April 17, 2014

Meet Native America: Duke Peltier, Ogimaa (Chief) of Wiikwemkoong Anishinabek

In the interview series Meet Native America, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian invites tribal leaders, cultural figures, and other interesting and accomplished Native individuals to introduce themselves and say a little about their lives and work. Together, their responses illustrate the diversity of the indigenous communities of the Western Hemisphere, as well as their shared concerns, and offer insights beyond what’s in the news to the ideas and experiences of Native people today. Dennis Zotigh, NMAI 

1 - Ogimaa Peltier - December 2013
Ogimaa Duke Peltier, chief of Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve Photo by Ireva Photography © 2013.

Please introduce yourself with your name and title. 

Duke Peltier, Ogimaa (chief) of Wiikwemkoong Anishinabek.

Can you give us your Native name and its English translation?

Niigaan Waasa Gaa Naabit—"one who looks very far ahead.”

Where is your nation located?

The Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve is situated on Odawa Mnis, now known as Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada. We are in the middle of Lake Huron, historically known as the Odawa Lake, and we are the largest freshwater island in the world. 

Where was your nation originally from?

From time immemorial, the Odawa Nation controlled Lake Huron and all the waterways flowing from it. The original territory stretched from the Ottawa River through to Michigan. Our island, Odawa Mnis, has always been the spiritual and political center of our nation. Some of Canada’s earliest explorers and the Jesuit missionaries from the early 1600s documented in detail our occupation, interaction in leadership positions with others, and jurisdiction of this territory.

Wikwemikong is the largest Anishinabek community on Odawa Mnis and has a long history of strong leadership. We have always fiercely defended our island against encroachments by other nations, as evidenced by oral and documented history. Since 1836, during encroachments and the removal of the Anishinabek from their homelands, the Ojibway and Potawatomi Nations became part of the Wikwemikong community. The Odawa, Ojibway, and Potawatomi are three distinct nations but are closely related as the Anishinabek. When we unite politically, culturally, and spiritually, we are known as the Three Fires Confederacy.

What is a significant point in history from your nation that you would like to share?

The most significant historical event to our people was the 1764 Peace Treaty at Niagara. It truly ended the Seven Years’ War in North America, established peace, and ratified the 1763 Royal Proclamation. Of particular significance, it established our relationship as allies with the British Crown, and today with Canada as the official representatives of the Crown.

At the signing of the 1764 peace treaty, the Odawa and other Anishinabe formalized a nation-to-nation relationship with the Covenant Chain Wampum Belt and a two-row wampum belt. The wampum belts created a binding respect for each other’s governments and our authority over lands. At the meeting, the Crown made a number of promises, one of which was to protect our interests forever. As Ocaita, an Anishinabe speaker, recalled at a meeting in 1818, “If you should ever require my assistance, send this belt, and my hand will be immediately stretched forth to assist you.” Our people here in Wikwemikong are the direct descendants of those Odawa and Anishinabe chiefs who authorized the agreement, and those promises have since been imbedded in our history.

The Crown and the Anishnabek met annually to renew these obligations and discuss important business. The Crown brought substantial presents to the people to sustain their welfare, as part of the obligations, and a great celebration for a number of days accompanied these activities. The wampum belt agreement and the promises that were made have been reaffirmed at these official meetings with the Crown since 1764. For example, in 1836, at a large annuity gathering on Manitoulin Island, our leaders recited the Covenant Chain Wampum Belt, reminding the Crown of promises that were made and the alliance that was to last forever.

We have continually occupied and protected the islands and waters throughout Lake Huron. Pledged through sacred ceremony, the Crown promised to protect our lands and ensure our needs will be provided for, as long as the “grass grows, the rivers flow and the British wear red coats.” As Canada’s highest court tells us, the honor of the Crown must be upheld, so these promises must be kept. As part of our commitment to uphold the agreement—to be an ally and protect the Crown—many of our veterans have sacrificed their lives. Many of our people voluntarily fought and died in every major war the Crown has been involved in since 1764.

Today the honor of the Crown requires that we resolve all disputes between us, especially those related to the lands, fisheries, and basic services which were promised in 1764. Our task today is to continue to remind the government of Canada and its many representatives of this history. In the words of the Crown, “When the Silver Covenant Chain becomes tarnished, it would need to be polished.” As this year marks the 250th anniversary of the 1764 peace treaty, we look forward to polishing that chain and reconfirm our relationship based on the two-row wampum and the Covenant Chain Wampum.

As I stated earlier, the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve is composed of the Odawa, Ojibway, and Potawatomi Nations. We are proud to say that we have never surrendered any rights to our lands and resources and continue to derive our livelihood from our homelands, as we have from time immemorial. We continue to exercise exclusive jurisdiction of all areas within our territory as the Wikwemikong Unceded Nation.

What responsibilities do you have as chief?

My main responsibility is to provide leadership for our people through strategic directives, as defined by our Council. Our decision-making approach is by consensus to ensure that we meet the needs of our people in a unified way. We are focused on economic development initiatives to foster self-sufficiency, on nurturing and supporting the talents of all our band members through a creative and responsive education system, and on maintaining a holistic healthcare system that incorporates Anishinaabe traditional knowledge and medicines with the mainstream approach to health care.  Together these targeted areas all link to my highest priority—the protection of our lands and the rights of our people.

How did your life experience prepare you to lead the Wikwemikong Unceded Nation?

From a very young age, I was consistently reminded that I was given the responsibility to work for my people. 

When I was a child, my father felt that it was important for me to be grounded in the culture of our Anishinaabe people. In our ceremonial lodge, I received my first name, Nimkii Gwiizenhs, with accompanying instructions to carry a very special pipe later in my adult life. 

My parents shared with me the gift of our Anishinaabemowin language and taught me the importance of a work ethic and of pursuing my dreams. They supported all my endeavors, including sports, and I owe a lot of what I have to my passion for hockey. With their approval, I left home when I was 16 years old and moved to St. Michael’s Indian Residential School. My transition into a new environment allowed me to blossom as a leader as opportunities arose for advancement in both education and sports. My peers selected me to be the valedictorian of the class of 1994, and I was also being recruited by many junior hockey teams and U.S. colleges. Ultimately I ended up playing for the Weyburn Red Wings and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. 

While in Saskatoon, I met many of Saskatchewan’s past and current leaders who nurtured my leadership qualities and also provided opportunities for me to gain valuable work experience in proposal development, event marketing, media relations, corporate relationship-building, and project management. These experiences prepared me for my return home to Wikwemikong where I was tasked to establish a recreation program on behalf of our Council. I fulfilled this role successfully for ten years managing multiple projects.

The leadership and management skills that I gained over the years allowed for an easy transition into an elected position on Wikwemikong’s Council. During the three consecutive terms I served prior to becoming chief, I held portfolios in Education, Lands and Resources, and Economic Development.

Who inspired you as a mentor?

I have had many mentors throughout my life. I will briefly mention a few. My mother, Sandra Peltier, taught me that lifelong education needs to be our passion in order to achieve our goals. My grandmother Annie Peltier taught me the value of kindness and the power of forgiveness. As a decorated Veteran of WWII, my grandfather Andrew Manitowabi showed me what true courage and commitment to our land and people is. As the most successful entrepreneur in Wikwemikong for the past 60-plus years, he also showed me what determination will get you.

While living in Saskatchewan, I was adopted by Don and Dolly Eyahpaise at Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation. To be accepted as one of their own by this family inspired me to accept everyone into my circle, regardless of their circumstance. Also George E. Lafond, of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, was a mentor to me by providing me with guidance, and he continued to support the pursuit of all my goals both in personal life and with sports, in particular, with the Petequacay Blades. 

Recently, I have been inspired by Dr. Cindy Blackstock, of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society, for her leadership to pursue fairness and equity for First Nations families. As a result of one of my discussions with her, I recommended to my Council the creation of a Wikwemikong Unceded Children’s Bill of Rights. I am proud to say this law was enacted by Council this year and was celebrated in our traditional ways with the children of Wikwemikong. This bill was enacted to ensure that Wikwemikong’s priority will always be the future well-being of our children. The people of Wikwemikong gave chief and Council the mandate to protect and maintain our grandchildren’s inherent rights on our Anishinabe lands and waters, and the leadership followed up with a very strong bill to protect those rights. 

3 - Ogimaa Peltier - November 2013b
Ogimaa Duke Peltier signing the Wikwemikong Unceded Children’s Bill of Rights at Wasse Abin High School on November 27, 2013, Wikwemikong, Ontario. Photo courtesy of the Wikwemikong Unceded Nation. 

Are you a descendant of a historical leader? If so, who?

Wikwemikong has a long history of great leaders that we are just starting to reintroduce to the community from the collective memory of our people and through historical documents. Some of the more famed ones during critical times in our history—Pontiac, Pungowish, Ningwegon, Mackedepenessay, Mookamaanish, Tahgewinini, Assiginack, Kenoshameg, Wassegijig, Osawanimiki, Ominikamigo, Jacko, Manitowabi, Wabegijig and Wakegijig—have descendants in Wikwemikong. I have traced my lineage to a number of our leaders.  Traditionally, Wikwemikong had war chiefs, civil chiefs, fishing chiefs, hunting chiefs, and clan chiefs.

Approximately how many members are in your band?

We have 7,840 members around the globe.

What are the criteria to become a member of the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve?

You must be able to establish parental lineage that allows an application to be considered by Council.

Is your language still spoken on your homelands? If so, what percentage of your people would you estimate are fluent speakers?

We are fluent speakers of the Anishinaabemowin language in Wikwemikong, and many of our speakers teach in other communities across throughout the Great Lakes where our dialect is spoken. An interesting note on our language: In Wikwemikong, you can distinguish where a person resides in the community. I grew up speaking the Odawa dialect, but in other areas of our territory, the Ojibway and Potawatomi dialects are also spoken. It is estimated that 35 percent of our members are fluent speakers and have accepted the responsibility to be the keepers of our language on behalf of the Anishinabek Nation.

How is your nation's government set up? 

Currently, Wikwemikong operates under the terms of the Indian Act of Canada. Our membership elects one chief and twelve councillors to serve a two-year term. The councilmembers select a portfolio area where they feel they can apply their skillset. However, we are in the process of completing our own constitution, called Chi-Naaknigewin, which will restore our jurisdiction and establish supreme law over our territory according to our values and principles.

Wikwemikong’s chief is supported by the executive assistant to chief and council and a communications/policy analyst. The Council governs its administration through its key personnel, the director of operations and finance manager.

Is there a functional, traditional entity of leadership in addition to your modern government system? 

The modern government system has been in place since the late 1800s. However, a large number of descendants of the traditional chiefs have held this office. Each member of Wikwemikong is expected to fulfill individual responsibilities to maintain our community wellness.

How often does your Council meet?

The Council meets every second Monday, and, as required, special meetings are convened to address specific issues. The Council reports quarterly to the membership on its portfolio activities.

What economic enterprises does the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve own?

Wikwemikong owns and operates a telephone utility, FirstTel Communications; a Championship Golf Course, Rainbow Ridge Golf Course; a Small Business Centre that supports a dollar store franchise; and our entrepreneurs. We continue to work on multimillion-dollar geographic information systems contracts in support of the Forest Resource Inventory for the Province of Ontario. We have also recently partnered with our neighboring First Nations to build the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre

What annual events does your band sponsor?

Wikwemikong celebrates its community spirit through several cultural events that draw visitors from all over the world and walks of life. This year we are hosting our 54th Annual Cultural Festival in August, as well as the Maple Syrup Festival in the spring, Traditional Powwow in June, Agricultural Fall Fair, Whitefish Festival, and Ice Fishing Derby.

What attractions are available for visitors on your land?

As Manitoulin's largest community, we offer private and community-operated tourism services that highlight our rich history. Many of our visitors enjoy hiking our picturesque trails and photographing our historic buildings.

How does your band deal with Canada or the United States as a sovereign nation?

Wikwemikong maintains its unique status as an unceded nation.We continue to assert our jurisdiction in all areas. We look forward to the completion and ratification of our constitution, the Chi-Naaknigewin, and the laws that will flow from it. Our written consititution will redefine our relationship with the various governments in Canada.

What message would you like to share with the youth of your community?

Be passionate and stay disciplined to achieve your goals. Don’t ever settle for anything less than giving the best you can, because being just good enough is not likely to be good enough. Give more than what’s required. Demand the very best of yourself and opportunity will find you.  

Aangwaamzin, weweni kakinoonaa kwiji bimaadis. Be careful [in your life]. Speak kindly with all your relations.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Without the full support of my wife Nicole, my sons, Landon and Connor, and my daughter, Lacey, I would not be able to fulfill my responsibilities as Ogimaa of Wiikwemkoong Anishinaabek. 

Thank you.

Thank you.

To read other interviews in this series, click on the banner below. 

From left to right: Representative Ponka-We Victors (Tohono O’odham/Southern Ponca) taking the oath of office in the Kansas House of Representatives; photo courtesy of Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache) at the Sundance Film Festival; photo courtesy of WireImage. Sergeant Debra Mooney (Choctaw) at the powwow in Al Taqaddum Air Force Base, Iraq, 2004; photo courtesy of Sgt. Debra Mooney. Councilman Jonathan Perry (Wampanoag) in traditional clothing; photo courtesy of Jonathan Perry. Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee) at Blackhorse et al. v. Pro Football, Inc., press conference, U.S. Patent and Trade Office, February 7, 2013; photo courtesy of Mary Phillips. All images used with permission. 

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April 10, 2014

Photographers Larry McNeil and Will Wilson Go for the Platinum

Will Wilson's finished platinum print portraits. Used with the permission of the artist. 

Photographers Larry McNeil (Tlingit/Nisga′a) and Will Wilson (Diné/Bilagáana) have been invited to speak about their platinum printmaking at an international symposium on the science, conservation, significance, and continued application of the historic photographic process. Presented by the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the symposium will take place on October 22 and 23, 2014. The two photographers are scheduled to speak on the first day of the two-day program. Tours of photo collections held by the National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, and the National Museum of American History and workshops on the the chemistry of platinum and palladium photographs are offered on October 21 and 24.

NMAI has acquired platinum works from both artists and is currently preparing an exhibition of these important photographs. Opening on June 7, 2014, Indelible: The Platinum Photographs of Larry McNeil and Will Wilson reminds us of the role platinum photographs played in late-19th- and early-20th-century representations of Native Americans. The exhbition further argues that McNeil and Wilson challenge this problematic history by integrating the process into their contemporary practice.

Larry McNeil and his assistant with a test platinum print of Elders. Used with the permission of the artist.

In preparation for the show, the two photographers have been hard at work in their darkrooms. Platinum paper used to be manufactured by photographic supply companies and was basically ready to use right out of the box. In fact, platinum printing was considered easy to do. This is no longer the case. The platinum process is now difficult and dangerous. McNeil and Wilson have to make their own platinum paper by mixing light-sensitive chemicals in a darkroom and applying the solution to the paper. The photographers use a printing frame to put the sensitized paper in direct contact with a negative, then expose the frame to light. Upon exposure, the image from the negative burns itself onto the paper in reverse. McNeil and Wilson must monitor the development of the print so as not to produce an over- or underexposed photograph. After exposure, they return to the darkroom to dunk the print in a chemical fixing bath.

I asked Will Wilson to describe the work involved in using a digital image to create a negative for platinum printing:

A contrast curve is the tonal relationship ranging from black to white. Establishing the contrast curve for a digital negative depends on several factors: the paper to be used for the final print, the platinum/palladium ferric oxalate ratios, the developer, the light source, and the negative substrate material combination. Humidity also impacts the curve. 

With my homemade platinum solution, I sensitize a Stouffer test wedge, which measures a gradient of tones in five percent increments from black to white, to do a series of tests to find the time that gets me to the dMax—the shortest time to develop the perfect black. I record this. Next I expose another test wedge at my perfect-black time, and this anticipates the entire tonal range of a platinum print. I let the new test strip dry and then scan it into Photoshop. 

Will Wilson's digitally derived negative of his self-portrait. Used with the permission of the artist.

In Photoshop I use the eyedropper tool while viewing the contrast curve of my scan to measure the contrast values at each of those five-percent increments. You “build your curve” by inputting these values into an inverted version of your contrast curve, which radically changes its shape. You apply this new curve to your test wedge and reprint. Now you run another test strip, scan, and measure. This time your contrast values should give you a curve that is much more linear, with a steady, predictable progression from black to white.

Based on this test you tweak the first curve you built and test again. Hopefully you are very linear at this point. Now you use the curve you built with its tweaks, applying it to all of your digital negatives, and you should be golden for your particular combo.

One more thing: Bostick and Sullivan of Santa Fe and photographer Ron Reeder should be credited for leading me down this particular wormhole. 

Larry McNeil recently posted to his blog on the cutting-edge technology he uses in aid of his platinum-printing and his thought process for titling his newest work, which will appear in Indelible.

The photography symposium has received support from the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Gallery of Art. For a complete schedule of the symposium and to register, submit payment, or apply for scholarship funding, please click here.

Indelible: The Platinum Photographs of Larry McNeil and Will Wilson will be on view at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., from June 7, 2014, to January 15, 2015.

—Heather Shannon and Will Wilson

Heather Shannon is photo archivist at the National Museum of the American Indian and curator of Indelible.

Will Wilson , a Diné photographer who grew up in the Navajo Nation, studied photography at Oberlin College (BA, 1993) and the University of New Mexico (MFA in Photography, 2002). In 2007, Wilson won the Native American Fine Art Fellowship from the Eiteljorg Museum, and in 2010 was awarded a grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. From 2009 to 2011, he managed the National Vision Project, a Ford Foundation funded initiative at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, and helped to coordinate the New Mexico Arts Temporary Installations Made for the Environment (TIME) program on the Navajo Nation. Wilson is part of the Science and Arts Research Collaborative (SARC) which brings together artists interested in using science and technology in their practice with collaborators from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia Labs as part of the International Symposium on Electronic Arts, 2012 (ISEA). His installation Auto Immune Response was on view at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York in 2006. 

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Meet Native America: Kenneth Meshigaud, Tribal Chairperson of the Hannahville Indian Community

In the interview series Meet Native America, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian invites tribal leaders, cultural figures, and other interesting and accomplished Native individuals to introduce themselves and say a little about their lives and work. Together, their responses illustrate the diversity of the indigenous communities of the Western Hemisphere, as well as their shared concerns, and offer insights beyond what’s in the news to the ideas and experiences of Native people today. Dennis Zotigh, NMAI 

Please introduce yourself with your name and title.

My name is Kenneth Meshigaud. I am tribal chairperson of the Hannahville Indian Community.

Can you share with us your Native name and its English translation?

My Native name is Ogeema Muckwa, which translates in English to King Bear—I am of the Bear Clan. 

Recentofficephoto a
Kenneth Meshigaud, tribal chairperson, Hannahville Indian Community.

Where is your community located?

Our tribe—a band of Potawatomi—is located in the south central part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It's best described as approximately two hours north of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Where was your nation originally from?

The great nation of Potawatomi once called the areas of southern Michigan, southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio our ancestral homelands.

What is a significant point in history from your tribe that you would like to share?

It is difficult to define any particular event, but I believe the Trail of Tears was a significant part of that history, as for almost every tribal nation across the country. In 1834 the people of Hannahville refused to leave Michigan in the Indian Removal. As tragic as that was, I believe it defined and strengthened us as nations of people.  And although it split us from our brothers and sisters, it caused us to develop the tenacity, strength, and familial bonds that would carry us through those tough times and instill in us the desire to carry on as the proud and strong nation that we are.

How is the Hannahville Indian Community government set up?

The Hannahville Indian Community Tribal Council governs the community. We also have other elected boards for various areas of the community government. That includes a Health Board, School Board, Adult/Child Welfare, Housing, and a Gaming Commission. These elected boards have responsibilities to oversee their respective departments for administration and oversight of policies adopted by the Tribal Council.

Any disputes or interruptions that the board cannot settle are referred to the Tribal Council for final action.

Is there a functional, traditional entity of leadership in addition to your modern government system? 

Although there is no functional traditional leader of the community, we rely on the wisdom, general practices, and recommendations of persons who are knowledgeable in these areas to offer their suggestions when the Tribal Council meets to make and enforce the laws for the people of the Hannahville Indian Community.

How often are elected leaders chosen?

The Tribal Council is elected for a three-year term as defined by our constitution and by-laws.

How often does the council meet?

Tribal Council is bound by constitution to meet at least once per month. 

How did your life experience prepare you to lead your nation?

I don’t think I was ever prepared enough to have this awesome responsibility. I don’t think anyone ever is.  What I do know is that I grew up with some awareness in myself that I would one day help and contribute to my community in some way. Knowing this, as I grew up and got to the age when I could be employed, I worked in many areas of the community to gain a basic knowledge of how each department functioned on a day-to-day basis. I knew that one day it would help me to oversee and steer the community in what I think is the right direction.

What responsibilities do you have as principal chief?

I have administrative oversight responsibilities for all governmental, educational, health, welfare, and gaming activities in our community. The responsibility of overseeing the general welfare of our community is perhaps the toughest responsibility. To act as a leader, spokesperson, and advocate for the people is the highest honor, knowing that it is their lives and the lives of their children that I am ultimately affecting. 

Who inspired you as a mentor?

I’ve had many mentors over the years from administrators who were my bosses or supervisors when I entered the workforce in my community to teachers and community members. But the person I consider my greatest teacher and mentor was my brother-in-law, Jake McCullough Jr. When I was three years old, my mother passed away, and the state welfare department felt it was in the best interest to place my younger brother and me in foster homes; they felt my father could not handle such young children. 

Well, my family would not have it. So my older sister, Marylou decided to take us in. Her husband, Jake, acted for a time as my father. He, along with my sister, raised my brother and me during those very formative years and taught us life lessons that I still cling to today. The lessons of self-respect, thinking before acting, and caring for your brothers and sisters are the greatest teachings he ever gave me. He later became the tribal chairperson for our community and inspired me to do the same. Not by his saying it in words, but by my watching his actions and role modeling I later came to realize that I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

Are you a descendant of a historical leader? If so, who?

I am told that I am a descendant of Chief Simon Kahquados, who I am told was the last heredity chief of the Potawatomi. Best known as the Great Communicator, he would regularly travel to cities and towns outside the community and speak to non-Indian people to educate them about the community in hopes that it would build trust and foster good relationships.  

Approximately how many citizens are in your community?

There are currently 905 enrolled members of the Hannahville Indian Community.

What are the criteria to become enrolled in Hannahville?

Every person who wishes to be an enrolled member of the community must be half or more Indian blood. Our constitution and by-laws spell out membership criteria and, and as for many communities, the criteria are each unique to our tribe.  

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Chairperson Meshigaud at the 2012 Gathering of Potawatomi Nations, hosted by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi. Each year one of the nine bands of Potawatomi—seven in the United States and two in Canada—hosts the gathering, which includes a conference on language revitalization as well as a powwow. Courtesy of the Hannahville Indian Community. Used with permission.

Is your language still spoken on your homelands? If so, what percentage of your people would you estimate are fluent speakers?

The Potawatomi language was recently ranked among the ten most endangered languages on the planet. Very few people speak fluently, and of those who do, the average age is at a point where we are loosing many of them.

The Potawatomi nation as a whole, including bands outside of Hannahville, has come together to create language programs that will sustain and preserve our language for generations. Through our efforts and along with the assistance of professional linguists, the Potawatomi language dictionary is very close to publication, another tool we hope will preserve the language for the future generations. 

What economic enterprises does your community own?

Hannahville Indian Community currently owns and operates the Island Resort and Casino, the Sweetgrass Golf Club, the Island Oasis Convenience Store, the Potawatomi Heritage Center, and a waste water treatment plant that provides service to the neighboring non-Native community for a fee. 

What annual events does your community sponsor?

Each year the community hosts the Annual Great Lakes Area Pow-Wow, now entering its 38th year. We hold various charitable golf tournaments. In June we will host the L.P.G.A. Symetra Tour's Island Resort Championship for the fourth time at our top-ranked Sweetgrass Golf Club at the Island Resort and Casino, a relationship that has been extended through 2017.

What other attractions are available for visitors on your land?

Aside from the casino, the Potawatomi Heritage Center is available to educate and inform the public on who the Potawatomi people are and what our community is all about.

How does the Hannahville Indian Community deal with the United States and Canada as a sovereign nation?

Like many tribal nations across North America and Canada, the relationship with our sovereign-nation neighbors is sometimes a contentious and difficult one. We have put a lot of energy into building good relations with our neighboring county and state governments. Disagreements are bound to happen, and they do, but we have been able to overcome a great majority of them to ultimately benefit both the tribe and the surrounding non-Native communities. We may have philosophical differences, but mutual respect and cooperation can go a long way in closing gaps that prevent our communities from moving forward.

What message would you like to share with the young people of Hannahville?

My advice to the youth of Indian Country is to stay away from alcohol and drugs. The scourge of alcohol and drugs and the ill-fated results have been the most debilitating factor in the erosion of our families, our communities, our culture, and our Tribal ways. Dealing with these problems on a daily basis, especially when they are associated with young people, has been the most difficult and heart-wrenching problem that I've faced.  Seeing our people spiral out of control and watching their light fade to almost nothing should tear at anyone’s heartstrings, as it does at mine. 

It is much better for the youth of our communities to realize that there are countless opportunities to live better lives and that the possibilities of creating that good life exist.

Above all, the self esteem that you build within yourself from positive personal accomplishments is by far a greater thing to manifest and learn from than having to struggle and dig your way out of negative and nonproductive actions that have consequences that will follow you through the majority of your lives. Always look up and make the choice to see the good road ahead that you can walk on. It is there, and your community is there to help you.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I have seen our community arise from a time when we had no running water and electricity in our homes to a community owning our own multimillion-dollar resort and golf club. We’ve gone from unpaved two-lane roads, garbage dumps in our backyards, from a time when the surrounding non-Indian communities thought less of us as fellow human beings, to becoming a thriving community with a modern infrastructure and an economic force not only in the surrounding counties, but regionally. 

In my almost 29 years as our community's chairperson, over half my life has been dedicated to steering this community in what I think is the right direction. Sure, we’ve got a long way to go, and we’ve not always been perfect, but the positive things we accomplish—the successes I witness from our tribal membership and see in the hope and determination on their faces—is the driving force that keeps me enthused and energized, and provides the gratification in an otherwise mundane and boring job.

Thank you. 

Photographs above courtesy of the Hannahville Indian Community. Used with permission.

To read other interviews in this series, click on the banner below. 

From left to right: Representative Ponka-We Victors (Tohono O’odham/Southern Ponca) taking the oath of office in the Kansas House of Representatives; photo courtesy of Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache) at the Sundance Film Festival; photo courtesy of WireImage. Sergeant Debra Mooney (Choctaw) at the powwow in Al Taqaddum Air Force Base, Iraq, 2004; photo courtesy of Sgt. Debra Mooney. Councilman Jonathan Perry (Wampanoag) in traditional clothing; photo courtesy of Jonathan Perry. Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee) at Blackhorse et al. v. Pro Football, Inc., press conference, U.S. Patent and Trade Office, February 7, 2013; photo courtesy of Mary Phillips. All images used with permission. 

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March 31, 2014

Anishinaabe Artist Maria Hupfield Takes a Crack at the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt in New York


Maria Process 2
It's difficult to believe that 260-something, two-and-a-half-foot-tall eggs created by artists could be hard to find in New York City, but they will. And they'll be fun to find, too. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Forget oysters. For Brooklyn-based performance artist Maria Hupfield (Wasauksing First Nation) right now, the world is her egg. And she’s hopeful New Yorkers will have fun finding it.

A little confused? Don't be. The mystery surrounding what is likely to become one of the most popular Big Apple springtime events will be revealed when the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt kicks off tomorrow, April 1. Earlier hunts garnered much attention in the U.K. and Ireland. This year marks the event’s New York City debut.

Here’s how it will work: The organizers of the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt challenged more than 260 globally renowned artists, designers, and creatives—including Hupfield—to transform two-and-a-half-foot egg forms into compelling three-dimensional artistic masterpieces. The eggs are placed in secret locations “high and low” throughout the five boroughs. From April 1 through 17, the public is invited to take part in the hunt via a special smart-phone app, with incredible gemstone prizes from Fabergé serving as an incentive. From April 18 through 25, all the eggs will be on view in a free public exhibition at Rockefeller Center. 

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Left: Performance artist Maria Hupfield at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York. Right: Bandolier bag with Woodland decoration (detail), made by Hupfield of industrial felt. Photos by Paul Niemi, NMAI.

Hupfield’s personal work explores universal conditions, locating the body in relationship to self, objects, and place. She was a logical choice to participate, not only because she has made a name for herself internationally with work featured at New York's Museum of Arts and Design and the Vancouver Art Gallery in the last couple of years, but also because of her lifelong immersion in craft. Craft was a big part of her upbringing as a member of the Wasauksing First Nation in Ontario, Canada. She is descended from a line of “makers,'” as she calls them—Hupfield’s father is a boat-builder, and many of her aunts make traditional quill boxes.

Hupfield creates beauty out of practical materials. Photos courtesy of the artist.

Accustomed to replicating everyday objects (a camera, for instance) in gray industrial felt for her art practice, Hupfield explains that she likes to think with her hands—to create things that show practicality as well as real aesthetic appreciation. “I work across different disciplines,” she says. Some of her pieces stand alone, sculpturally; others are used in performance to “activate them.”

When it came to cracking the design of her big egg, Hupfield admits, “I have never created something of that scale.” Hupfield’s traditional Anishinaabe culture, though, outweighed her lack of large-scale project experience. “My artwork is about ideas that are greatly informed by my upbringing and where I come from.” She recently used traditional Eastern Woodland floral patterns to adorn objects used in performance pieces that celebrate the exhibition Before and after the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes, on view at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York through June 13. Hupfield found great inspiration in the innate shape of the egg and went to work translating the her relief designs. 

Hupfield's sculpture dons its gray flannel suit—a clever disguise for an artwork that hopes to pass as just another businessegg in the city. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Hupfield contends that while she was given the same form as other artists, her egg offers something a little bit different. “It’s soft, huggable, and beautiful. You won’t necessarily be able to touch it, but there’s definitely a sense of tactileness,” she explains. “I'm excited to see how people respond to it.”

She’ll have to wait. Once ten people have found her egg, its location will be revealed. For now, not even Hupfield has an inkling where that may be. Event organizers expect the locations of all the eggs to go public by the end of the first week. 

One important thing you can know now is that the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt in New York is a charity event. Each egg will be auctioned off to the public online, with bidding beginning April 1 on the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt website. Funds raised this year will go to support Elephant Family and Studio in a School. 

Starting April 1, the event website is also the easiest place to go to download the egg hunt app.

So, where would you hide a two-and-a-half foot egg? 

For more information on the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt, please visit thebigegghunt.org/

Twitter & Instagram @thebiggegghuntNY & #thebigegghuntNY


—Paul Niemi

Paul Niemi is an arts and culture writer and a Museum Ambassador at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York. The quotations in this piece are from Paul’s recent interview with Maria Hupfield at the museum.

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March 30, 2014

This Day in the Maya Calendar: April 2014

Cholq'ij, the Maya sacred ceremonial calendar of 260 days—a cycle of 20 Day deities and 13 numbers—is the basis of the Maya spirituality that survives to this time, practiced daily among millions of Maya people, in thousands of communities. The interpretation of the days can vary from one Maya people to another. The interpretations given here are based on sustained conversations and participation over three decades with Maya Q'eqchi calendar priest Roderico Teni and daykeeping families in the area of Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, by Jose Barreiro (Taíno), head of NMAI’s Office of Latin America, and his wife, Katsi Cook (Mohawk). Glyphs representing the Day lords appear throughout Maya Country; these were painted by Esteban Pop Caal (Q'eqchi Maya) of Cobán.

For more background to this series, please see Jose's introduction, "Living in the Practice." For further insight into the role of the Day lords in everyday life, please see the Maya Journal. For the complete year so far, please see the Maya calendar archive.

Illustrations: Esteban Pop Caal (Q'eqchi Maya), calendar glyphs. Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala; 2003. Paint on wood. Purchased from the artist. 26/2685. Photos by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI 

6 Aqbal  | Friday, April 18, 2014

262685_AqbalCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 6 Aqbal. Aqbal is the Dawn, also Bat; 6 is a middle, even number. Aqbal is clarity, the separation of darkness and light as the Sun disperses the fog and obscurity of night. This is a good day to ask for a peaceful and happy daybreak, a day to find hidden and lost things, a day to wash away tears of sadness. On Aqbal, the sacred fire is recognized and appreciated. Aqbal is a good day to clean the ashes (renew the heart) of a fireplace and to present a new baby to el Mundo. A potential bride or groom can be revealed on this day. Harvesting of corn can begin on this day. People born on Aqbal relate in the present and are a special link between past and future. They are early risers, good workers, tranquil and kind, strong before an enemy, good researchers and finders of hidden things, often called "the candle of the home." —Jose Barreiro 

5 Iq  | Thursday, April 17, 2014

262685_IqCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 5 Iq. Iq is Wind, also Moon; 5 is one hand. Wind is powerful, violent, driven of itself, identity. A day of strong emotion, Iq is also a healing day. Good wind is nutritional for human minds; it is the mystic breath and vital inspiration of nature. On Iq, a breeze or wind that splits against your face is a blessing and a cleansing to purge your head and body of illness. Respiratory ills are prayed over on this day. This is a good day to appreciate all of Creation. The Day lord Iq is one of the four Yearbearers, or mams, a creator who helped finish the world and put breath (essence) in human beings. People born on Iq are inclined toward spiritual ways and can impulsively tap into cosmic sources. —J. B.  

4 Imox  |  Wednesday, April 16, 2014

262685_ImoxCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 4 Imox. Imox is Lizard; 4 is a balance. Imox is the very force of gravity and a good day to pray for creativity and for rain. Imox can open el Mundo to receive cosmic messages. Known as a "crazy" day, Imox requires much concentration and control. A day of high male intelligence, also impatience and agitation, Imox can be difficult. Grounded on its left side, left arm, this day is easily unbalanced and in need of clasping by left and right hands. Imox can be good if held in the balance of the Heart of Sky and Heart of Earth; unattended, Imox can manifest imbalance, mental nervousness, and even death. People born on Imox are open and sincere, but indecisive—in need of ceremony to set the positive to override the negative. —J. B. 

3 Ajpu  |  Tuesday, April 15, 2014

262685_AjpuCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 3 Ajpu. Ajpu is Caracol, Spiral Shell; 3 is a rotor. Ajpu is the Sun, captain of time, a day of personal strength and for good to triumph over evil. Ajpu, who cares for boys and guides men, begins the men's cycle. This is a day to connect with the ancestors, who can reward and punish. Death is reachable and amenable; spirits can ask permission to enter el Mundo, the living world. Day of the warrior and blowgun hunter (cerbatanero), Ajpu is the strong blow of the dart that hits its target, a good day to pray for stealth or for a break in enemy lines. Ajpu is also a good day to start building on a house, a good day to make prayers for women and for success in lactation. —J. B. 

2 Kawoq  |  Monday, April 14, 2014 

262685_KawoqCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 2 Kawoq. Kawoq is Turtle, also Sky Serpent; 2 is duality. Kawoq is a high woman day—a day of duality in all of nature and a guardian of contentment. It is the day of woman and man, lightning and thunder, fecundity and imagination; a day of midwives; a day of prayer for unity within the home, strength within the family, renewed strength for convalescents, and the smoothing of all irritation. This is a good day to turn bad medicine back on itself. Kawoq attends to young women in pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and to full realization for all women; it is a day of their sash. Kawoq is also a good day to commemorate the Staff of Authority, a good day for the men of a family and community to pray for the coffers (good fortune) of the women and for the protection of the home. Good midwives, writers, and architects are born on this day. —J. B. 

1 Tijax  |  Sunday, April 13, 2014

262685_TijaxCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 1 Tijax. Tijax is Fish, also Obsidian; 1 is the beginning. Tijax is a day of doctors, good to pray for surgeons and all medical practitioners; a day of sacrifice and liberation from suffering; a day of sharp, cutting objects, of knives and scalpels and scissors. Tijax is a safeguard for domestic animals against predators, a good day to pray for all animals that are sacrificed, both in ceremony and in everyday life. Tijax is a good day to use metal (a machete, scissors) to "open the sky"—to solicit rain, solicit life, split black clouds. Gossip, calumny, and sorcery, on money and sexual matters, can be overcome on this day; on a high-number day, disputes can turn public and become debilitating. Tijax is a good day for seasoned masters to fortify daykeeping trainees against ridicule by envious countrymen or evangelicos. It is not a good day to plant. —J. B. 

13 Noj  |  Saturday, April 12, 2014

262685_NojCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 13 Noj. Noj is Woodpecker; 13 is the highest turbulence. Noj is a woman's highest intelligence. Maya knowledge and wisdom live in this day—good science to support positive deeds, good projects, good business, a good home. On Noj good ideas are available through the intelligence connected to the movement of the earth. Boys born on this day have important female qualities and can be attentive to the knowledge of nature, which rules all. Girls born on this day can be clear leaders. This is a good day to hear advice and make decisions, a good day to feed the mind, recognize curiosity, and strengthen memory. Noj is one of the four Yearbearers. —J. B. 

12 Ajmac  |  Friday, April 11, 2014

262685_KatCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 12 Ajmac. Ajmac is Bee, also Vulture; 12 is the highest balance. On Ajmac ancestor spirits can detect and smooth the thread of time in our lives. Prudence, intelligence, ancient wisdom are in this day. This is a day to plead forgiveness for serious faults and to be judged. It is a day that demands moral rectitude, respect, and sincere analysis. On this day our faults (stains) must be faced and paid for; humble request for pity is encouraged. Ajmac is a propitious day for the women of a household to make peace with one another after conflict, to apologize for sharp words; it is a good day to pray for smooth relationships and the renewal of agreements among women. Hard luck can face those born on Ajmac. —J. B.  

11 Tz'ikin  |  Thursday, April 10, 2014

262685_Tz'ikinCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 11 Tz'ikin. Tz'ikin is Bird, best represented by the Hummingbird, also the Quetzal and Eagle; 11 is high turbulence. Tz'ikin carries messages between the Heart of Earth and Heart of Sky. Cold, heat, light, air, cloud are its elements. Love, intuition, precognition are strong in those born on this day. Tz'ikin is a good day for humans to follow birds to the corn—to find good material luck. This is a good day to ask for revelation and intelligence, for vision, and for abundance; a good day to ask for collaboration in projects or for personal freedom. On this day, women have the privilege to ask for their husbands and sons to triple the family money. —J. B.  

10 I'x  |  Wednesday, April 9, 2014 


Corresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 10 I'x. I'x is Jaguar; 10 is a high balance. I'x is woman's energy day. This is a day to connect with your own land and to pray for its original owners; to pray for and appreciate your house; to pray for the finances to buy and sustain land; to ask for fertility in humans and animals; to request vigor and strength for reproductive organs, particularly female. I'x is a good day to pray to the mountains in favor of the land. It is a good day for a woman to request strength in her husband's commitment to matrimonial stability. People born on I'x have a close relationship to el Mundo and receive good access to precious metals. I'x is a good day for solitude and meditation. —J. B.  

9 Aj  |  Tuesday, April 8, 2014 

262685_AjCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 9 Aj. Aj is Cane Reed; 9 is a triple rotor. Aj begins the women's cycle, sentiments of family and home, the spinal cord. Aj is life and receives life. This is a day of resurgence and renewal, as in the reed and the corn; a day for the triumph of good over evil, life over death; a day of happiness, renewal of food, money, the heart of life. People born on this day renew their communities; they are sickly as children and sturdy as adults; they are especially lucky; they are good awakeners of their families and communities; they make good midwives. Aj is a good day to ask for clarity of destiny, a good day to pray for the protection of your life and of the newborn, a good day to pray for twins, a good day to pray for humanity. —J. B. 

8 Eh  |  Monday, April 7, 2014

262685_EhCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 8 Eh. Eh is Bobcat, also the Path and the Tooth; 8 is a double balance. Eh can orient individuals, groups, or communities to their destiny. Eh is the day to ask for protection from dangers and obstructions during travels—specifically, that on your road the attention of thieves or highway police or border inspectors will be deviated from your trajectory. Solitude is in Eh, light rain, kindness, alignment. People born on this day can be good counselors, spiritual guides with the gift of prayer to Ajaw (Creator) on the destiny of things. Also, good dentists are born on this day. Eh is one of the four pillars of the 20 days, a Yearbearer—a strong, especially sacred day. A prayer started in Batz can be carried by Eh through the full cycle of 20 days. —J. B. 

7 Batz  |  Sunday, April 6, 2014

262685_BatzCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 7 Batz. Batz is Monkey; 7 is a pivotal number. Monkey braid, monkey fingers, monkey tail, Batz is the grasp of the monkey's hand so tight and braided the fist will not let go, even in death. Batz is a good day for beginnings, and for some Maya daykeepers, Batz begins the 20-day calendar. Batz is unity, a good day to tie things together, a good day for a marriage or to start a construction, a good day for initiation into the ways. Batz is the thread of time that rolls out from under the earth, weaving life until cut, weaving time into history. People born on Batz are calm and self-confident; they make good spiritual guides and leaders, and goodhearted architects. —J. B. 

6 Tzi  |  Saturday, April 5, 2014

6a01156f5f4ba1970b019b04c65ab2970d-200wiCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 6 Tzi. Tzi is the Canine, the guardian; 6 is a middle, even number. Dog, Wolf, Coyote, Tzi can be snarly, terrifying the unprepared with his bark and his bite. Tzi people are zealous to guard the sacredness of ceremony, to identify and punish "intruders," those not disciplined to participate. Benevolent to friends and fierce to enemies, Tzi is steady to reward or punish. Tzi will punish those who disrespect the Days and the spirit of the family. This is a good day to ask for mystic insight for leaders so that they can seek and discover hidden things, so that they can be just. Tzi has strong sexual energy, hard to restrain. When this energy is defined, people born on Tzi make loyal friends, husbands, and wives. —J. B. 

5 Toj  |  Friday,  April 4, 2014

262685_TojCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 5 Toj. Toj is the mystic Fish—the tear of jade and drops of rain, water falling; 5 is one hand. Toj is a day of making even, a good day to pay spiritual and financial debts and to collect what you are owed. This is a day of evenness for a family, a good day for parents to pay the family's debt to el Mundo, good for the oldest son to appreciate the father and the father to appreciate the mountain. Illness can be deviated from the family by making a ceremonial offering on this day. —J. B. 

4 Anil  |  Thursday, April 3, 2014

262685_AnilCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 4 Anil. Anil is the fertility in the seed, Anil is Rabbit; 4 is a balance. Anil is red, white, yellow, black—the four colors of corn, the seed of life that is the unity of the world. Anil is renewal after death, regeneration of the earth. Anil people are four-directions people and can be good travelers. This is a day of coming back, a day to generate and appreciate abundance, a day of declaring love to create a new relationship, a day to announce the wish to do business, a day of finding lost things, a day to ask for help in overcoming shyness. —J. B. 

3 Kiej  |  Wednesday, April 2, 2014 

262685_KiejCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 3 Kiej. Kiej is the Deer; 3 is a rotor. Kiej is the four directions, four hoofs striking the earth at once, the quaternity of the cosmos linked to prayer, highest aviso to el Mundo—the living world. Kiej is the staff of authority, keen energy of a chief to detect danger, perception of the leader buck, his horns. Kiej is a good day to pray for mental and physical agility, a day of agile travelers and good communicators. It is a day also to ask for clarity before gossip and ill intentions. A major gift of nature, Kiej holds indefatigable energy. He is one of the four main carriers of time. —J. B.  

2 Kame  |  Tuesday, April 1, 2014 

262685_KameCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 2 Kame. Kame is the Owl and the recognition of death; 2 is duality. A day that recalls the night, tranquility, and silence, Kame is a good day to ask for the ancient and recent ancestors who have gone on, to thank them, and to remember them with purpose. This is an appropriate day to extend reconciliation, to feel and give forgiveness, to develop patience, to invoke against mortal illnesses, to access superior knowledge. Without fear, it is a good day to approach the spiritual dimension, "the enchantment." —J. B.  

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