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American Indian art exhibit based on 1862 war opens Friday

The exhibit by American Indian artists addressing the 150th anniversary of the 1862 war between the U.S. and the Dakota Indian tribe.

An exhibit of works by American Indian artists — addressing the 150th anniversary of the 1862 war between the U.S. and the Dakota Indian tribe — opens Friday in Minneapolis.

Twenty artists have created work that responds to the war, particularly the Dec. 26, 1862 hangings of 38 Dakota warriors.

The “Ded Uŋk’uŋpi—We Are Here Art Exhibit” opens Friday with a 5 p.m. reception at the All My Relations Gallery, 1414 East Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. The Minnesota Historical Society is a partner in the exhibit.

The exhibit runs through Sept. 28 at the gallery and then moves to the James J. Hill House Gallery, 240 Summit Ave., St. Paul, for a run from Oct. 13 to Jan. 13.

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The featured artists are: Joe Allen, Angela Babby, Karen Beaver, Todd Bordeaux, Julie Buffalohead, Avis Charley, Gordon Coons, Jim Denomie, Michael Elizondo Jr., Evans Flammond, Charles Her Many Horses, Dakota Hoska, Henry Payer, Charles Rencountre, James Star Comes Out, Maggie Thompson, Jodi Webster, Gwen Westerman, Dwayne Wilcox and Bobby Wilson.

Describing the exhibit, Dakota artist and scholar Gwen Westerman Wasicuna said: 

“With a stunning mix of humor and anger, hope and despair, this collection expresses the array of complicated responses to a brutal history.  While the thirty-eight executed Dakota are prominent, other essential aspects of culture and tradition are also present, including the strength of Dakota women, the role of horses and honor, and the ever-present landscape of the homeland.  Whether incorporating new interpretations of traditional forms of beadwork, winter counts, and horse masks, or employing diverse contemporary techniques in glass, found objects, and photography, the messages here are as diverse as the artists themselves. 

“The stories depicted contribute to a broader understanding of the impact of these historical events and the power of art to tell a difficult story.  Abstract, realistic, and representational, these pieces help us see the transformative capacity of trauma and healing, destruction and regeneration, and above all, representation and memory.”