Dakota Elders Calling on the Walker Art Center to Create an American Indian Advisory Council

“Scaffold” sculpture was removed from the Walker Sculpture Garden.

Dialogue continues between the Dakota Community and the Walker Art Center as a follow-up to the controversy over — and ultimate removal of — the sculpture Scaffold. In this next phase, Dakota elders are calling on the Walker to create an American Indian Advisory Council as a permanent part of its healing work.

The following was posted on the Minnesota Indian List Serve by Ronald P. Leith, the designated spokesperson for the Dakota Nation’s Elders Council. (Leith is a Red Lake Nation/Mdewakantowan Dakota Lineal Descendant.)

Walker Art Center, Dakota Elders & Indian Community Conference for Reconciliation

Date: November 30, 2017
Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Place: Norway House, 913 East Franklin Ave., Mpls.

Since the dismantling of the Walker Art Center scaffold structure the Dakota Elders Council, along with the support of the Walker Art Center, has worked to remove and obliterate the wood that was used to construct the scaffold.  This process is now coming to a end.

The Dakota Elders are now taking this opportunity to lead  the process of reconstructing a damaged relationship between the Walker Art Center and the Dakota Community in particular and the Indian community in general.

The Elders Council has [said] several items they would like to present … reconciliation opportunities.  One of which is the establishment of an American Indian Advisory Council to serve as permanent component to the WAC organizational infrastructure.

At this meeting the Dakota Elders Council will be calling for nominations for this advisory council.

This meeting will be facilitated  by Stephanie Hope Smith WAC/DEC mediator and Winona LaDuke, Executive Director, Honor The Earth.


Opening Prayer: Art Owen, Spiritual Leader

Participant Introductions:

Opening comments: Ron Leith, Spokesman, Dakota Elders Council; Olga Viso, Executive Director, Walker Art Center; Vanessa Goodthunder, Office of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton

Suggested talking points:

1.) What changes can be made in order to establish a viable communication network between the Indian  community and Walker Art Center?

2.) How can this network become a sustainable system by which both the Indian Community and Walker Art Center continue to work together for systemic change?

3.) Who is to be a working member of this network in order to bring about change?

4.) Recommendations for an advisory council to Walker Art Center?

5.) How will this council play an effective role in bringing about positive change?

6.)  If the goal is to bring about positive change who is going to take responsibility for achieving effective outcomes?

7.) What are the goals for this process according to the needs and capabilities of Walker Art Center, Indian community, and the Dakota Elders Council?

8.) Conclusions/Next Steps



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