“BDOTE MEMORY MAP” PART OF ‘shadows traces undercurrents’ EXHIBITION AT KATHERINE NASH GALLERY IN MINNEAPOLIS
(SAINT PAUL, Minn., Nov. 8, 2012) – The Bdote Memory Map–an introduction to some traditional Dakota sites in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area focused on the bdote, or confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers–is part of “shadows traces undercurrents: Mapping Spectral Traces VI,” a group exhibition of artworks in a variety of media that ‘map’ the unseen and unacknowledged past that continues to structure present-day social relations.
The exhibition is on view through Friday, Nov. 16, at Katherine E. Nash Gallery (405 21st Avenue, South) Minneapolis. Hours are Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
The Bdote Memory Map–a unique and artful educational tool intended for all ages, but especially targeted toward educators and students–is on view at the beginning of the exhibition, setting the stage for the content encountered throughout the galleries. In the Dakota language bdote is generally defined as a place where two bodies of water meet. One particular site, at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers in the middle of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, is sacred to the Dakota people, since for them it is the center of the world – the place where, according to some, Dakota life began.
The exhibition and the related “Mapping Spectral Traces” symposium and Dakota Home event bring together an international group of artists, scholars and community leaders who work with and in traumatized communities, contested lands and diverse environments. Some of the artists are members of the international network Mapping Spectral Traces (www.mappingspectraltraces.org).
“The inclusion of Bdote Memory Map in this exhibition is particularly relevant this year, which is the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War, and there is so much that non-Dakota people don’t know about the Dakota people’s original homelands of Mni Sota,” says Mona Smith (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Dakota), one of the participating artists and owner of Allies: media/art. Allies: media/art and the Minnesota Humanities Center partnered to develop the Bdote Memory Map. Smith also is a member of Mapping Spectral Traces International Network.
About Bdote Memory Map
The Bdote Memory Map website, http://www.bdotememorymap.org, includes maps with place names in Dakota and English and several compelling videos, including “Telling River Stories,” which combines contemporary and historic photography with personal statements about bdote in the voices of Dakota people. Among the most emotional parts of video are the remembrances focused on Fort Snelling, Saint Paul, built at the bdote of the two rivers, which was used as a concentration camp for hundreds of Dakota people following the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862. The video is shown on the website with permission by the River Life project of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. It is now available as “The Bdote Podcast,” downloadable from the University of Minnesota at http://goo.gl/1k5W1.
Other short videos on the website feature: Dave Larsen, (Mdewakanton Dakota), tribal historian, educator, former tribal chairman of Lower Sioux Indian Community and former director of American Indian Affairs at MNSU/Mankato; Diane Wilson, author and Dakota descendant; Ramona Stately (Santee Dakota), coordinator for Indian education, Osseo School District 279; and Sydney Beane (Flandreau Santee), filmmaker and community developer.
The website also includes an audio glossary, so that visitors can learn how to pronounce several Dakota words and phrases. In another video, Chris Mato Nunpa (Pezutazizi Oyate/Upper Sioux Community), Ph.D., retired associate professor of Indigenous Nations and Dakota Studies at Southwestern Minnesota State University/Marshall, delivers a traditional Dakota greeting.
The Bdote Memory Map also has been converted for use on Internet connected mobile devices. “Now you can take the voices of Dakota people with you when you visit these special places,” says Smith. Bdote Memory Map resources also are on Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, Tumblr an Flickr.
“The Humanities Center’s goal of amplifying the Bdote Memory Map is education; specifically, a deeper more meaningful student-teacher relationship since we know students experience greater academic success when they see themselves and their lived experiences reflected in the classroom,” says Matthew Brandt, vice president, Minnesota Humanities Center. “The Bdote Memory Map helps teachers bring into their classrooms, in an authentic and real way, the significance of the Bdote area, learning from Dakota people the significance of their relationship to the place we now call Minnesota.”
History of the Bdote Memory Map Project
The Bdote Memory Map began as a part of the "City Indians" multi-media installation at Ancient Traders Gallery on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis in 2005. On one wall of the gallery a large, stylized, painted map of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area (centered on the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers) invited visitors to add their own written memories and stories of traditional Dakota sites to the map. A small number of traditional sites were shown on the map by their Dakota names and illustrated by historical photographs.
The intent of the Memory Map portion of the “City Indians” installation was to express the historic and continued connection of Dakota people to places familiar to citizens and visitors of the area.
“Introduction of traditional and sometimes sacred places erased in public community memory is important to the task of recognizing this region as Dakota homeland,” said Smith. “This ‘re-cognition’ is important for the healing of the Dakota people, of the non-Native residents of the area and of Mnisota Makoce herself.” More information about the projects can be found at http://www.alliesmediaart.com.
About the Minnesota Humanities Center
Focused on the future of the state, the Humanities Center brings the unique resources of the humanities to the challenges and opportunities of our times. We work in partnership across the state to build thoughtful, literate, and engaged citizens. With the unique resources of the humanities, the Center builds community and brings into public life the untold stories that deepen our connections to each other and help us imagine and create a vibrant future. Visit http://www.mnhum.org.
About Allies: media/art
Founded in 1996 as a limited liability company, Allies: media/art is a Dakota-owned and award-winning private company located in Minneapolis that specializes in media, art production, research and writing services. Visit http://www.alliesmediaart.com.