This is the first section in a series of murals that will be completed over the next year or so that relate to the history of Anishinaabe people in our region. The murals are featured prominently along areas of the lakewalk that lead up to the newly renamed Gichi-Ode Akiing park in Duluth, MN. The medicine wheel colors are painted in accordance with the four directions on top of the walls and will be visible on Google maps in the near future - a proclamation to the sky that we are still here. :)
I am working with descendents of Chief Buffalo to create imagery that reflects his story, as well as the presence of our Indigenous community today for this project.
This section in particular is the first and was painted in one day following a feast, blessing of the space and project. Over 50 folks from the community across generations came out to paint the fish, with youth participating in the design process as it went along. The aquatic life pictured is something I really enjoy using in my work - you'll find sturgeon, a fish-person, turtles, and more designs that reflect the creatures the Anishinaabe told stories of in our relationship to water.
Along the next wall, floral designs reincarnated by Michelle Defoe bring to life a traditional aesthetic.
From Michelle: "I had taken photos of old style Ojibwe floral patterns from the Minnesota Historical Society during our Makizin project. So I tried to bring some of these designs back to life instead of letting them sit in a museum. These are not my patterns but I did help put them into stencils and now they are alive again on the walls of Duluth along the lakewalk. So much love and heart in this project."
Central to these two walls is the pictograph which Chief Buffalo carried with him to address the president. Chief Buffalo's legacy takes the form of a story, but also manifests in the existence of Anishinaabe people all throughout Minnesota today and our enjoyment of rights to hunt, fish, and participate in traditional activities.
Below is an excerpt from the WI Historical Society with regard to the Pictograph:
“Contemporary elders say that the lines from the hearts and eyes of the Catfish, Man-fish, Bear, and the three Martens to the heart and eye of the Crane signify that all the headmen shared the same views. The last line, going out from the Crane's eye, indicated that the entire group had authorized Chief Buffalo (Crane Clan) to speak to President Fillmore on their behalf.” https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Image/IM1871
According to Henry Buffalo Jr.: "In this statement they mis-identify Buffalo as Crane instead of Maang. Crane and Loon were the leadership Clans and as the pictograph suggests all the authority from the others go to Crane and there is a last string that goes out from Crane. This string goes to the clan of the spokesperson. Remember this authority was given twice – once in 1849 to Oshcabawis when he was asked to go to Washington to address boundary issues. His clan was not depicted. The same with Buffalo. He was asked to go to Washington to address the Removal using this same document and his Clan was not depicted. It makes sense that the spokesperson’s Clan is not depicted because he is there himself (at the meeting with government officials) and can speak for his Clan’s support personally."
This is just the beginning as we seek more funding and more collaborations to reinvigorate the highly visible walls by Gichi-Ode Akiing.