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This weekend and next week, Indian Country is chock full of hot happenings, from a colossal cultural center opening, to an evening of Indigenous inside jokes, to a virtual visit with an award-winning artist who is very in Vogue

There is so much good stuff to sift through, so allow Native News Online’s event to conveniently break it all down for you.

MHA Nation Interpretive Center Grand Opening

WHEN: Wednesday, May 19, 8:30 a.m. PDT

WHERE: MHA Interpretive Center, New Town, N.D.

MHA Nation’s new Interpretive Center is an awe-inspiring architectural achievement that presents the past, present and future of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people.  

On Wednesday, the three-level, 45,000-square-foot Center that began construction in 2018, will be introduced to the public. The grand opening celebration will include live music from Ojibwe rockstar Keith Secola, traditional food catered by the Center, tours of the facility, and a lineup of speakers including MHA Nation Chairman Mark Fox and MHA Interpretive Center Director Delphine Baker. 

The eco-friendly structure is a multi-purpose facility including recording studios, exhibition space, an art gallery, coffee shop, gift shop, amphitheater, meeting and event rooms and much more. 

MHA Nation artists with work on display at the Center include Hidatsa and Sioux fashion designer Norma Baker Flying Horse, owner of Red Berry Woman designs, and her sister Caspie Abby. Flying Horse has a contemporary ribbon dress and accessories, as well as a Red Berry Woman dress that was worn to the Academy Awards, featured at the Center. 

“To know I am able to have a hand in this historic event and Center moves me beyond words,” Baker Flying Horse told Native News Online. “This building will help our people both share and preserve the beautiful cultures of the Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara people, showing the uniqueness of each tribe all while celebrating the connection that makes us the MHA Nation.”

Executive Director Delphine Baker said now that the Center is open, MHA Nation has a dedicated place to honor and display tribal art and objects, and they are working to repatriate such pieces from museums and collections all over the world.  

“I believe that all these items that come from our people, they carry a spirit and they want to come home,” Baker said. “They want to be on their original lands where they came from.”

Virtual Art Talk | In the Studio with Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty and Jessa Rae Growing Thunder

WHEN: Saturday, May 15, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. PDT

WHERE: Tickets are $5. Purchase tickets here.

growingthunder"Wakitantanka (Strong-Willed) Pandemic Survivalist," by Assiniboine and Sioux artist Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty. The Heard Museum will present a Virtual Art Talk with Growing Thunder Fogarty and her daughter Jessa Rae Growing Thunder on Saturday, May 15. (Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty)

If Assiniboine and Sioux artist Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty had stuck to her initial instincts regarding Covid-inspired work, she would have never created the topical and traditional piece of art that won “Best of Show” at March’s Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market.

“I didn’t want to make anything that had to do with Covid,” the artist said in a recent Vogue  magazine article. “It’s not something that I really wanted to draw attention to because we’re all suffering from it. But as the year went on, I felt it was time to say something.” 

She said it through a soft sculpture doll called "Wakitantanka (Strong-Willed) Pandemic Survivalist." Clad in a traditional Sioux penny dress, a floral beaded mask, a porcupine quill and rawhide breastplate, and moccasins, the sculpture is a masterpiece of Indigenous resilience and brilliance.

“Every piece that I create… has meaning,” Growing Thunder Fogarty said in Vogue. “I hope by looking at her that it’s a breath of fresh air; that it says, ‘We’re going to make it out of this.’ We’ve done it before.”

Growing Thunder Fogarty will demonstrate her beadwork and discuss the process behind her winning piece directly from her studio during a Virtual Art Talk presented by the Heard Museum and moderated by Chief Curator Diana Pardue. 

Growing Thunder Fogarty is from a multi-generational family of artists, and her artist daughter Jessa Rae Growing Thunder, will also participate in the virtual talk. 

Mother Tongue Film Festival presents “Waikiki”  

WHEN: Now through Sunday, May 16

WHERE: Register here. Registration is limited to 400 people on a first-come, first-served basis.

A surreal and visceral thriller confronting contemporary Indigenous Hawaiian issues, “Waikiki” is Hawaii’s first Native-written and directed feature film.

The allegorical movie released in 2020, which follows an abused woman named Kea attempting to rebuild her life, is currently being screened as part of the Smithsonian’s Mother Tongue Film Festival. 

Compared by critics to the dark, symbolic work of “Twin Peaks” director David Lynch, “Waikiki” is directed by Christopher Kahunahana and stars Danielle Zalopany as Kea.

The Smithsonian’s Mother Tongue Film Festival launched in 2016 and focuses on films and filmmakers from all over the world to celebrate cultural and linguistic diversity.  

Art of Comedy Native American Showcase

WHEN: Saturday, May 15, 6 p.m. PDT

WHERE: Mercury Cafe Denver, Denver, Colo. Tickets are $10. Purchase here

CateStatueThe Chief and The General clash in Ricardo Caté's “Without Reservations” comic in the Santa Fe New Mexican. Caté will perform at the Art of Comedy Native American Showcase on Saturday, May 15, at Mercury Cafe Denver. (Ricardo Caté)

In Ricardo Caté’s “Without Reservations” comic strip in the Santa Fe New Mexican, the wise war bonnet-wearing Chief always has the perfect wry comeback to the clueless Custer-like General’s entitled observations. 

Caté himself is also quite animated, and comedy lovers can see the funny man behind the cartoon flex his stand-up skills for a live audience for the first time in more than a year, at the Art of Comedy Native American Showcase at Mercury Cafe Denver. 

He will be joined by co-headliners Joshua Fournier (Navajo) and Korey Herrera (Cochiti Pueblo) and host Joshua “Danger” Emerson (Navajo) during an evening of Indigenous humor. 

“Most of my jokes will be about being Native, and situations of me being in the wrong place at the wrong time, that sort of thing,” the Kewa Pueblo performer Caté  (Kewa Pueblo) told Native News Online. “I'm really excited about performing now that a lot of the COVID restrictions have been lifted.” 

University of Denver New Beginning Social Distance Powwow

WHEN: Friday, May 14, 11 a.m. through Saturday May 22, 6 p.m. PDT

WHERE: Register to dance here. For more information, click here

DUAllianceThe Denver University Native Student Alliance will host the University of Denver New Beginning Social Distance Powwow from Friday, May 14, through Saturday, May 22. (Denver University Native Student Alliance)

Summer’s almost here, and the time is right for powwow dancing on the screens. 

Beginning this weekend, the Denver University Native Student Alliance will present the 10th Annual New Beginnings Powwow in a totally virtual format for the first time. 

A celebration of this year’s Native American graduates, the powwow will host several socially distanced dance specials with cash prizes of up to $200 for first, second and third place. 

There will be a collection of themed specials honoring LGBTQ2S, elders and culture bearers, and dance categories include Men’s Grass Double Beat, Jingle, Women’s Fancy Shawl Double Beat and a Street Clothes Special that does not require regalia.

Have an upcoming event? Email us: [email protected]

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About The Author
Tamara Ikenberg
Author: Tamara Ikenberg
Tamara Ikenberg is a contributing writer to Native News Online. She covers tribes throughout the southwest as well as Native arts, culture and entertainment. She can be reached at [email protected]