Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe hosts art exhibit on missing and murdered women

Emilee Geist

MOUNT PLEASANT, MI — The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s new art exhibition addressing missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) is having its virtual grand opening this week. Entitled “Boontak! (Stop it!): Stolen Daughters of Turtle Island,” the community-curated exhibit is to have its online opening at noon […]

MOUNT PLEASANT, MI — The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s new art exhibition addressing missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) is having its virtual grand opening this week.

Entitled “Boontak! (Stop it!): Stolen Daughters of Turtle Island,” the community-curated exhibit is to have its online opening at noon on Friday, Sept. 25, at the tribe’s Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways, 6650 E. Broadway Road in Mount Pleasant. The virtual grand opening will be presented on www.sagchip.org.

“The exhibition seeks to raise awareness about the atrocities of the MMIWG crisis impacting Tribal communities across Turtle Island,” the tribe stated in a press release. Turtle Island is a term for Earth or North America in many Native American and Indigenous tribes.

The exhibit features 94 portraits of North American Indian women and girls, including one of U. S. Representative Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, who volunteered to represent those who are missing and/or deceased.

Saginaw Chippewa photographer Marcella Hadden and her granddaughter Christina Benz took the photographs over the course of three months in 2019. The exhibition also features the following original artworks:

Luverne Adamson, “Highway of Tears,” acrylic painting

Shirley Brauker, “Gone,” ledger drawing

Dr. Suzanne Cross, MMIWG beaded medallion, shawl and skirt

Jenny Davis, “Birth of Deer Woman,” graphic art

Joe Fisher, “She Dreamt,” MMIWG sculpture

Glenna Jenkins, MMIWG beaded medallion

Nickole Keith, “Nnoshé, My Maternal Aunt,” painting

Joey Kennedy, “No More MMIW,” earrings

Nayana LaFond, “Stacey” and “Shiloh,” two acrylic paintings

Diane Leksche, “Kaleidoscope Facets: Standing Tall Breeze,” stained glass art mandala

Aryl Ruffino, two photographic canvasses

Roger High, Sarah Hughes and Ellie Van Horn, MMIWG quilt

Angela Peters and Ellie Mitchell , MMIWG jingle dress

Allyssa Shawboose, Niintam Na? (Am I next?), animation

“MMIWG is affecting every Indigenous community,” the tribe continued. “Therefore, in 2019 the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan’s community formed the MMIWG Committee to acknowledge and address this epidemic of violence. The exhibit, both somber and hopeful, seeks to express the pain of the epidemic, draw attention to MMIWG cold cases, reduce future disappearances and deaths, and offer a point of healing. This exhibit illuminates the devastating impact of these losses within Indigenous communities. The Saginaw Chippewa’s MMIWG Committee believes this crisis is a larger human rights issue which we must all work to confront.”

“The MMIWG exhibit is one way of calling attention to the injustices of Indigenous women and girls across Turtle Island,” said Marcella Hadden, co-curator and photographer. “Until change in reporting and the seriousness is given to this matter, all Native women continue to be at risk.”

The MMIWG movement was catalyzed by Indigenous women protesting “man camps,” which are temporary housing units built by extractive industries, such as fossil fuels, typically for non-Indigenous, non-local workers in rural areas bordering on or near Indian reservations. Man camps often span the colonial borders of the United States and Canada. Nearby Indigenous communities or border towns experience increased incidences of violence, robberies, sexual assault, and human trafficking, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe states.

“The enthusiasm and love that has been shown toward the Boontak! (Stop it!): Stolen Daughters of Turtle Island exhibit has been inspiring,” said co-curator William Johnson. “Recently, I fielded a call from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe from the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. They support our efforts and look forward to the exhibit going virtual.”

The “Boontak! (Stop it!): Stolen Daughters of Turtle Island” exhibition will be on display at the Ziibiwing Center from Sept. 25 through to May 5. During the exhibition’s course, complementary virtual MMIWG events will be offered by Central Michigan University, Mid Michigan Community College and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan.

For more information about the exhibition and events, contact the Ziibiwing Center at 989-775-4750, on Facebook, or visit www.sagchip.org/ziibiwing. The center is temporarily closed to the public due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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