By Vicente M. Diaz, Michael J. Dockry, G.-H. Crystal Ng, Virajita Singh, Daniel F. Keefe, Katie Johnston-Goodstar, Roxanne Biidabinokwe Gould, Jim Rock, and Christine Taitano DeLisle
This photo gallery is a companion visual to the article “Navigating Indigenous Futures with the Mississippi River,” this issue.
The River Runs Through Us
For Dakota and Ojibwe respectively, Ȟaȟáwakpa / Misi-Ziibi is at once place and sentient being, a site, but also a relative—and a set of relations, of kinship and of relations of reciprocal and mutual custodianship. The River has been “here” for millennia, and yet, as the proverb goes, has also never remained at any one place in any one moment on account of its ceaseless flow. Yet, paradoxically, it “remains” steadfast and constant, filled or fed as it is, continuously, through cycles of regeneration, from sources originating from all directions, including from above and below. Historically and structurally, the River has also been changed—damaged—by, and to suit, settler colonial logics and relations. Yet, for us who as researchers bank on its many dimensions and possibilities, the River is also a place upon and a relationship with whom we might also build relations of kinship and reciprocity with Dakota and Ojibwe communities in the shared hopes of together building new / old ways of knowing and being for a more just future, one that flows from renewing proper relations in decidedly Indigenous terms.
The Manoomin and Back to Indigenous Futures teams showcased posters, cultural artifacts and implements, and cultural skills demonstration, including traditional watercraft and virtual reality canoe and celestial navigation simulations. After an early morning set up, which included a water ceremony down the river, at Wakháŋ Thípi, in St. Paul, our community partners from Dakota, Pacific Islander (Chuukese, from Micronesia), and Ojibwe communities from Minnesota and Wisconsin opened the event with prayer, drumming, and music to begin the all-day activities and celebration. Under a canopy of trees that framed a small field between the cliff and the River bank, we set up a dozen canopies to hold people, exhibits, and displays associated with our work. Here mixed students, staff, administrators, and project partners from the community with the tangible and intangible values of our shared labor.
The Indigenous Futures Project, aided by a U of M Extension Southwest Region Sustainable Development Partnership (RSDP) grant, partnered with the Chuukese (Micronesian Pacific Islanders) Community of Milan, Minnesota and the Upper and Lower Sioux Communities to build a waa herak/sailing outrigger canoe and a wata/traditional Dakota dugout as part of a shared effort in community resilience and decolonization through the revitalization of traditional canoe and water knowledge systems. The canoe building projects were supervised by traditional navigator Mario Benito and canoe carver Laureano Dilipwy from Polowat Atoll in the Central Carolines region of Chuuk State, the Federated States of Micronesia. Both canoes were blessed through Dakota and Polowat prayer and ritual, and launched on the Mississippi River during the event.
At the River
We chose to celebrate President Joan Gabel’s inauguration by welcoming her to the River and to give her the means to feel what research means to us and our community partners. Ojibwe song and drumming alternated with Micronesian chanting as she made her way to and from the boat launch to meet with us. For a full list of our participants in attendance, see Appendix One.
The drum beat and the drummers’ voices of the Wigwam Juniors drumming group from Lac du Flambeau set the tone and kept the pulse beating throughout the day for the Manoomin Project’s introduction to the Indigenous Futures Project, University of Minnesota students, and to President Gabel. The group was led by John Johnson, Sr., Tribal Council Member, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and joined by Kelly Applegate, Director of Resource Management, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. The drummers were Ganebik Johnson, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Tristan Mustache, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; and Elliot Johnson, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
The Catalyst 2019 Architecture Studio Workshop Exhibit was titled “On Boat Culture and Making across Dakota, Micronesian, and Norwegian traditions.” In spring semester 2019, graduate students in the School of Architecture, College of Design, under Professor Virajita Singh, Indigenous Futures Co-PI, considered what anthropologist Tim Ingold calls “the joining of forces of matter in improvisation through discovery” by exploring the synergy among the methods, the materials, and the making of Indigenous watercraft from Micronesian, Dakota, and Norwegian boat culture in rural Minnesota. The products—model watercraft and poster presentations on what was learned in studio “joining” of method/material/and making—were also joined to questions of place and community as raised in analogous work, by students in Professor Dan Keefe’s Immersive Lab, which involved the rendering of method/material/making of Indigenous watercraft in virtual reality “photography and choreography.”
Navigating Oceanic Stars in Dakota Lands where Water Reflects the Sky…in Virtual Space
Revitalizing traditional outrigger sailing technologies by fusing them with immersive computing technologies highlights the potential for individual (and group) first-person, multisensory storytelling and interactive teaching platforms. Such collaboration also leads to a symbiotic research relationship, where each technology informs new advances to the other. The 3D VR experience is also kinetic and tactile: pull the mwel (Polowatese word for the “sheet” or line that controls the sail in boat lingo) to catch wind in the amara/sail and the waa herak/outrigger sailing canoe moves forward. Work the fatabwul/steering paddle to turn the mah or eyes/bow or front of the outrigger toward the star toward which lies one’s destination.
Appendix One: Project Teams and Community Partners
Our interdisciplinary research team spans five University of Minnesota colleges and includes partnerships with four Minnesota and Wisconsin Bands and three inter-tribal organizations. U of M colleges: College of Science and Engineering; College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; College of Liberal Arts; College of Biological Sciences. Tribal Partners: Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, 1854 Treaty Authority, Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, and Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, Inc.
Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa:
- John Johnson, Sr., Former Vice-President of the LDF Tribal Council; Chairman of the Voigt Inter-Tribal Task Force
- Eric Chapman, Tribal Council Member; Wild Rice Cultural Enhancement Program Manager; Climate Resilience Initiative Project Lead
- William “Joe” Graveen, Wild Rice Cultural Enhancement Technician
- Erica Johnson
- Edward Poupart, Wigwam Jrs. Drummer
- Gage Poupart, Wigwam Jrs. Drummer
- Elliot Johnson, Wigwam Jrs. Drummer
- Ganebik Johnson, Wigwam Jrs. Drummer
- Tristan Mustache, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa: Wigwam Jrs. Drummer
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe:
- Kelly Applegate, Director of Resource Management
Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission:
- Melonee Montano, Traditional Ecological Knowledge Outreach Specialist
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe:
- TBD project partner, Division of Resource Management
(Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is a close project partner, but all representatives were occupied with their wild rice population survey and could not attend.)
University of Minnesota Team
Co-Principal Investigators (Co-PIs):
- G.-H. Crystal Ng, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, College of Science & Engineering (CSE), U of M Twin Cities (UMTC)
- Mike Dockry, Assistant Professor, Department of Forest Resources, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS); Department of American Indian Studies, College of Liberal Arts (CLA), UMTC
- Laura Matson, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Changing Landscapes, CFANS, UMTC
- Cara Santelli, Associate Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences, CSE, UMTC
- Dan Larkin, Assistant Professor, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, CFANS, UMTC
- Hannah Jo King, PhD, Forest Resources, CFANS, UMTC
- Maddy Nyblade, PhD, Earth and Environmental Sciences, CSE, UMTC
- Alex Waheed, MS, Earth and Environmental Sciences, CSE, UMTC
- Bree Duever, Center for Changing Landscapes, CFANS, UMTC
- Diana Dalbotten, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, CSE, UMTC
Full Tribal and U of M project team list may be found at: https://manoominpsin-gc.dash.umn.edu/people/.
Indigenous Futures Project
University of Minnesota Team
- Vicente M. Diaz, Associate Professor, American Indian Studies, CLA, UMTC
- Katie Johnston-Goodstar, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), UMTC
- Dan Keefe, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, CSE, UMTC
- Roxanne Gould, Associate Professor, Indigenous and Environmental Education, College of Education and Human Service Professionals, U of M Duluth (UMD)
- Virajita Singh, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Sustainable Building Research, College of Design, UMTC
Extended Academic Team:
- Christine DeLisle, Associate Professor, American Indian Studies, CLA, UMTC
- Stephen Guy, Associate Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, CSE, UMTC
- Jim Rock, Director of Indigenous Programming, Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, UMD
- Hyun Soo Park, Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, CSE, UMTC
- Meixi Ng, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow, American Indian Studies, CLA, UMTC
Graduate Research Assistants:
- Cary Waubanascum, Social Work, CEHD, UMTC
- Clarissa Seidle, Social Work, CEHD, UMTC
- Lower Sioux Indian Community, Community Council; Upper Sioux Indian Community, Board of Trustees
- Mat Pendleton, Director, Lower Sioux Indian Community Youth Center
- Adam Savariego, Upper Sioux Indian Community
- Charlene O’Rourke, Lakota Elder
- Waziyatawin, Makoce Ikikcupi
- Gabriel Elias, Micronesian Community of Milan, MN
- Michael Elias, Micronesian Community of Milan, MN
- Robert Ryan, Project Angechu Community Development Plan, Micronesian Community of Milan
Diaz, Vicente M., Michael J. Dockry, G.-H. Crystal Ng, Virajita Singh, Daniel F. Keefe, Katie Johnston-Goodstar, Roxanne Biidabinokwe Gould, Jim Rock, and Christine Taitano DeLisle. 2020. “Navigating Indigenous Futures Gallery.” Open Rivers: Rethinking Water, Place & Community, no. 17. https://openrivers.lib.umn.edu/article/navigating-indigenous-futures-gallery/.
Download PDF of Navigating Indigenous Futures Gallery by Vicente M. Diaz, Michael J. Dockry, G.-H. Crystal Ng, Virajita Singh, Daniel F. Keefe, Katie Johnston-Goodstar, Roxanne Biidabinokwe Gould, Jim Rock, and Christine Taitano DeLisle.