On Oct. 28, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., The Smoki Museum will host the annual Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead celebration.
While some people think that an event with this title is morbid and all about death, it is in fact all about life. It is a celebration of the lives of individuals and the contributions they made to their families, loved ones and their community.
Altars or ofrendas are created to honor those who have departed, and they feature a traditional variety of objects representing the four elements: candles to represent light and fire; the departed’s favorite beverage or a representation of water; papel picado or “cut paper” to represent the air; and a plant, flowers or silk flowers to represent the earth.
Photos of the dearly departed, images or actual sugar skulls, and objects that were important to them or that represent favorite memories also are often included.
Pan de Muerto, or “bread of the dead,” is another traditional offering, or their favorite food is placed on their altar.
Again, some view this in a negative way, however, the process of creating an altar is very often a healing process, bringing a loved one back into your memory — leaving the past behind, keeping them as a part of your ongoing life.
Day of the Dead is filled with music from mariachis, ballet folklorico, Aztec dancers, traditional food and drink, the children of La Tierra Community School, the procession into Yavapai Citizens Cemetery and usually even some belly dancers!
Alianaza Foundation, Sister City Caborca and many other community partners help us with this delightful event. Children can make sugar skulls, paper flowers and more at our children’s craft area.
At The Smoki Museum, we understand that cultures and people do not always stay within international borders. The land of Arizona was once part of the country of Mexico, and celebrations can be shared by many, as long as there is respect for them.
Altar space is available in The Smoki Museum Pueblo Building starting Oct. 22.
Altar applications, along with guidelines, are available at smokimuseum.org. Altar space and entry to the Day of the Dead are free.
Please join us for this unique event in the rear parking lot of The Smoki Museum. It’s a party, and we hope you will join us on Oct. 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.