I launched this website, CharlesLummis.com, when my biography of Lummis, American Character, was published 15 years ago. Over the years since then, the site remained largely unchanged, until now. After all these years, I’ve finally gotten around to revamping it and relaunching it on WordPress. Among the new features is this “Lummis Sightings” blog, where I’ll be posting occasional items about new developments of interest to scholars and assorted aficionados of Charles Lummis. Also new is the comments section on this blog. It seems there will be a fair number of “sightings” to report about these days, amid what seems to be a growing awareness of and curiosity about one of the most colorful and influential characters in the late 19th and early 20th century Southwest.
Lummis was little known by anyone other than serious Southwestern history buffs when American Character appeared in 2001. He has become something of a cause celebre these days. Concern about the fate of the Southwest Museum, which was founded by Lummis, is one reason. It has merged with the much larger and richer Autry Museum in recent years, and much of its world-renowned collection of Native Indian artifacts has been moved to the Autry’s modern facility several miles away in Griffith Park. That has left the fate of the historic old museum in Highland Park up in the air.
Many residents of the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood have rallied around the cause of saving the old facility for special exhibits and events, even if it will no longer house the bulk of the museum’s collection. A thriving annual neighborhood festival was started more than a decade ago to help spur awareness of the museum and its precarious status, and to showcase the neighborhood’s multicultural charms. The aptly chosen name for the festival is Lummis Day. Charlie would be delighted by that.
A number of other Lummis-related ventures have recently launched or are in the works including books, major magazine articles and film projects. I’ll intermittently post here about those projects and other news related to the ongoing rediscovery of a most fascinating American character.