Today we look at Native stories, art, and healing ceremony in honor of George Floyd.
A letter was released by the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group. The collective of about thirty Twin Cities American Indian organizations responded to the tragic death of George Floyd and “condemns the murder of one of our fellow citizens.”
George Floyd’s murder has sparked mourning, peaceful protests, and opportunist agitators. Buildings burned, including MIGIZI, an organization in South Minneapolis that is dedicated to empowering Native youth.
So many helped take care of people during this time of heartbreak. Donations to organizations like MIGIZI have been substantial. Community members have been helping to protect organizations from violence. A week after George Floyd’s death on 38th and Chicago, jingle dress dancers came and danced at the same intersection. The jingle dress has been shared to provide medicine and healing.
Miiskogihmiiwan Poupart-Chapman told her story of witness and healing at the ceremony, and shared these words with MN Native News team member Justus Sanchez:
“My name is Miiskogihmiiwan Poupart-Chapman. I’m 19 years old. I attend Augsburg university. I live in this area. I have family members just around the corner. I represent the Minnesota Indian education association and I’m a woman’s powwow dancer.”
“I’m dancing for the people. I’m dancing for healing. I came here with compassion in my heart with empathy. I know how these families are feeling because it happens to ours and it happens to all these families daily. You see it in the news all the time and it’s not every day that we get to record what’s happening and you know, a movement like this, we’re all hurting and I’m here dancing for the people. That’s why all these dancers are here. The jingle just came in the 1920s when the pandemic was happening back then too. And it’s not a surprise that it’s showing back up in these times. We need healing and that’s what these dances are for.”
May was American Indian Month in Minnesota, and had a very different look to it this year through the pandemic and distress in Minneapolis. No celebration, no powwows, no smell of Indian Tacos down Franklin Avenue. but it was still celebrated.
One such event came from The Division of Indian Work. They announced the winners of their Video/Art Contest. Attendees joined over video conference to appreciate the art of the community and to choose their favorites. Hosting the event was Ashley Zukowski from DIW.
“All of the artwork here was submitted by a large variety of people, mostly in the Twin Cities, but even from Wisconsin. A lot of younger kids, lot of varying age ranges,” said Zukowski “We really appreciate everyone that submitted things. I think this is just something fun to be able to look at and experience today. You know, this month has been difficult for a lot of people, especially this week, and it’s nice to be able to have something to enjoy and come to.”
There were art pieces painted by youth, traditional dancers, and even some lively chalk art all celebrating this years theme of We Are Still Here.
Though there were over a dozen entries, only three could win. Co-host of the event, Afton Delgado, introduced the first place winner Adam Nelson’s piece.
“And this is Adam Nelson. So this is a great piece. It really shows the importance of how the Plains and how everyone feels about Bdote, which is the center of a lot of our communities.”
In other news, Tashia Hart from Red Lake Nation has a new young adult novel that recently made its debut. Gidjie and the Wolves is the first in a series of books called the Intermediaries. Gidjie, a young Anishinaabe girl has friends and loved ones who are intermediaries, beings who walk as both animals and humans.
“This series, like this first book gets you in the wolves. It’s sort of like the intro into this world,” said Hart.
Tashia describes the novel as embracing both the real and the fantastical, all the while embracing Anishinaabe culture and the landscape of Minnesota. Find out more at Tashiahart.com.
For Minnesota Native News, I’m Leah Lemm.