Monday, November 24, 2014

Project examining Route 66 effect on Native Americans

A van with a tour group passes through Route 66 in San Bernardino County. (Kurt Miller)

by David Olson
Riverside Press-Enterprise

Route 66 is probably the most iconic road in the nation, but few of the tourists and other travelers who drive it likely know very much about the original residents of the land they’re passing through.

A new initiative from the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association aims to change that with a guidebook that will steer visitors toward Native American cultural sites and educate them about Route 66’s effect on American Indian life.

Route 66 passes through San Bernardino County in its 2,400-mile journey from Chicago to Los Angeles, and a meeting with Southern California tribes on their possible involvement in the project is expected in January 2015, said Rachel Cromer, a spokeswoman for the tourism association.

“This is a part of the Route 66 story that hasn’t been told yet,” Cromer said. “We hope this will draw new visitors and allow people who have traveled Route 66 to experience it in a new way.”

The National Park Service is helping fund the project.

Many Americans and foreign tourists have a Hollywood-movie view of Indians as living in teepees, wearing headdresses and riding horses, said Virginia Salazar-Halfmoon, coordinator of the project.

Here in the Inland area, among the best-known Route 66 attractions is the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, which features teepee-shaped rooms.

Yet Southern California Indians did not live in teepees, which were used by some Plains Indians.

Salazar-Halfmoon said the guidebook will help dispel the teepee myth and other stereotypes and generalizations.

“There are 27-plus tribes that exist along Route 66, and many people don’t realize they have distinct cultural heritages that they hold on to tenaciously,” she said. “If people knew more about the tribes, they would be more aware of the distinct cultural heritages that exist and would probably have a more enriched experience on Route 66.”

Route 66 had a major impact on Native Americans’ lives, Salazar-Halfmoon said. For example, the road was used to transport many Native American kids to Indian boarding schools, she said. The federal government set up the schools, which were aimed not only at teaching educational basics to Indian children but also at eradicating Indian culture.

Route 66 also had positive effects on tribes, Salazar-Halfmoon said. The road created a larger market for Indian arts and crafts and exposed more people to Native American culture, she said. Artisans set up stands and trading posts at the side of Route 66 to sell their goods.

“Because of Route 66, they didn’t have to leave home” to sell their products, she said.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Get on board for Harvey House history

Veterans Day: 'Troops and Trains' event to showcase World War II photos

Lawrence Dale, right, and Carol Randall, the chair for the Barstow Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee, check out two of the photos that will be on display at the Harvey House on Tuesday for the Troops and Trains event.

Victorville Daily Press

BARSTOW — Carol Randall remembers sitting down enjoying her morning coffee and watching CNN.

“I noticed this older picture,” she said. “I saw this old photo of troops getting on a train, and I said, holy Mike! So I started some research and found out we had a tremendous amount of troop trains come through here (Harvey House in Barstow) during World War II. And they stopped here for coffee and doughnuts and went on to port to be shipped off to the war theater.”

That was six months ago, according to the chair of Barstow Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee. Randall says she’s a planner. So she began planning for a Harvey House event.

“I thought, my goodness, there’s more history we have failed to get out to the community. One more reason to love this old lady (Harvey House),” she said. “So I called my buddy (Lawrence Dale, former mayor of Barstow and on the committee), and I said, ‘what do you think about this?’ And he said ‘I like it.’ ”

Randall presented an idea to the committee and that is how a new Harvey House event, “Troops and Trains” was born, according to Randall.

The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Harvey House, 681 N. First Ave., from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday to help observe Veterans Day.

“We started very small. Simply coffee and doughnuts, a little music and some pictures,” Randall said. “I said, ‘Lawrence, can you dig up some pictures?’ If you ever need some pictures, send Lawrence.”

Dale took a trip to a rail museum in Topeka, Kansas. The museum donated several pictures to Barstow’s new event. The pictures will be displayed throughout the ballroom at the Harvey House. Also, Randall said all military veterans are invited. She said a couple veterans from World War II have been invited to share their stories too.

Besides other displays, 1950s music will be performed by the Ken Courtney Jazz ensemble. Doughnuts, like the ones that were served to the troops, and sandwiches will be served.

Randall says the display of photos will remain at the Harvey House throughout the week to allow for students from the surrounding schools to visit.

Friday, November 7, 2014

San Bernardino County Museum needs better leadership, says report

A report says that the San Bernardino County Museum must make substantial changes — including to its leadership — in order to sustain itself for the future. (staff file photo)

By Kristina Hernandez
Redlands Daily Facts

REDLANDS >> A report released Friday says the San Bernardino County Museum must make significant changes to be able to sustain itself for the future, starting with its leadership.

The report, which was conducted by San Francisco-based Museum Management Consultants, Inc., lays out a number of recommendations the museum can make to increase revenue, attendance and its overall structure by hiring a director that has a curatorial background and experience capable of looking into the “business side of operations.”

“(The museum’s) next director will lead an organization with significant challenges and tremendous potential for growth. It will be crucial to find the right candidate with the expertise and energy required to take on these challenges and leverage opportunities,” the report reads. “As such, MMC strongly recommends engaging an objective third party with experience in recruiting leaders for cultural organizations to conduct the search.”

Between 1996 and 2001, the museum saw four directors come on board before appointing Robert McKernan to the position in 2002. McKernan, who was a curator before being appointed interim director, left the museum in April and left “many advocates of the museum concerned for SBCM’s future without a director during a time,” the report said.

The museum’s reputation for its “problematic leadership” was first noted in an American Alliance of Museums accreditation visit report conducted in 2002. It said that McKernan’s leadership provided the museum with a stabilizing force after a period of volatility and that he had the trust of the museum’s staff and the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

But the report says that over the years, the museum’s staff reported that McKernan had “lost focus” and described the longtime director as more “curator centric” — not paying much attention to the museum’s public or business sides.

MMC also recommended the museum focus on a strategic plan similar to one developed in the early 2000s and lay out a detailed vision and goals for the museum, along with measurable steps to achieve them.

“The same issues exist today as they did 10 years ago, with the addition of new challenges that have brought the museum to a crisis point,” the report said.

In addition to creating an updated strategic plan and addressing leadership problems, the museum will need to pass an upcoming re-accreditation visit from the American Alliance of Museums that is to be conducted in 2017.

The museum also needs to strengthen its relationship with the board of supervisors, the report recommends. That would mean allowing the museum’s Association to have a bigger voice in maintaining the venue’s operations. Currently, the museum is overseen by the board of supervisors because they “felt reluctant to hand over too much authority to an independent board” which would be the current San Bernardino County Museum Advisory Commission.

The commission, the report said, was established as the liaison between the Board of Supervisors to “provide advice and assistance to the board with regard to museum matters” and would also have a say in what would happen at the museum’s off-sites, including the Victor Valley Museum in the high desert.

MMC recommends disbanding the commission and allowing members to be a part of the association so it can establish itself as an authoritative figure and engage in more fundraising opportunities for the museum.

To do so, the report recommended the association grow to 25 to 30 members based on “specific criteria for selection, including the ability to raise funds.”

The report also laid out recommended structure for the museum’s staffing and asked the education venue to look into its hours of operations to see if it was actually serving all possible demographics, including school tours, and develop programs that actually work and cancel those that don’t.

The report also noted that the museum’s current interim director, Leonard Hernandez, has already made significant changes to the museum’s structure, including the re-organization of staff and the installation of the temporary “Fossils Underfoot” exhibit in the Hall of Geological Wonders.

But for the Hall to contribute to the financial stability of the museum, the Hall must be completed and new interactive exhibits must be installed.

“MMC believes the current approach in phases is a realistic solution in the short-term, but opening the full experience should be a top priority in order to revive the visitor experience, increase attendance and prepare the museum for reaccreditation,” the report said. “MMC believes that monetary support of (a) Hall capital campaign would be a worthy investment for the county to consider, and might instill confidence in other potential donors to help complete the campaign.”

MMC was hired by the county in June to conduct the assessment of the museum’s operations and report its findings to the board of supervisors, who will review the report and discuss its findings in the future.

The report cost the county $75,000 to complete, said Felisa Cardona, a deputy information officer for the county.