Art tells Native American story In this Monday Oct. 10, 2016, photo, Craig Howe, executive director of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies, talks about one of the 16 pieces that are part of a traveling art exhibit now on display in Sioux Falls, S.D. (AP Photo/Regina Garcia Cano)
Art tells Native American story
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A traveling exhibit that pairs Native American art with passages of a traditional story narrating the emergence of the Lakota people in the Black Hills of South Dakota is on display in Sioux Falls.
 
The exhibit, titled "Lakota Emergence," presents the traditional belief that the ancestors of the Lakota people emerged to this world through what is now known as Wind Cave National Park in southwest South Dakota. It divides the story into 16 passages, pairing each chapter with a piece created by a Lakota artist specifically for this project.
 
"We do a lot of work trying to mitigate racism, and so, one idea was to do an exhibit not with that as its intention but with that as a possible outcome," said Craig Howe, executive director of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies. "The hope is that people are excited about this narrative. It shows a narrative that is linked to a particular place in our state, the Black Hills, and is a shared landscape. All of us know that landscape, Indians and non-Indians. The exhibit foregrounds that place."
 
The Lakota are one of three divisions of Native Americans that the French referred to as the Sioux. The division involves seven tribal nations in the northern Great Plains.
 
The 1,251-word narrative at the center of the exhibit was gathered by a physician serving the Pine Ridge area and published almost a century ago by the American Museum of Natural History. The story includes tales of deception, love, shame, misery and risks.
 
Howe's organization, which is based on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, acknowledges that the narrative is one of only two stories out of the dozens gathered by the physician James Walker not attributed specifically to the spiritual leaders or others who shared information with him. But, Howe said, a careful reading of the narrative correlates with other Lakota stories, suggesting that the narrative originated with the Lakotas and was not made up by Walker.
 
The traveling exhibit now on display at Avera Health's Prairie Center in Sioux Falls consists of panels that show true-to-size photos of the original exhibit, which debuted in Rapid City last year. The organization created it because the panels require far less care than the original collection that includes paintings, wood carving work, a glass mosaic and mixed media pieces.
 
Howe said his organization's goal is to take the traveling exhibit to tribal schools and other venues, such as Avera's medical center, to teach children and adults this traditional story.
 
"We really were trying to get to this point where we could have two exhibits; a museum quality exhibit that can go to any museum in the United States or the world and a traveling version that can go to communities to get this in front of Lakota people," Howe said. "Most American Indians don't know this narrative. Most Lakotas don't know the narrative. They know a little bit about it, but here's a chance it can be educational for community people."

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COMMENTS (21)
  • jacek2-man
    11/03/2016 - 03:45 p.m.

    Its crazy to see how people from that long ago expressed how they live by paintings. Now we can see how they lived and their struggles

  • divadb1-man
    11/03/2016 - 03:45 p.m.

    When paintings have a meaning people can forget their differences and be amused by how well the work is that they are looking at.

  • pilarj-cel
    11/04/2016 - 01:37 a.m.

    Just like the saying, " A picture can tell 1,000 words", art can make people think and gives there own opinions of how they view a certain topic. Art can reduce racism through the message that is shown the object or painting. Everyone has individual thoughts though so one piece of art could have many different messages according to the person.

  • noahr-ste
    11/11/2016 - 12:49 p.m.

    Art has a way of connecting to all types of people in different ways. It is all about the way people see art to be able to make out what you think the story behind it is.

  • braydinmehrman-dia
    11/16/2016 - 09:23 a.m.

    art can bring people together

  • jacindamichek-dia
    11/16/2016 - 09:24 a.m.

    Art can reduce racism because it can spread more awareness with painted stories about people's pain about having to go through people being racist to them.

  • jacksonschwartz-dia
    11/16/2016 - 09:24 a.m.

    by showing different cultures

  • haileylange-dia
    11/16/2016 - 09:25 a.m.

    The art tells a story. Anyone can relate to a story- in relating to stories, people have a better understanding and are more accepting.

  • lillianclancy-dia
    11/16/2016 - 10:54 a.m.

    I can get people excited about this narrative.

  • lillianclancy-dia
    11/16/2016 - 10:55 a.m.

    it can get people excited about this narrative.

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