Leech Lake Early Childhood has been making many strides to revitalize language and indigenous foods. Ryan White Photography & Design, a Leech Lake local company, captures these budding initiatives in a powerful and artistic manner to show the strength within the Leech Lake communities. Using a combined skill set White beautifully weaves together the many parts of this cultural and community revitalization movement.
For more information about Ryan White Photography & Design or the Leech Lake Early Childhood please see the following links: facebook.com/RyanWhitesPhotographyDesign
Leech Lake Early Childhood Development:
Aabinoojii Oshkii Bimadiziiwin Center (AOB)
The creative commissioned projects showcased in the video engaged five local artists:
Sharon Nordrum: Sharon is an experienced artist that started painting in 2012. Her inspiration comes from her dreams, her Ojibwe heritage, language, and stories and the natural world. Her work is filled with traditional Ojibwe symbolism. She is active in the communities of northern Minnesota and they range from art projects, youth work and radio shows. She has been a member of the Indigenous Foods Experts’ committee which keyed the foods highlight in AOB’s Farm to Early Care initiative and has been a key piece to its success in the classroom and in the kitchen. For this project, she created the traditional floral designs with needle felt work and taught of how we use our surroundings in our art and how they connect to tell a story.
Lolly Aguilar: Lolly is an experienced artist and has offered various classes with women teaching them different techniques and teachings that go along with her art as well as teaching involving the Three Sisters. She is a lover of mandaamin (corn) and reaches beyond central Minnesota to become known as “the corn lady” in the tribal communities of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. She has been gifted many beautiful corn seeds, teachings and stories from all across Turtle Island and Mexico. One of the teachings she highlighted during this project is how to make the traditional corn husk dolls and the teachings of mandaamin and the Three Sisters. She created a beautiful corn husk doll that is now displayed at Sprout.
Wesley Mays: Wesley is an experienced artist whose art gained popularity in 2011 and later evolved into authentic Native American Wearable Art. He views his art as a positive image for ourselves and has provided a positive influence and a positive example with the words and images he shares with everyone he comes into contact with. His art and his businesses help him raise American Indian people up, increase self-esteem, and increase pride in one self. Wesley created a collaborative canvased painting with some of the youth and families that are part of the Leech Lake Early Childhood program. This provided a more modern take on indigenous paintings and highlighted the importance of those teachings and the impact of community.
Ryan White: Ryan is an experienced artist with 5 years of professional photography. He currently works with the Leech Lake Tribal College (LLTC) as their Multimedia & Marketing Specialist and also does professional photography outside the LLTC and at several community events. He has captured amazing photos from different cultural events and the community of Leech Lake as a whole. He documented the various teachings through photographs and video and compiled them to create the video above. This highlights the intergenerational transfer of knowledge and skills in Indigenous culture as a whole and the methods and the meanings of their stories told through their art.
David Northbird: Dave is currently the Director of Operations of the Boys and Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area. Dave is a life long learner of Anishinaabe song and dance culture. Dave has instructed drum teachings in the Leech Lake area for 20 years in the Cass Lake-Bena School District, Boys and Girls Club, and Leech Lake Tribal College. Drum making is an important part of a singers development so learning how to construct ones owe drum provides a high level of respect for his/her drum.
This project was facilitated by Claire Chase, Leech Lake Area SNAP-Ed Coordinator.