The joint exploration of cultural identity is prevalent in the exhibit as a whole, which is partly what makes it such an intimate and personal one. “My work is always focused very much on my history, my thoughts, and my worldview,” said Zamara. "Telling those stories that don’t often get told in our mainstream society.” She makes telling the stories of women a priority, as her art is full of themes of women’s empowerment. In response to an audience member who asked her reasoning for using such heavy lines and contrast in her work, she described a desire to depict the feminine as also bold and carrying weight as opposed to delicate and fragile. According to Zamara, she saw very few works focused on women in traditional Maya art growing up, and what she did find inspired her to create more.
Jonathan Thunder’s work is also deeply personal and exploratory. “I had been working in the theme of paths to identity, paths home, paths to decolonization, and paths to strength,” he said, referencing his work in relation to the Long Night that is a focus of both his art and Zamara’s. The artwork he exhibited was a mix of both lighthearted and more surreal imagery, ranging from a teddy bear with a crown to one of his larger works - the latter depicting a child floating amidst red ceremonial ribbons, between an Indigenous elder to one side and ominous figurative symbols of colonization to the other.
Jonathan Thunder and Zamara Cuyún are both incredibly talented artists and insightful individuals. Through this exhibit they have outlined similarities between Anishinaabe and Maya Indigenous experiences, explored their identities, and brought forward their own thought-provoking conceptions of what home means to them. We’re so grateful to have their exhibit in the Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center and hope to host them both again in the future. The full video of their conversation can be found HERE.
Language Camp: On June 17 AICHO staff, housing families, an AICHO Board Member and our Ojibwe Language Table Instructor all attended and participated in the 11th Annual Kiwenz Ojibwe Language Camp in Sawyer, MN on the Fond du Lac Ojibwe Reservation.
Activities included moccasin making, beading, drum stick making, doll making, canoe races, horse shoes, lacrosse and other Indigenous games, a talent show, language sessions, meals, a walk/run, a nature walk, and much more.
It was a beautiful and cultural 3.5 days to be surrounded by Anishinaabeg culture and traditions.
Everyone is already looking forward to next summer's camp.
Photos by Ivy Vainio.
Creek Hike: A refreshing adventure and hike to Coffee Creek! On the way Katie Schmitz, Volunteer Laura, and Gimaajii Youth discovered wild strawberries, spittle bugs, snails, monarch caterpillars, yarrow and more. They offered asemaa before picking strawberries and yarrow leaves for tea.
Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation
Trainings: AICHO recently held a Trafficking and Human Exploitation Training for AICHO staff. It was led by Dabinoo’igan Shelter Director Shannon Larson, Director of Planning Daryl Olson and Cultural Arts Coordinator/former shelter advocate Moira Villiard. We had Katie Eagle from Mending the Sacred Hoop and Mary Cowen from Safe Harbor/Life House present as well. It was very informative. There are other trainings/gatherings that will happen for staff and program participants.
Did you know that $150 Billion is profited from human trafficking in the United States, and $99 Billion is from Sexual Trafficking?
Photos by Ivy Vainio
Outdoor Rooftop Yoga: AICHO has hosted several “Yoga in the Garden” sessions at Gimaajii. Miigwech to Mitra Emad for facilitating these twice a week sessions for the AICHO residents and staff.
On June 27 the Niiwin Indigenous Foods Market hosted a community pop up event with guest speakers Francois Median and Maria Defoe as well as students Michael and Nick presenting their multi-year program, Journey Gardens. Based in the Fond du Lac reservation, Journey Gardens is focused on healthy living, sustainable horticulture, and youth leadership through gardening, foraging, and greenhouse work. The presentation was informative and intriguing, and many community members attended. As per usual for community pop ups, the event was free and open to the public.
After the presentation an audience participatory activity run by the Gimaaji Youth market sold Indigenous teas to guests and presenters alike. The event supplied various other refreshments and Jakob Wilson was present to perform songs on his hand drum. The night was sponsored by Statewide Health Improvement Partnership via Minnesota Department of Health.
Photos by Ivy Vaino and Katie Schmitz