Native American decolonization exhibit opens Saturday – The North Wind
The Beaumier UP Heritage Center will open a new exhibit focused on Native American tribes today and the revitalization of their culture and customs.
On October 9, “The Seventh Fire: A Decolonizing Experience” will be a multimedia exhibit showcasing modern life and experiences from the perspective of people from Native American communities such as tribal elders, Anishinaabe historians and scholars, students. and teachers. The exhibit will feature interviews with these diverse community members touching on decolonization as well as cultural aspects such as food, language and education. It will also feature a timeline of the history of the Anishinaabe people and space for visitors to gather and discuss their reactions and thoughts.
Heritage Center director and curator Dan Truckey was originally responsible for coordinating the design and research for the exhibit. It also brought together the planning committee made up of the Center for Native American Studies, the Native American Students Association, the Great Lakes Peace Center, and the Northern Michigan Episcopal Diocese.
The idea for a Native American-themed exhibit, Truckey said, had been on the table for some time. If the Heritage Center made one, they said they wanted it to be in the words of the Anishinaabe people.
“I think this will have special meaning for people who want to learn more about the history and perspective of the Anishinaabe,” Truckey said. “Ultimately, however, I think it would have a big impact even on those who don’t share the same values as the Anishinaabe.”
The title of the exhibit refers to the prophecies of the Seven Fires of the Anishinaabe and how the last prediction said there would be a rebirth among their people. Many believe that this prophecy refers to the current period of history and the goal of decolonization. Decolonization, Truckey said, is essentially a “refocusing of Anishinaabe life on their traditional way of life, spirituality and other aspects of their culture.”
Local faith-based community organizations, such as the Episcopal Diocese, were looking for ways to open a dialogue with indigenous communities, said April Lindala, a professor of Native American studies and one of the interviewees for the exhibit. They started discussing ideas with the heritage center on how to create an exhibit that could help the audience learn and perhaps experience a shift in mindset.
Museum exhibits often showed Native Americans and their ways of life as in the past, objects to be examined and slowly disappearing, Lindala said. This is called salvage ethnography.
“It is of tremendous value to study and learn about history from multiple perspectives,” said Lindala. “The timing of this exhibit comes at a distinct historical moment when the representation of Indigenous peoples has propelled itself into the media in the United States and Canada with the announcement of the Anonymous Graves on boarding school sites as well as to popular media offers such as “Booking Dogs on Hulu.
This exposure could not only lead to a shift in mindset like what was intended, but could also lead to more potential students in the department, said Martin Reinhardt, another professor of Native American studies and head of the department.
“It was a great experience working with Dan Truckey and the staff of the Beaumier Heritage Center on this exhibit. I believe this will have a positive impact on Indigenous / non-Indigenous relationships in our community and encourage people to learn more, ”said Reinhardt. “That way we might see some of these visitors in our Native American studies classes. “
This is a unique exhibit that aims to both inform and encourage reaction, Reinhardt said.
“The content includes many important historical and contemporary issues, policies and initiatives. Most importantly, it showcases Indigenous voices, ”said Reinhardt. “Colonization is an act of oppression. Decolonization is an act of healing for both the oppressor and the oppressed. We can’t really heal without addressing both.
One of the current students in the department is Reese Carter, a junior double major in Illustration and Native American Studies. He also helped with the graphic design of the exhibition, making some clan animal graphics, decorative elements, four watercolors and designed the Land Recognition Sign, a sign that recognizes Marquette’s land as being of Native American origin, which will be unveiled. October 11.
“I’ve never had a job like this before, and it was really cool to get a taste of what it’s like to do graphic design work and everything,” Carter said. “It was really intimidating because Indigenous identity is such a complex subject, and it’s not something that I would like to twist in any way, because although I am a descendant of the Anishinaabe people, I don’t am not native myself.
Carter said the exhibit will be a unique and emotional experience for those who attend.
“With more and more people interested and passionate about keeping their teachings, languages, arts and lifestyles alive with each passing day and this exhibition, for me, reflects that,” said Carter. “I don’t think we could have had an exhibit like this before now, because until recently even the word ‘decolonize’ was a scary word to a lot of people who didn’t know what it meant.”
The exhibition will be held in the Gries Hall gallery and will be open until April 9, 2022. Admission will be free and the exhibition will be open from 10 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday and from noon to 4 pm on Saturday . Truckey also added that although the exhibition has opening hours during the day, special evenings can be arranged for groups of students who give advance notice.