University of Kentucky to Cover Controversial Mural; Feast of Words Event: A Dakota Language Intro

The University of Kentucky recently decided to cover up a controversial WPA mural depicting the history of Lexington, including slaves working in the fields and an Indian with a tomahawk. University President Eli Capilouto made the decision after meeting with a group of black students who asked for a meeting to let him know how they felt about the mural.

This is a relevant story for Minnesota, where we are trying to decide how to handle some of the more controversial art in our state Capitol. Healing Minnesota Stories has a petition asking for the most controversial pieces to be moved out of the Capitol into a museum where they can be interpreted. (Our petition just topped 500 signatures.)

In a news report from WKYT TV report out of Kentucky, a reporter said Capilouto compared the mural to the lyrics of Old Kentucky Home, “which were changed due to the racist nature of the lyrics.” Similarly, something needed to change with the mural, he said. One option is to move the art elsewhere. Here is a link to the mural.

In a written statement, Capilouto said:

This is but one step in a series we must take as a campus community to be the kind of welcoming and inclusive place we want to be for everyone who calls this University home. I hope that for us, this prominent artwork — what it depicts and how we address the questions it raises for so many in our community today — can help us take another step forward in our journey together toward reconciliation.

We noted in a June 28 blog that the University of Idaho made a similar decision to cover a controversial mural depicting the lynching of an Indian man. Perhaps these actions are happening first on University campuses because of our increasingly diverse youth.

On Nov. 23 MPR posted the story: Colleges, universities reconsider symbols tied to racism and slavery. Among the examples, it notes that “Students at Harvard Law School have pushed the university to make changes to its official seal, which pays homage to Isaac Royall Jr., whose family made much of its fortune through the slave trade. Royall donated his estate to the law school.”

Feast of Words: An Intro to Dakota Language

The Dakota language is the first language of Minnesota, yet few Minnesotans know the meaning of the name of their state. Come and learn about the language at the Feast of Words, Saturday, Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., at the Mill City Museum, 704 South 2nd Street in Minneapolis. The event is free but reservations are required.

This is a family event centered on this place we all call home, Mnísota (Minnesota). Learn about indigenous place names throughout the state, try local indigenous foods, learn to prepare wóžapi, a traditional Dakota berry pudding, and immerse yourself in the Dakota language. Click here for more information and to reserve your ticket. This event is presented by the Dakhóta Iápi Okhódakičhiye (Dakota Language Society) and the Healing Place Collaborative.

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