Ralph Frese canoe at the at Skokie Lagoon. (Photo credit: John Low)
On May 30th I had the opportunity to visit Northwestern University and the folks affiliated with the Humanities without Walls grant group organized by Dr. Kelly Wisecup to discuss canoes and the relations of the Potawatomi people to the Chicago area. Specifically, I spoke about how the geography of the area made it a perfect place for Wigwas Jiimaan (birch bark canoes). Echicagou (Chicago) is at the North-South continental divide and with the many rivers there the first peoples of the region could travel east to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence river, west to the Mississippi and then north to Minnesota, west along the Missouri River, east along the Ohio River or south all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
We were able to secure a canoe made by Ralph Frese to also talk about the Chicago American Indian Center’s Canoe Club which revived canoeing in Chicago in the 1960’s and 1970’s. We put canoes in at Skokie Lagoon to try out the magic of canoeing and the day was completed with a workshop led by Dr. Margaret Pearce on mapping Indigenous homelands.
It was a great opportunity for me to make new friends and see old friends too. Thank you to everyone for your kind hospitality on a memorable journey.
I was honored to give an Armour Lecture yesterday June 5 at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. I spoke on the power of native baskets and the importance of the Black Ash Basket Coop to the Pokagon Potawatomi community. Highlighted were cofounders Julia Wesaw, Agnes Rapp, Judy Augusta, and Rae Daugherty.
I was also honored to be invited to guest curate a temporary exhibit on Black Ash baskets at the Field Museum scheduled for Autumn 2021.
Many thanks to my hosts Alaka Wali, Debra Yepa-Pappan, and Eli Suzukovich for their kind hospitality and to everyone who came out for my talk! Chi Migwetch!
When Pokagon history professor John Low Ph.D., heard that The Field Museum in Chicago would embark on a project to revamp its dated Native North America Exhibit Hall, he brought that to the attention of the tribe’s Traditions and Repatriation Committee and the Department of Language & Culture. Committee members Christine and Gary Morseau and Jason S. Wesaw, as well as Marcus Winchester, director, and Blaire Topash-Caldwell, archivist, from the Department, went to view the museum’s collection. They met with Debra Yepa-Pappan, a Pueblo artist and community engagement coordinator for the Native American exhibit renovation project at the museum, who asked for Pokagon participation in the project. Topash-Caldwell is now serving on the committee reviewing the museum’s renovation.
Recently, Winchester spoke at a ceremony dedicating and installing an acknowledgment of the original inhabitants of the land the museum occupies. The new plaque sits in a garden full of native plants and states: “The Field Museum resides on the traditional homelands of the Three Fires Confederacy: Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi. The area was also a site of trade, travel and healing for more than a dozen other native tribes.”
It is a “much, much needed renovation,” Field president and CEO Richard Lariviere said in the Chicago Tribune’s article about the ceremony and project. “This project intends to correct the way the museum tells the Native American history by doing so through the lens and voices of Native Americans.”
“It means a lot for such an influential museum in the United States to put themselves out there and acknowledge indigenous people as traditional land owners,” Winchester said after the ceremony that included a hand drum singer and a jingle dress dancer.
“I met people from other museums there,” he said. “I would most definitely like to see other museums follow their lead.”
The museum’s current exhibit will remain open throughout the three-year overhaul, with fall of 2021 as the targeted completion date.
I wanted to thank everyone at the Snite Museum of Art for their kind hospitality. I also wanted to thank my co-speaker, Christine Rapp-Morseau. Above is a pic of Christine speaking (I am to the left). I also received nice comments. Thank you to all who attended!
Posted with permission:
Dear Christine and John,
Thank you for all of the time and thought you put into making Saturday’s program such a success. I have heard from many people since how much they enjoyed the event and how much they learned (me included!). I especially appreciated the generous ways in which you each worked to make your particular areas of expertise accessible to a general audience.
Snite Museum of Art
University of Notre Dame
And a note from Christine:
Migwetth Frances. I think it worked great together. John’s slide show was very informative and made me emotional seeing my grandmother, my teacher on screen. Much thanks for your work at the Snite Museum. I didn’t really understand some of the art there until your colleague/friend explained to me in detail about them. It was amazing and took on a whole new meaning to me. Job well done Frances, I loved it!
The Ball State University Anthropology Student Symposium held Friday, March 31, 2017: Muncie, Indiana.
I was honored to provide a keynote address and was most impressed with the quality of student scholarship at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at BSU! Thank you again to everyone who I had the pleasure to meet at the daylong event!
At the conference I gave a presentation Simon Pokagon – Pokagon Potawatomi: Storyteller & Writer which was very well received. There are 58 ethnic minorities in China and they struggle with many of the same issues (language and cultural preservation, etc.) as my own tribal nation. My hosts at the conference were wonderful and very kind. It was my first trip to China and I look forward to returning in the future. The opportunities for collaboration and alliance with other indigenous people on a global level is inspiring.
The International Symposium on World Minority Literature was held on the campus of Southwest University for Nationalities (西南民族大学; SWUN), Oct. 29, 2016 in Chengdu, Sichuan. The sponsoring units were Southwest University for Nationalities and the China Ethnic Literature Society (中国少数民族文学学会). Over 40 speakers delivered papers under the headings of Oral Tradition and World Ethnic Minority Literature, Multiple Narratives and World Ethnic Minority Literature, Cross-ethnic Interaction and World Ethnic Minority Literature, and General Topics.
The chair of the meeting was Prof. Luo Qingchun (aka Aku Wuwu), dean of the Yi College at SWUN. Speakers included Prof. Wang Feng, Vice-chair of China Ethnic Literature Society, Prof. Xu Xinjian of Sichuan University, Ai Lian, Director of Sichuan Provincial Academy of Social Sciences and Secretary General of the association of Literary Critics, Native American scholar John N. Low of The Ohio State University, and others. ~ Mark Bender (The Ohio State University)
Eighth Generation, the first Native-owned company to offer wool blankets, has released a video preview of their collaborative blanket with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi (Dowagiac, MI). The Seattle-based small business has been offering wool blankets since October 2015. This groundbreaking project is Eighth Generation’s first collaboration with a tribe, and it demonstrates what is possible when Native people have ownership over all aspects of the development and manufacturing process.
On Wednesday, March 16th, I had the opportunity to meet with interested students and faculty at the University of Notre Dame to discuss Imprints and do a reading from it. Everyone there was very kind and the Native American Student Assosciation of Notre Dame (NASAND) on campus honored me with a gift of a Pendleton “Chief Joseph” blanket before the event. Afterwards, I also had the opportunity to have dinner with Brian Collier, Coordinator of Supervision and Instruction at the University, and officers of the NASAND. I really appreciated the questions asked and the opportunity to share some of my experiences and research, as well as, hearing of the experiences for American Indian students and those interested in American Indian Studies at Notre Dame.
John N. Low, JD, Ph.D.
With Notre Dame students and their wonderful gift. L to R: Dominic Acri, James Weitzel, me, and Rosalie DePaola.