- By Tamara Ikenberg
This weekend and next week, Indian Country is illustrated with matrilineal masterpieces, Auntie art, the return of the Reservation Dogs, and a delicious day of Choctaw culture.
Native News Online’s event guide is here to set the scene.
Noojimo (She Heals)
WHEN: Through Sept. 17
WHERE: All My Relations Arts, 1414 East Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN; Event page
When she was 12, one of Nedahness Rose Greene’s aunties took the pre-teen under her wing and behind the wheel.
“One of my Aunties actually taught me how to drive,” Greene (Anishinaabe) told Native News Online. “We live on the Leech Lake Reservation, so there are long dirt roads, and there were a lot of stops and starts with the braking. It was pretty scary at first, but then, after a while, we sat back and laughed, and I actually done pretty good.”
That sweet auntie memory is referenced in Greene’s photo “Your Auntie is Cool.” The stylish portrait, featuring a vintage car in the background, doesn’t include Greene’s driver’s ed auntie, but it does turn the headlights on generous and respected Anishinaabe educator and all-around auntie LuAnn Robinson.
The image is featured in the auntie-centered exhibit Noojimo (She Heals), curated by Hillary Kempenich (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa), a multi-disciplinary, award winning artist, cultural bearer, and advocate.
Participating in the show is poignant for Greene, who said most of her treasured aunties are no longer living. Creating pieces for the show allowed her to re-connect with and remember them.
“I wanted to portray my vision of my aunties,” Greene said. “My aunties were always crafty and beautiful and elegant and classy. They were like my second mothers.”
The exhibit, which explores the importance of Aunties in Indigenous spaces, includes the work of Greene, Greene’s sister Rayshele Kamke, Sharon Day, Somah Haaland, Tara Keanuenue, Eve-Lauryn LaFountain, Tanaya Winder, Agnes Woodward, Racquel Banaszak, Deanna L Croaker, Dyana Decoteau-Dyess, Rita Erdrich, Cynthia Hamilton, Penny Kagigebi, Rick Kagigebi, Teresa McDowell, Loriene Pearson, Valaria Tatera, Nelson White, and Melissa Widner.
For Greene, a highly sought-out photographer and activist, it’s about time for aunties to be creatively celebrated and commemorated
“A lot of our young Indigneous people dont have anyone to look up to, and a lot of our role models are aunties,” Greene said. “Aunties are healing because they inspire and nurture us and don’t judge us. They accept you for who you are without scolding you.”
Greene’s sister Rayshele Kampke also has work in the show. Her warm and inviting black and white drawing of beloved Anishinaabe Elder, author, and every-auntie “Great Grandmother” Mary Lyons, is adapted from a photo Greene took.
To Kampke, Lyons embodies the spirit of the supportive and wise auntie.
“I’ve learned so much from her from reading her books. She’s super knowledgeable and she shares traditional ways and wisdom with other people.,” Kampke told Native News Online. “Everybody feels like she’s their auntie or grandmother and a lot of people look up to her in many different ways.”
Reservation Dogs Season 2 Premiere
WHEN: Friday, July 29 , 8 p.m.
WHERE: River Spirit Casino Resort , 8330 Riverside Pkwy., Tulsa, OK; Event page
Muscogee Nation’s Reservation Dogs second season premiere event will also mark the debut of a modern Muscogee masterpiece immortalizing the iconic main characters Bear, Elora, Willie Jack, and Cheese.
Last week Muscogee artist Joe Hopkins led a collaborative community art project at the Tulsa Creek Indian Community Center. Nearly 100 community members, from toddlers to Elders, came out to help bring Hopkins’ funky and colorful tile art vision of the Dogs to life.
Hopkins’ design captures the Dogs all suited up in their iconic Quentin Tarantino-inspired formation against a backdrop of funky multi-colored squares.
“The Reservoir Dogs scene kind of thing is what it emulates,” Hopkins said. It’s just an image that I thought was really cool.”
Hopkins said he hopes to get some of the show writers and cast members slated to appear at the premiere to sign it .
This meeting of art and the small screen sensation is all the more meaningful because the Reservation Dogs, who live on a reservation in the fictional rural Okearn, Oklahoma, are obviously Muscogee even though it's never specifically stated in the show.
The proud pop cultural connection between the show and the creators adds power to the collaborative community piece.
“I thought the project would be really good for the community, because it's a piece that they can not only say that they are a part of, but they can really take ownership of it because of what the show is about,” Hopkins said. “So it kind of has a double meaning there.”
Choctaw Cultural Center First Anniversary Celebration
WHEN: Saturday, July 23, 10 am to 5 p.m.
WHERE: Choctaw Cultural Center; 1919 Hina Hanta Way, Calera, OK; Event page
There will be much banaha bread baking at the Choctaw Cultural Center’s first anniversary celebration.
Yes, that is banaha. Not banana. The center’s Champuli Cafe will be serving up the traditional cornmeal-based dish baked in corn husks all day, along with Indian Tacos, grape dumplings, and more tasty traditional fare.
The anniversary celebration will also feature an art market, children’s activities including kite flying and rabbit stick throwing, a chocolate making class, a social dance exhibition, and screenings of films including Spirit Flute: Healing the Heart, narrated by Academy Award winning actor Wes Studi.
Matrilineal: Legacies of Our Mothers
WHEN: Friday, July 29, through January 15, 2023
WHERE: IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, 108 Cathedral Place, Santa Fe, NM; Event page
Shell carving, painting and sculptural textile work are just a few of the arts practiced by the educated, accomplished and multi-talented Muscogee mothers and daughters of the Fife family.
The exhibition Matrilineal: Legacies of Our Mothers at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, guest-curated by Laura Marshall Clark (Mvskoke), honors the legacy of Mvskoke Creek matrilineal traditions and includes 50 artworks spanning three generations.
Although the Fifes are Muscogee from Oklahoma, they have strong ties to the Southwest, where their work is being displayed and celebrated.
Featured Fife family artists include matriarch Carmen Griffin Fife, a graduate of Chilocco Indian Agricultural School in Oklahoma and Santa Fe Indian School’s arts and crafts teacher training program, Carmen’s eldest daughter Jimmie Carole Fife, who participated in the 1961 Southwestern Indian Art Project at the University of Arizona, and Carmen’s daughters Sandy Fife Wilson, Phyllis Fife, and Phyllis’ daughter Shelley Patrick, all of whom are IAIA graduates.
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