This is Minnesota Native News, I’m Marie Rock. Coming up a conversation on suicide prevention brings culture, facts, and experience together. And we hear words from the late artist, Jim Denomie, with reflections on his work. Here’s reporter, Leah Lemm with more.
The American Indian Community Housing Organization, AICHO, will host a virtual panel with four Native leaders, discussing their perspectives on Indigenous approaches to preventing suicide. Additionally, the panel will explore available resources and access to cultural and healing traditions. Luther Talks is a Cheyenne River Lakota citizen, and Minnesota Department of Health’s Tribal Suicide Prevention Coordinator. And he speaks to the need for having these discussions.
“There’s no single path that leads to suicide. Suicide is complex, and yet suicide is preventable. So what we do know in 2019 is that American Indians have the highest rate of suicide in Minnesota. The rate is 37.5 per 100,000. Suicide is the sixth leading cause of death among American Indians in Minnesota,” said Talks.
Suicide prevention is multifaceted, and the panel will explore how culture plays a role.
“Yeah, one of the strongest protective factors to prevent suicide is a sense of belonging to culture and community. Within the sense of belonging, it’s connection. Connection to language, connection to culture, connection to Indigenous knowledge, and connection to land,” said Talks.
The panel takes place on the evening of March 24th, via Zoom, more information at AICHO, AICHO.org.
If you or someone you know needs help, resources are available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, that’s 1-800-273-8255, or text the Crisis Text Line by texting, “Hello,” to 741-741.
Next, Indian Country, the art world, and beyond are remembering the life and impact of artist, Jim Denomie.
“And so I created creative ways to speak about truth and history,” said Denomie.
Jim Denomie was from the Lac Courte Oreilles Band and lived in Franconia, Minnesota. He received several awards, including the Bush Artist Fellowship and Native Arts and Cultural National Artist Fellowship. Jim Denomie spoke with Minnesota Native News in 2019 after receiving the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award. He didn’t define or describe his work. Instead, he revealed an example of how his work was influenced to speak about truth and history.
“I was in an exhibition the last few years, a traveling exhibition about these ledger drawings and the history of these imprisoned Native men who started this genre. And after I got invited to be part of that, I was aware of the ledger drawings, but I didn’t really investigate it a whole lot. And then after I was invited to participate, I did. And I realized that my work is very much the same theme as these imprisoned artists were documenting current events, and history and personal viewpoints,” said Denomie.
Some of the most famous ledger art was created in Florida at Fort Marion. Between 1875 and 1878, 72 Native men were imprisoned due to their connections to the Red River Wars in what would become Oklahoma. Their captors encouraged the men to create art, and the men documented their deeds. Jim Denomie related to this.
“I started to do these paintings. Well, this genre of narrative paintings, and visual storytelling when I was in art school at the U of M. And there, not everybody understood what I was doing, but, like I said to me, it was just doing something that I understood and what was felt natural and important.” said. Denomie.
And outpouring of remembrances continues on social media, a showing of how respected Jim Denomie was as a caring and supportive relative and community member. He was 66 when he passed away and began his next journey.
Leah Lemm reporting for Minnesota Native News
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