We are often referred to as Anishinaabe/Indigenous/Native people as living in two worlds. I reject this notion and believe we live in one. We are the people of confluence and adaptation. Last week during a residency at an elementary school a student asked me "Why do you have the Indian things?" "Do you have electricity?" I told her "We are all of these things. We are living both our ancestors ways and we have internet. My kids learn their language and play fortnite. WE GET TO BE IT ALL. Isn't That amazing??"
Instead of seeing ourselves as the recipients of endless trauma and deficit perhaps we should consider how we are the thriving recipients of thousands of years of adaptation, ingenuity, and incredible human beings. We get to be traditional AND contemporary. We get to be it all. Not everyone has this. When we can embrace this light we can love ourselves and the gifts we hold.
A few months back I was talking to the incredible Brenda Child about an exhibit she was curating about the jingle dress for the Mille Lacs Museum. I suggested we make a "Modern Ikwe" who represented how we, as Anishinaabekwe combine the traditional and the modern. This is a woman we know, we are these women. We get to be it all. And of course, as these strong intelligent woman do, she said "You want to do it?" and of course, I did.
Today I installed my piece of the Ziibaaska'iganagooday exhibit which opens April 3 at the Mille Lacs Museum and will be open throughout the summer. Come see these incredible dresses, both old and new, because this is who we are. We get to be it all.
Read more about the exhibit here: