Hand in Glove took place September 17-21 at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis. These are notes..not rewritten as an essay.
Han Mitakuyepi. Cante Waste Nape Ciyuzapi. Hello my relatives. I greet you with a good heart and a warm hand.
I have been taught by Dakota elders to Know who you are and Know WHERE you are. Much of my work as a media artist has been designed to help folks know where they are when they are here…the Bdote area. Maka Cokiaya kin…the center of the Dakota universe.
I was raised in a largely wasicun (ummm…let’s translate as “white”) town…Red Wing, 55 miles southeast of here on the Mississippi River. I am an enrolled citizen of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Oyate in South Dakota. I was raised not understanding that This Place – This region is a Dakota place. So I continue to learn about WHERE I AM.
For those who are interested in learning the Dakota relationship to the Mpls- St. Paul area – the Bdote Area…feel free to take a look at the Bdote Memory Map. Bdotememorymap.org.
But today we’re here to talk about the Healing Place Collaborative
Just As Seitu described the community meal, Healing Place has had many beginnings. …
with the Mapping Spectral Traces International Network,
with River Life Breakfasts,
with the Planning for the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Zone,
with the Minnesota Humanities and the Bdote Memory Map,
with one crazy ranting email,
with conversations between Emily Johnson of Catalyst Dance and I ,
with teachings from Dakota tradition,
with commitments from Jewell Arcoren and Jimmy Rhodes…
with the dedication and curiosity of the core partners.
As an introduction to the ever evolving Healing Place Collaborative…I’m happy to show this video, featuring Lead artist Emily Johnson of Catalyst Dance and Gavino Limon and other assorted native folks .
“Oaphiye,” or Healing Place is named for Healing OF place and Healing BY place.
Dakota tradition teaches us a few things about healing. The most central is that healing is more about healing life than it is about curing. You can be healed and not be cured.
Place, talked about a lot these days…and I saw from the tweets yesterday and today one of my redundancies…Placemaking Placetaking. To native people they sound waaay tooo much alike. Placemaking must begin with place recognizing and place honoring….Here in this place that means recognition and honoring of Dakota homeland. The fact that the Hand In Glove gathering started with such an effort last night fills my heart.
Place is not a location. Place is recognized in relationship.
Healing, too, is always about relationship —-between healer and healed, between heart and mind, between spirit and body…etc., etc. and healing OF Place and healing BY place is also about relationship. (BTW A transactional relationship is not the path to healing.) Learning from the relationship of those who have had the longest connection to a place might not be a bad place to start.
For Dakota people…a primary core of belief and values is Mitakuye Owasin…often translated “All My Relations” But it goes beyond the kinship of two leggeds and includes the animals, the rocks, the trees, the sky….and also ideas, and dreams and visions. What I choose to do affects all my relations. Perhaps even what I think…
Healing Place Collaborative is an indigenous artist led effort to move beyond the all too common – invite the indian so we can check that box on our list of the marginalized…to learning FROM indigenous people and sharing many ways of approaching the work, the play the art that focuses on Healing, On Place.
We have two different kinds of partners…CORE who meet monthly and make decisions. These are largely folks who are supported by an organization of some sort. I didn’t want to see more work where the artists, the natives, the others often ignored are asked to add their creativity and dedication as volunteers. Participating partners come together with Core partners a few times a year to share work and point of view and to see what collaborations might develop.
We’re counting approximately 15, maybe more, collaborations that have evolved from Healing Place. They range from partners involvement in symposia, to Dakota/Ojibwe children performing at an event at the U, to partners’ involvement in Hand in Glove, and fundraising help from Minneapolis Institute of Arts for the Dakota/Ojibwa Language Immersion preschool.
Which leads me to the Healing Place projects that focus on language. We are taught that language is a being, and that it is a gift of the earth. Literally. So to heal this place and to heal the people of this place bringing back the frighteningly endangered Dakota language may be a key. Language efforts include the use of Language Tables…informal gatherings around a table where the language is used. People learn (are fed). The language is fed. Healing Place partners, in a core meeting…came up with the idea to do a performance/teaching of Dakota language. We have a larger idea that will include a sculptural table, but the intro project is called Feast of Words Wičhóie Wótapi. It will be a public event in December held in Mill City Museum. We will have tables, we will have singing in Dakota…perhaps there will be dancers…perhaps there will be traditional cooking with narration in the language. We will invite folks to join our FEAST and learn about this place and this language.
At this glimpse, we have filled the bowls with Dakota words for the food in our lunch today. The plates have the words for a few Dakhota sites in the metro area.
To honor the language and this place, I must share with you that you are in MNIsota, that the waterfalls outside this building have been called Owamni for much longer than Fr. Hennepin’s arrival. There are a few names for the river …Wahpa tanka, Wahpa haha.
There are words that you have heard that have been changed…Minnesota, Mankato, Chaska, Shakopee, Winona…and others that have been translated…Red Wing, Sleepy Eye, Blue Earth, Yellow Medicine County.
I am not a speaker, but the chance to honor the language and thus the place of its birth is a gift.