Shakopee Mdewakanton Weigh In On Capitol Art; Upcoming Talks on Fort Marion Imprisonment and Local Dakota Issues

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has sent a letter to the state staking out its position regarding the State Capitol renovation and what should be done with controversial pieces of art. In summary, the Dec. 22 letter from Tribal Chairman Charlie Vig asks the state to:

  • Remove the painting of Father Hennepin “discovering” St. Anthony Falls,
  • Provide an accurate narrative and description with the painting of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, the Attack on New Ulm, and the Eighth Minnesota at the Battle of Ta-Ha-Kouty (Killdeer Mountain)

The letter concludes saying:

We would also urge you to consider including a Dakota perspective in the crafting of the narratives and descriptions for the three paintings referenced above. We cannot emphasize enough our view that all of the narratives and descriptions must recount the Dakota experience from the Dakota perspective in order to provide a fuller understanding of the events themselves and a truer telling of Minnesota’s history.

You can read the full Shakopee letter here. For more information on this issue, see our Capitol Art page.

The Art Subcommittee of the Minnesota State Capitol Preservation Commission  meets again on Monday, Jan. 11, to continue working on its preliminary recommendations, due out later this month. The meeting is 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the Minnesota Judicial Center (east of the Capitol), room 305.

ReRiding History: A Talk at All My Relations Gallery

Visual artists Jim Denomie and Dyani White Hawk will discuss their work in conjunction with Re-Riding History the exhibition on view at All My Relations Arts. The event is Thursday, January 14, 7-8 p.m. at the Gallery, 1414 East Franklin Avenue. Light refreshments served.

An example of Kiowa ledger art (1874) possibly showing a battle from the Red River wars. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
An example of Kiowa ledger art (1874) possibly showing a battle from the Red River wars. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

White Hawk and Denomie join 70 artists who were invited to respond to the history of the 1875-1878 Fort Marion Imprisonments. Fort Marion in Florida was used to imprison Indians involved in the so-called Red River Wars in Oklahoma and Texas, according to the website Native American Net Roots. There were no trials; the United States imprisoned both Indian leaders as well as randomly picked young men.

Lt. Richard Pratt was the Prison Commander; his goals included assimilating the Indians through western education. The year after leaving Fort Marion, he founded the Carlisle School, which became the model for Indian boarding schools.

Part of the Fort Marion legacy is prisoner-made ledger art. According to Native American Net Roots:

Pratt also encouraged the prisoners to produce works of art for sale and allowed them to visit the nearby beaches. The Indian artists used ledger books and their drawings sold for approximately $2 per book. The art in the books was often given concise, simple captions. The artists were also encouraged to sign their works as this made them more valuable to a public which was accustomed to European art.

The exhibit is on loan until March 2016. Come Thursday and hear these two acclaimed artists, Denomie and White Hawk, discuss the tradition of ledger art, the legacy of the Fort Marion imprisonments, and their own artistic practices

What Does Dakota Mean to Us? A Talk at the White Bear Center for the Arts

Neil Cantemaza McKay will be speaking on “What Does Dakota Mean to Us?” on Thursday, January 14, 7-8:30 p.m., at the White Bear Center for the Arts. McKay is Dakota and a Dakota Language Specialist in the American Indian Studies Department at the University of Minnesota. According to the Facebook posting for the event:

This is Dakota homeland, present in place names, stories, and people. Ever wonder how the bear legend would have been told by the original people? Come hear from one of the original people! Neil McKay will unlock text from a mid-19th Century Dakota newspaper, offering glimpses of Dakota history, before and after colonization, and helping to see more clearly this important facet of the community, both past and present.

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