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Exploring the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian

Located in Evanston, the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is a testament to the deeply entrenched histories and cultures of North American indigenous peoples. For Optima Verdana® and Optima Lakeview® residents, the museum is a treasure trove, making it an ideal destination for a weekend visit or a day of exploration.

At its core, the museum is a dedicated guardian of indigenous cultures, dedicated to preserving the stories, arts, and traditions of the diverse cultures that make up North America’s historical fabric. 

The museum boasts an impressive collection, with artifacts from the Paleo-Indian period to present day. This vast arc of time provides an educational experience for visitors of all ages. For children, it’s a unique opportunity to connect with rich histories through hands-on exhibits, such as the full-sized birchbark canoe in the Woodlands Gallery, that offer tactile experiences that make learning immersive and engaging. Meanwhile, adults can appreciate the deeper nuances and intricate details of indigenous artistry and traditions across various tribes and regions.

Birchbark canoe in the Woodlands Gallery. Photo: Central Street Evanston

As with all great museums, there’s joy and discovery in visiting often. Its collections, encompassing regions from the Woodlands to the Arctic, ensure there’s always something new to discover. whether you’re captivated by the beadwork designs of the Plains or the stone carvings from the Arctic.

The museum is a place to connect, understand, and appreciate a vital part of America’s heritage. With its mix of education, preservation, and continuous innovation, it stands out as a vital cultural destination for all. The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, is open Monday-Friday from 10am-5pm and Saturday from 10am-3pm. For ticket information, click here.

Great Writers Series: Mary Hunter Austin

The enchanting beauty and rich cultural history of the Southwest, where some of our properties are located, serves as a constant source of inspiration. As part of our new “Great Writers” series, we take immense joy in celebrating individuals whose contributions have cast a lasting glow on the Southwest, mirroring its radiant sunsets. Today, our spotlight is on Mary Hunter Austin, a writer whose connection to the land weaves through her work, reflecting the soul of the Southwest.

Monument Valley West. Photo: 45SURF Hero's Odyssey Mythology Photography
Monument Valley West. Photo: 45SURF Hero’s Odyssey Mythology Photography

Mary Hunter Austin, born in 1868, spent her life deeply immersed in the exploration and interpretation of the American Southwest’s landscapes. Her passion resonates strongly with us at Optima®, as we see our residents similarly captivated by the extraordinary vistas and cultural richness inherent to Optima Sonoran Village® and Optima Kierland Apartments® properties.

Sonoran Desert Landscape
Sonoran Desert Landscape. Photo: Bureau of Land Management Arizona

Austin’s acclaimed work, “The Land of Little Rain,” transcends conventional narratives, encapsulating the raw and compelling beauty of the Mojave Desert. In this collection of essays, Austin captured the intricacies of desert life — the flora, the fauna, and the Native American cultures — with a poet’s eye and a naturalist’s precision.

Optima Sonoran Village
Optima Sonoran Village
The Land of Little Rain
The Land of Little Rain

In addition to her descriptions of nature, Austin’s work reflected her strong sense of social justice, particularly related to Native American culture, women’s rights, and environmental conservation. In her writing, we see the Southwest not just as a backdrop, but as an active participant in the lives of the people who inhabit it. It is this vibrant, interconnected community that Austin so cherished, and that we are privileged to be a part of.

Delving deeper into Mary’s writings, we find a profound understanding and respect for the forces that shape the Southwest. Her observations were not passive; they formed the groundwork for a vibrant dialogue between humanity and the environment. Austin didn’t merely write about the Southwest — she engaged with it, championed it, and ultimately became one of its most influential advocates.

The Land of Journey's Ending
The Land of Journey’s Ending

At Optima®, we are inspired by Austin’s deep connection to the Southwest. Her detailed and vibrant narratives serve as a testament to the beauty of the region, reminding us of the power of truly getting to know a land and the importance of fostering a harmonious relationship with it. Through this shared love of these lands we find ourselves forever inspired, and captivated, deeply aware that we are not just creating buildings, but crafting experiences that resonate with the vibrant spirit of the American Southwest — a spirit so eloquently portrayed in Austin’s works.

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