Showing Phipps Gallery Hudson, WI till 2-21-2021

You will Relocate

Feb 10 -Artist Talk zoom

The scene: September 1930- The Anishinaabe Wild Rice camp is empty. Everyone is down by the water, ricing, when the fires are started.

-Push the press me button at the art piece for a surprise.

Historical Explanation:

A 5 by 3-foot multi-media story board illustrating half of an Anishinaabe Wild Rice Camp burning. This art piece embodies the devastation of displacement.  It represents the centuries Native Americans have been bullied and forced to relocate off their ancestral land. Thousands upon thousands of native people have been displaced since red and white relations began some centuries back. Each person, village, and tribe have their own stories. For this art piece I choose stories close to home creating the setting in MN during the 20th century. Framed below are two historical accounts of displacement that influenced the story I have portrayed here.

   I.    Displaced
     they were warned 
     the ancestral land 
     was wanted
     Relocate Chippewa
      echoed the feds

     wigwams to shacks
     tarpaper and scraps 
     it took five years
     till the last family left
     bullied by fires 
     the people scattered
     for now.

II.  You Will Relocate because…
on November 1935

President Franklin D Roosevelt established the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge near McGregor, Minnesota to preserve habitat for waterfowl. In other words, the refuge was to be reserved for hunting and bird watching with no regard to the people who had lived along her waters and gathered her resources for hundreds of years. Families that depended on this land for survival. Many relocated while a few stood grounds. The last family left in 1939.

 III.  Rice Lake Anishinaabe
   District II of the Mille Lacs band of Chippewa

They were never compensated for the land wrongfully taken. Determined they slowly built their community again by buying one piece of land at a time forming East Lake community. In 1946, the boundaries of the Mille Lacs reservation were adjusted to include East Lake and Sandy Lake communities. They became known as the district II of the Mille Lacs band of Chippewa.

Rice Lake Anishinaabe kept their treaty rights to gather sacred manoomin (wild rice) on Rice Lake but could never live on their ancestral land again. Although, ricing was not easy or safe when sawed-off shotguns stood in the way. The Rice Lake Anishinaabe would not be stopped. Legally they had every right and they fought in court and won.

The Rice Lakers are teachers, historians, and storytellers. Generations of Ogichidaag – warriors fighting to protect family, a way of life like Hole-in-the-Day from the1800s to the Aubid brothers- late 20th century into the 21st fighting for the rights of people and the land.

Today, the East Lake community is stronger than ever. As for ricing, they still run into opposition, but primarily they are left alone to harvest Manoomin like their ancestors. Ricing is in their blood.

-River Maria Urke


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