Photo of the Project 562 mural on the exterior wall of the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center featuring a pink and yellow sunset with photos of local tribal members in traditional regalia overlaying the sun.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The mural is back.

Members of Matika Wilbur’s Project 562 team returned to Lawrence University in recent days to work with Native American students to restore a mural on the side of the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center that was first created as part of a mid-April convocation.

Due to harsh weather in April, the Project 562 Indigenous Land Project mural was unable to properly cure during its installation. Members of LUNA (Lawrence University Native Americans) and UWGB’s Intertribal Student Organization continued to work closely with the Project 562 artistic team to repair the mural once weather conditions improved.

That work has now paid off. The large mural, featuring the faces of three generations of Native Americans, is back in place. It includes the words Indigenize Education.

The mural was not created to be a permanent installation. The wheat paste project is expected to last two to five years, depending in part on weather conditions.

Wilbur, creator and director of Project 562, has used photography and art installations to tell the story of Native American communities.

“I’m so proud of you,” Wilbur said at the time of the April convocation, addressing the more than a dozen Native American students from Lawrence and UWGB who helped create the mural. “And I’m proud of Lawrence for taking this huge step. This is a huge step to have indigenous representation on a college campus.”

Wilbur, a visual storyteller from the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes of coastal Washington, has been traveling the country — and beyond — as part of Project 562, visiting close to 900 tribal communities in all. The 562 is a reference to the number of federally recognized tribes in the United States at the time the project launched in 2012.

After her travels are done, Project 562 is expected to live on in books, exhibitions, lecture series, web sites, new curriculum and podcasts, Wilbur said.

“Matika has a magical way of giving our Native students and their allies permission to acknowledge and be proud of their own cultural traditions, families and indigenous ways, even in spaces that may have not been historically designed for us,” Brigetta Miller, an associate professor of music in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music and a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee (Mohican) Nation, said at the convocation.

“This work is more than making art for the sake of social justice,” she said. “It’s a way to truthfully show who we are. It’s a way for us to tell our own story.”

Wilbur’s April convocation address speaks to the heart of Project 562

Project 562’s creator looks to reshape narrative on Native communities

For more on LUNA student organization, click here.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu