Dakota Elders Put Ceremonial Burning of “Scaffold” Wood on Hold to Build Consensus

Here is the latest update on Scaffold, released June 5 on behalf of the Dakota elders:

The wood has been taken off the “Scaffold” structure by Straightline Construction led by Dakota construction workers. who worked over the weekend. All of the wood has been removed, and placed in rolloff bins that will be taken off site to a safe, secure location owned by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. The rest of the deconstruction work will be completed by a local company to take out the steel and the concrete. The steel will be recycled.
The process of taking the rolloff bins off site began this afternoon.
The signs are taken off the fences and those who made them can request them back. (American Indian Center)
The main focus was to get the structure down.Now the main focus will shift to what happens to the wood.
Recognizing that more people from the Dakota community wish to participate in this process and it takes time to call a meeting, there is no elder meeting this week regarding the next steps for the wood. They wish to take time, slow down and allow more voices.
Until the larger Dakota Oyate is able to meet, there will be no actions except to keep the wood stored in a safe, secure location owned by Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
Therefore,
1) there is no formal ceremony at Fort Snelling this week.
2) there is no formal burning of the wood from the sculpture this week.
In the end, the elders may decide that the wood should not go to Fort Snelling, The elders may decide that the wood from the sculpture should not be burned and instead should be used/disposed in some other way. Or they may choose to proceed. But this decision will be made it their way and their time at the site of their choosing.

The Dakota Oyate from Minnesota and those in exile seek an opportunity to weigh in and make decisions in an attempt to create participation first and to then build consensus.

Continue reading

Please Attend Ceremonial Deconstruction of “Scaffold” at the Walker Sculpture Garden, Friday at 2 p.m.

A news conference at the Walker Art Center announcing the removal of the sculpture “Scaffold” was well attended by local media.

The controversial outdoor sculpture “Scaffold” will start being disassembled on Friday, according to a joint statement by Dakota elders, representatives of the Walker Art Center and the artist who created the work. It was part of a  mediation agreement, announced today.

The sculpture was to be part of the upcoming Grand Reopening of the Sculpture Garden, but it was quickly engulfed in controversy. The artwork depicts several historic gallows, most prominently the gallows used to hang 38 Dakota men in Mankato in 1862. Neither the artist nor the Walker thought to ask Dakota people for their reaction.  When the sculpture started going up, that reaction came fast and strong.

Please join the ceremonial start of the deconstruction, Friday at 2 p.m. at the Sculpture Garden. It is a large sculpture and it will take four days to remove it completely. The wood will be taken to the Fort Snelling area where there will be a ceremonial burning. That date is yet to be announced.

The Fort Snelling area has great significance to the Dakota people, with both positive and negative reasons. Fort Snelling sits at Bdote, the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, the area central to the Dakota origin story. It also is the site where Dakota women, children and elders were held during the winter of 1862-63 following the Dakota-U.S. War. Hundreds died there.

The artist, Sam Durant, has turned over all intellectual property rights to the sculpture to the Dakota people, and promised never to replicate it.

This is a first in a series of blogs on today’s news conference. For the full statement that came out of mediation, keep reading. Continue reading

Walker Delays Sculpture Garden Reopening, Leaving Space for Mediation with Dakota Elders

This statement from Olga Viso, Walker Art Center Executive Director, and Jayne Miller, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent was released this afternoon:

Out of respect for the process of mediation and resolution that is yet to unfold, the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announce today the official re-opening for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden will be postponed until Saturday, June 10, 2017. Both partners agree that this is the most appropriate course of action to honor the dialogue that is underway between Dakota Elders, the Walker, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and artist Sam Durant regarding the sculpture Scaffold in the Garden.

A private mediation with a group of Dakota Elders is planned for the morning of Wednesday, May 31, 2017, with leaders from the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, City of Minneapolis, and the artist and his representatives. In advance of this mediation, Dakota Elders will be meeting with a broader cross-section of the Dakota community on Tuesday evening. This meeting is being organized by Dakota Elders and will inform the mediation process.  …

Dakota Elders leading the mediation process have respectfully asked that others who feel allied in this endeavor, but who are not Dakota, or whom may represent other communities across the state and region, to please be patient and respect the process that is currently underway. There is concern from all parties involved in the mediation process that pre-emptive actions in advance of these discussions would be counterproductive.

A public statement at 2 pm on Wednesday, May 31, will provide an update on the status of the mediation.

Dakota Elders Call Dakota Community Meeting to Discuss Walker Art Center’s “Scaffold” Sculpture

DAKOTA OYATE
Dakota Elders Announcement

On Tuesday 7:00 PM May 30, 2017 all Dakota traditional spiritual elders are invited to meet to discuss how to respond to the “Scaffold” sculpture that is currently under construction by Walker Art Center on Minneapolis Park and Recreation Land in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The intent of the Elder meeting is to share the information about the structure, to hear a timely written update from the Walker Art Center, and to make decisions about the priorities for next steps for the structure, specifically:

  1. Elders’ wishes regarding the structure
  2. who will be in the working group to plan a ceremony
  3. how to involve the Dakota community including the youth as well as Native artists in this historic event, and future discussions of the important role that art plays in truth-telling
  4. which twelve Elders are available/willing to attend the first face to face meeting with the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Minneapolis administrator and the artist, Sam Durant, on Wednesday May 31.

All Dakota are encouraged and invited to respond with their insights in this process. This is an opportunity for parents to engage the children in learning about their history and for the students and professions to use their position to help share our truth, our history. Because of the quick timing of this first meeting and the fact that many Dakota cannot travel to this meeting, you may send/share your response to an Elder who will carry that intention forward in prayer to the meeting.

This Elder meeting will be open to all Dakota elders on Tuesday May 30th 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at All My Relations Gallery, 1414 Franklin Ave Minneapolis Minnesota. We welcome all Dakota who come with a good heart, with respect for the ancestors, the elders, our traditional ways and our Sacred sites for the opening prayer and announcements. No press please. This is only the first of many meetings to help create a process of healing and to help educate through Dakota truth-telling of our own history.

The next step will be the face-to-face meeting of Dakota spiritual and traditional elders with the related parties Wednesday morning 9:30 to 12:30 to discuss next steps, followed by a joint press announcement at 2 PM of any logistic decisions made. Recognizing that the presence of the sculpture is very volatile to our community, that timeliness and participation by all related parties is very important, the focus of this part of the mediation process will be discussing the logistics. Broader education for the staff and public will come later. The Walker Art Center and Park Board has agreed to push back the Grand Opening of the sculpture garden until Saturday June 10 to allow for more attention to this process and for good faith efforts at dialogue by all parties.

We call upon all Dakota to pray for wisdom and for healing. We request that all press wait for the joint announcement on Wednesday after our private mediation meeting rather than seeking individual statements from our community. We ask all non-Dakota allies to not take action on our behalf; please respectfully allow us space to conduct our process in our way and timing, that we may heal.

Pidamayayedo

Walker Art Center Will Remove Scaffold Sculpture, Dialogue with Dakota Elders to Proceed

This statement just in from Olga Viso, Executive Director of the Walker Art Center

Scaffold sculpture will be removed from new Sculpture Garden.

Because we are keenly aware of how important the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is to the community, city and state, we have been taking the public response over the last 24 hours very seriously.

The responses have overwhelmingly conveyed and expressed anger and sadness that Scaffold has caused the Dakota community and beyond.

As the Executive Director of the Walker, I regret the pain that this artwork has brought to the Dakota community and others.

Prompted by the outpouring of community feedback, the artist Sam Durant is open to many outcomes including the removal of the sculpture.  He has told me, “It’s just wood and metal – nothing compared to the lives and histories of the Dakota people.”

I am in agreement with the artist that the best way to move forward is to have Scaffold dismantled in some manner and to listen and learn from the Elders.  The details of how and when will be determined by Traditional Spiritual Dakota Elders at a meeting scheduled with the Walker and the artist on Wednesday, May 31 with the support of a mediator selected by the Elders.  This is the first step in a long process of healing.

We will continue listening and communicating to the public as plans develop in partnership with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.