Two years ago, Terry Mote traveled from his home in Enid, Oklahoma, to the Field Museum as part of a contingent of Marshall Island expatriates tapped to assist curators in developing a new exhibit about their homeland.
As Mote combed through the Field’s collection of artifacts related to the Pacific Island nation, he came across a photo of an unidentified schoolgirl dating back to the 1940s. The child in the short-sleeved dress, who’d managed a tentative smile as she looked into the camera of a visiting Field anthropologist, would be an elderly woman now, but Mote recognized her instantly.
“That’s my mom,” Mote said. “My younger sister looks just like her.”
Ryan Schuessler, an exhibition developer at the Field, would later travel to Enid to surprise a tearful Mojina Jinuna Mote with a copy of the image, which she recalled posing for but had never seen. A photo of Mote in the present day, clutching the picture of her younger self, was incorporated into the Field’s display, alongside the original from 1947.
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