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The River Flows Through Us

Cultural Art belongs to us all. It is our inheritance. And we are all just the conduits.   For those of us on the end of teaching and sharing about our cultural arts, we can often empty out our rivers. Lately I've been feeling that I'd given away all I had.  When we feel the river running dry it is time to find the sources that fill us up.  I know what I need is some time with people on the step above me.  I need some time with our elder artists, historians, and mentors. They carry stories, information, laughter, and are so full of the wisdom of experience.   This weekend I spent time with one of my mentors Wendy Savage, expert moccasin...

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Passing on the little we know

Strange thing about being an Indigenous person in this middle part of life, we are now (rightfully so) expected to carry forward the gifts we are given.  The work of our generation is largely one of revitalization, recovery, and carrying on.   Today I held tiny hands and danced.  We shared dance stories, styles, songs, and our laughter with 150 headstart students today.  Its hard at this age to know what they hold onto.  What always stays though is the way the heart feels.  Not everyone is a dancer but we all have things that need to be shaken off.  This is the gift of our way of life.  We have the surface and we have all that lays beneath.  And...

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Up close with our ancestor's work, Michelle Defoe visits the Historical Archives

Visiting the Minnesota Historical Society is an important piece to this makizinikewin project.  It helped me to see up close the various styles and designs of how our elders made makizinan before us.  I am a young learner and I'm grateful for each experience that allows me to learn more.  I was in awe of the beauty and mastery or each artist's design.  It reminded me that I still have a lot to learn to get to that level of sewing and beadwork.  I was very inspired and moved by looking at each piece.   One thing in particular that was inspiring to me was the artist's ability to improvise with materials, fixing mistakes and altering patterns. Some of the makizinan...

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"Center of Good Things" murals unveiled in Downtown Duluth

Today Mayor Emily Larson, Ordean Foundation President Don Ness, and Arrowhead Regional Arts Council Direct Drew Digby, unveiled the new "Center of Good Things" murals alongside myself and our community on the Ordean Building. When I was asked to submit a proposal for this project on the Ordean building, I took it as an opportunity to learn, ask questions, and look closely. Because inside this building is incredible work to support our community through the arts, direct service, and philanthropy.  And outside and underneath this building are the stories, the history, and the land and water. My brother Tom Howes told me about when Chief Biauswa talked about this place so full of wildlife, food, and medicine that it was...

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Defoe and Howes selected as Proctor Public Schools Artist in Residence

Proctor Public Schools Art program has made learning about Anishinaabe people, art, and making connections with the community a priority.  Art teacher Tiffany Quade coordinates this program and points out "...Hosting an Indigenous Artist in Residence expands education by establishing a culturally-relevant experience for all students.  I am passionate to put into action incorporating local and world cultures in classroom work and our school community.  I think it's vital for students to find aspects of life where they feel connected.  This allows students to be internally motivated... Art education is just one vehicle for culturally relevant learning... This breaks the monoculture education that traditional schooling has perpetuated.  This also allows students access to a more informed perspective of all people." Red Cliff...

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