Tag: Native Americans

Sculpture adds visibility to journey of Indigenous people; brings new conversations, reflection

Architect Chris Cornelius speaks during the Kaeyes Mamaceqtawuk Plaza and Otāēciah (crane) art sculpture dedication Monday as part of Lawrence University’s sixth annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Chris Cornelius looks at the contemporary art sculpture that has become the centerpiece of the plaza outside Lawrence University’s Mudd Library, its shape pointing purposely northwest toward what is now the home of the Menominee Nation, and wonders what conversations it might spark.

“I would hope the Indigenous community here on campus would see it as a place to gather, to have as a physical symbol that they are being acknowledged, and to open those conversations up about how land was acquired and who was Indigenous to it and how do we begin to reconcile that with one another,” said Cornelius, the architect who created Otāēciah, the public sculpture now on permanent display on the renamed Kaeyes Mamaceqtawuk Plaza.

A member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and newly named chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of New Mexico, Cornelius joined with current LUNA (Lawrence University Native Americans) students, members of local tribal communities, families from the Appleton Area School District, and the Lawrence campus on Monday evening for a dedication of the sculpture and the renamed plaza.

It was the culmination of more than two years of work.

Installed in late summer, the sculpture is intended to be a permanent piece that further acknowledges and honors the Menominee and Ho-Chunk people, who are Indigenous to the land where Lawrence is situated. The dedication comes on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a day that a growing number of cities, states, K-12 school districts, and universities have declared a holiday.

The sculpture was funded by a gift from Robert ’64 and Patricia Anker.

The Boldt Co. provided welding and structural work during the installation, working in partnership with Cornelius as the Otāēciah sculpture took shape. It follows the 2019 installation of the temporary Project 562 mural on the outside wall of the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center, which also aimed to amplify the perspectives of Native American voices at Lawrence.

President Laurie A. Carter told visitors to Monday’s dedication that the sculpture is a visual reminder that Lawrence is and will be a welcoming place for all.

“Today is more than a dedication,” Carter said. “Today is also Indigenous Peoples’ Day, on which we both honor our local Indigenous communities, including the Menominee and Ho-Chunk Nations and the surrounding Oneida and Mohican people, and envision a future that prioritizes new ways of making Indigeneity visible on our campus. There is a reason why we stand here between Seeley G. Mudd Library and the Wriston Art Galleries. This plaza is located at one of the busiest crossroads of our campus and is clearly visible from College Avenue, one of Appleton’s most important and traversed thoroughfares. You can’t drive by or walk across the center of campus without passing this plaza or seeing this sculpture. Today we make visible Lawrence’s Native American students, faculty, and staff, whose perspectives have historically not been visible enough here on our campus.”

Former Lawrence President Mark Burstein was an early advocate for the Otāēciah sculpture project. He reached out to the Ankers, avid supporters of Native artists, and found willing partners in making the project happen. The Ankers traveled from Carmel, Indiana, to attend Monday’s dedication.

“As we accumulated art over the decades, we became focused on Native art and artists,” Robert Anker said. “Pat chaired the Indian Market and Festival of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (in Indianapolis) for many years and continues to serve as a member of the museum’s board of directors. Through the years we have built deep and continuing friendships with many Native artists. Mark became aware of these facts simply because he is Mark, thus making both the ask and the answer easy.”

“Our voices aren’t often centered in that way”

Lawrence student Taneya Garcia, president of LUNA, tells the crowd gathered for the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration that the Otāēciah sculpture and all it represents “warms my heart.” (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Lawrence connected with Cornelius at the suggestion of Beth Zinsli ’02, assistant professor of art history and curator of the Wriston Art Center Galleries. She had seen Cornelius’ work at a 2018 art show at Marquette University’s Haggerty Museum of Art.

“His piece in that show just bowled me over,” she said. “I started looking into his work a bit more and learned that he is an acclaimed architect and that he grew up closer to campus, in Oneida. …  I was really committed to working with him in some way.”

Much of Cornelius’ work has focused on the architectural translation of culture; in particular, American Indian culture. He is the founding principal of studio:indigenous, a design and consulting firm serving American Indian clients. He holds a master of architecture degree from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in architectural studies from UW-Milwaukee. 

Once Cornelius was on board, he set out to bring the voices of Native students at Lawrence into the planning for the sculpture. He wanted to hear about their experiences and sought their insights as he began to map out what the piece would look like, what symbols it would include, and what messages it might send.

“It was very important to him that he heard their voices,” said Brigetta Miller ’89, an associate professor of music in the Lawrence Conservatory who has served as the faculty advisor to LUNA, a student organization, since its inception in 2008. “I love that. Our voices aren’t often centered in that way.”

Miller is a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee (Mohican) Nation and is a descendant of the Menominee Nation in Wisconsin.

Taneya Garcia, a senior majoring in both anthropology and ethnic studies, is president of LUNA. A member of the Santa Ana and Acoma Pueblo of New Mexico, she said she has been thrilled to see the amplification of Native voices at Lawrence since she arrived on campus three years ago, starting with the initial adoption of a land acknowledgement in 2018 and followed by the Indiginize Education land project mural and convocation with Project 562 in 2019.

Now the Otāēciah sculpture brings more permanence to that commitment, Garcia said. Native students know their voices were part of its creation, and Native students today and in the future can see themselves represented in the art.

“Once they see themselves, they kind of have that reinforcement that we’re here, and we’re always going to be here,” Garcia said.

“It opens up and you can look at the sky”

Otāēciah is a contemporary art sculpture now on permanent display on the renamed Kaeyes Mamaceqtawuk Plaza on the Lawrence University campus. (Photo by Liz Boutelle)

Cornelius said the message from the students meshed with his own vision for the project—to pay respect to the Menominee people and their traditions.

The sculpture, made of weathering steel that is intentional in its rust, is not intended to look like anything specific, Cornelius said. But its name, Otāēciah, means “crane” in Menominee. Finding inspiration in animals and nature is reflective of the culture, he said. And the Indigenous patterns that are part of the sculpture speak to the arts and crafts of the Menominee people.

“You will see that the skin of this piece is intended to reflect some of that, some of the original reflections of nature,” Cornelius said.

The rust, Cornelius said, provides a protective coding and will change in tone over time.

Visitors to the sculpture are encouraged to walk inside, admire the design, and look through its openings.

“It opens up and you can look at the sky,” Cornelius said. “You can get in the middle of it, get inside it. It’s not just a sculpture. It’s intended to be a space. And to have that experiential quality to it.”

A Boldt Co. crew spent several weeks in August bringing Cornelius’ vision to life, assembling and welding the intricate pieces.

“A piece like this takes a significant amount of work,” Cornelius said during the installation. “For me as the designer, I have one person on staff. But how it’s being constructed is really being supported by Boldt. They’ve been excellent partners in this endeavor. They are constructing it; we’ve used their structural engineers. They’ve made the process go super smooth.”

The finished product does what public art is supposed to do, Zinsli said. It speaks to place and history, and it invites reflection.

“In his practice overall, Chris has created this distinctive visual language that complicates the boundaries between the natural world and the built environment in ways I find really exciting,” Zinsli said. “In Otāēciah, Chris deftly integrated Menominee symbols to create this powerful, visually arresting work of public art. I particularly love the way the sculpture invites somewhat playful interactions—you can walk inside it—while also persistently reminding us on whose ancestral lands our campus has been built, through its iconography and purposeful orientation toward the present land of the Menominee Nation. This is precisely what good public art can do—become an integral and beautiful part of the campus landscape while also embodying the values our community holds in common.”

“I think it’s important to start that conversation”

Dennis Kenote, a Menominee elder, applauded Lawrence for its celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and its commitment to its land acknowledgement. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Monday’s dedication was one more chapter in what hopefully will be an ongoing conversation about indigeneity, Cornelius said. He applauded Lawrence—its history dates back 174 years, predating Wisconsin becoming a state—for its willingness to engage in such discussions and reflection.

“It’s important to understand the relationship that Indigenous people had originally to the land, for us to be able to have conversations about how we ended up where we are,” Cornelius said. “How did we end up where Lawrence University is here on what was Menominee land? I think it’s important to start that conversation, and for me it’s doing that through this piece. Through art and sculpture, we can begin to have those kinds of conversations about the university and the founding of the university. Lawrence was here before Wisconsin even became a state. But we should have conversations about who was here before it was even known as Wisconsin, before European contact. That’s the thing the piece itself is intended to do, to help spark those conversations.”

For Miller, these conversations are essential. She’s hopeful the sculpture and the Kaeyes Mamaceqtawuk Plaza, located in a busy cross-section of campus that draws much foot traffic, will spur the sort of “deep interdisciplinary reflection that’s necessary in order to understand the interconnectedness of Indigenous ways of knowing.”

Dennis Kenote, a Menominee Nation elder, recorded pronunciations of Kaeyes Mamaceqtawuk and Otāēciah. He shared his knowledge of Menominee history and customs at Monday’s dedication.

Miller said she hopes Lawrentians will actively practice the proper pronunciation and begin referring to both the sculpture and the plaza by their Menominee names.

“Our Native relatives have always placed high value on learning through the oral tradition,” Miller said. “The challenge of correctly pronouncing the word is good for our campus—it shatters stereotypes and shows the complexity and higher-level thinking required in our Indigenous languages.”

Monday’s celebration, which drew several hundred people, featured a pow wow demonstration by Str8 Across, an Oneida drum and dance group. Norbert Hill, an Oneida elder, told those gathered that this celebration needs to last beyond this one day.

“This monument reminds people that Indigenous Peoples’ Day is every day,” he said.

Miller called the permanence of the installation significant, saying it marks an important step in the continuation of Lawrence’s land acknowledgement.

“This is not something that’s just going to go away,” Miller said. “As Native people, we want to make it clear that we’re alive. We are here. We are present.”

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

Signage on Kaeyes Mamaceqtawuk Plaza

Otāēciah (Crane), Chris T. Cornelius (Oneida) 

The form of Otāēciah references a crane, one of the five traditional Menominee clan symbols. The perforated and patinaed steel panels, modeled after woodland textile patterns, overlap like a bird’s feathers. Menominee beadwork designs, created with elements of geometric patterns, are prominently featured. The decorative shapes that crown the piece signify ceremonial regalia. The sculpture points directionally toward the present land of the Menominee Nation. The three inside posts supporting the sculpture represent LUNA’s motto: “We stand together – stronger together.”

Audio guide: Menominee elder Dennis Kenote provides pronunciation for Otāēciah and Kaeyes Mamaceqtawuk and history on the language.

Pronunciation Guide

Menominee orthography: Kāēyas mamāceqtawak 
International Phonetic Alphabet: /kajæs məmɑːʔt͡ʃɪtɑwək / 
Pronunciation guide: Ka-YES muh-MAA-chi-TA-wuk 
Translation: Ancient people that move 

Menominee Orthography: Otāēciah 
International Phonetic Alphabet: ɔtɑːʔt͡ʃijɑʰ 
Pronunciation guide: o-TAA-chee-ah 
Translation: Crane 

College Horizons Scholars Program offers Native students a bridge to college success

Scholars Program students take part in a classroom discussion in Briggs Hall.
College-bound students in the Scholars Program, part of College Horizons, take part in a classroom session Thursday in Briggs Hall at Lawrence University. The three-week program ends this week.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Twenty-one new high school graduates representing six Native American groups have been visiting Lawrence University this month as part of the College Horizons Scholars Program, a three-week summer academy that encourages the students’ healthy transition into college.

The Scholars Program is one of three administered by College Horizons, a New Mexico-based college-access nonprofit that advocates for the success of Native American students in higher education by teaching college readiness. Its staple program is College Horizons, a summer program of pre-college workshops for sophomores and juniors.

The Scholars Program, meanwhile, is for those College Horizons graduates who are preparing for college this fall. It’s been hosted by Lawrence each of the past three summers.

In addition to the students from the Scholars Program, Lawrence also hosted Graduate Horizons, a four-day program offering graduate school admissions workshops for Native college students.

Lawrence is one of about 50 colleges that partner with College Horizons. The partnership, established shortly after the organization’s 1998 founding, was a step toward increased campus diversity and in support of academic excellence in higher learning institutions.

In 2015, the Mellon Foundation awarded Lawrence a three-year grant of $650,000 to support the partnership with College Horizons. The foundation promotes the arts, humanities and culture in higher education.

Lawrence has hosted the Scholars Program every summer since the program’s 2017 debut. While most of the participating students won’t be attending Lawrence, having the program on campus helps strengthen the partnership with College Horizons.

“It was an easy fit because of our history and the attractions to Lawrence,” says Mikaela Crank, director of the Scholars Program. “Small liberal arts campus, easy to navigate … it basically has the sense of community that we do here.”

The link between Lawrence and the Scholars Program is more in-depth than just the partnership; the three-week itinerary of the Scholars Program is modeled after Lawrence’s Freshman Studies. For five days a week, students attend writing seminars and lectures led by Lawrence faculty members Brigetta Miller, Julie Haurykiewicz and Kate Zoromski. The Scholars Program has “indigenized” the model by adding a cultural transitions course, taught by Crank, which gives students the “cultural capital tools” to navigate a campus and utilize its resources.

College Horizons’ emphasized attention to the students’ well-being on campus is a key to the program’s success. The Scholars Program sets itself apart from other summer bridge programs because, Crank says, they take a holistic approach to the students’ adjustment to the institution, in order to empower their indigenous identities in an academic setting.

“We don’t want to graduate broken students,” she says. “We want to graduate students who are whole and healthy and who are not broken down by the university. So, we are really taking well-being into account.”

For the Scholars Program, Crank brings in speakers to address mental health stigmas and physical wellness, organizes meditation workshops at the Center for Spiritual and Religious Life, and holds financial aid workshops with the Admissions office, all with the goal of empowering students to be successful and resilient when they head to their respective colleges in the fall.

The results are moving. Hawaii native Sienna De Sa, who is on campus with the Scholars Program, said she remembers when Carmen Lopez, executive director of College Horizons, spoke at her high school. The program’s values struck a chord with her, and she felt she needed help applying for colleges. Her experience in the high school program motivated her to apply for the Scholars Program as a senior. She has since committed to the University of Hawaii Hilo and has found more than just academic prosperity.

“I’ve learned that I am strong and resilient,” says De Sa. “That I have the power to be indigenous, educated, and I do not have to be afraid to do so. College Horizons has also given me this amazing support system that I know I can rely on in the future.”

De Sa is far from the only student to blaze her trail with help from College Horizons. The organization’s data shows that 99 percent of College Horizons students have been accepted into college and 85 percent have graduated college in four or five years.

The Scholars Program students are set to leave campus this weekend after their three-week stay, but the College Horizons partnership with Lawrence will continue. Lawrence’s grant has just been approved for another three years.

In its 21st year, College Horizons continues to aim high — more innovative programming, brilliant scholars and host universities building bridges to the future.

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

President’s annual matriculation convocation opens Lawrence’s five-part 2018-19 series

Lawrence University President Mark Burstein officially opens the university’s 170th academic year, along with its 2018-19 convocation series, Thursday, Sept. 13 with his annual matriculation address.

All convocations begin at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel and are free and open to the public.

President Mark Burstein
President Mark Burstein

Now in his sixth year as Lawrence’s 16th president, Burstein has focused on creating learning communities in which all members can reach their full potential.

Prior to Lawrence, Burstein served nine years as executive vice president at Princeton University and 10 years at Columbia University as a vice president working in human resources, student services and facilities management.

Joining Burstein on this year’s series will be:

Katherine Cramer
Katherine Cramer

Oct. 23 — Katherine Cramer, professor of political science, UW-Madison
Known for her innovative approach to the study of public opinion, Cramer presents “Listening Well in a World that Turns Away.”

Her scholarship focuses on the way Americans make sense of politics and their place in it. She is the author of “The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker,” which examines rural resentment toward cities and its implications for contemporary politics. The book earned Cramer the 2017 American Political Science Association’s Qualitative and Multi-Method Research Section Giovanni Sartori Award for the best book developing or using qualitative methods.

She also has written the books “Talking about Race: Community Dialogues and the Politics of Difference” and “Talking about Politics: Informal Groups and Social Identity in American Life.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science at UW-Madison, she earned her Ph.D. in political science at the University of Michigan.

Phil Plait
Phil Plait

Jan. 17, 2019 — Phil Plait, astronomer
A popular science writer based in Boulder, Colo., Plait is the mind behind the blog “Bad Astronomy,” on which he tries to debunk scientific myths and misconceptions. In 2009, Time magazine included it on its list of the 25 best science blogs. He will deliver the address “Strange New Worlds: Is Earth Special?”

While he’s never been a NASA employee, he was part of the Hubble Space Telescope team at NASA ‘s Goddard Space Flight Center and has been involved with NASA-sponsored public outreach programs for several satellites that study high-energy forms of light emitted by black holes, exploding stars and super-dense neutrons stars.

Pliat, who earned a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Virginia, is the author of “Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing ‘Hoax’” and “Death from the Skies!,” in which he provides real science behind all the ways astronomical events could wipe out life on Earth.

Matika Wilbur
Matika Wilbur

April 11, 2019 — Matika Wilbur, director/photographer Project 562
Wilbur, a member of the Swinomish and Tulalip peoples of coastal Washington, has been on a five-year mission to change the way we see Native America. As a visual storyteller, she has traveled the country with her camera, creating portrait art of the lives and experiences of people from the nation’s indigenous communities. She will present the address, “Changing the Way We See Native America.”

A one-time fashion photographer who earned a bachelor’s degree from the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography, Wilbur launched Project 562 in 2012 with a goal of photographing and collecting stories of Native Americans from each federally-recognized Indian tribe in the United States. To date she has visited more than 300 sovereign nations in 40 states documenting the diversity, vibrancy and realness of Indian country.

She has taught visual arts at Tulalip Heritage High School in Washington state, providing training and inspiration for the indigenous youth of her own community.

Her photography has been exhibited in national and international venues, including the Seattle Art Museum, the Royal British Columbia Museum of Fine Arts and France’s Nantes Museum of Fine Arts.

David Burrows
David Burrows

May 22, 2018David Burrows, professor of psychology and director of inclusive pedagogy
Burrows, whose address is titled, “Education for Effective Action,” is the 10th recipient of Lawrence’s Faculty Convocation Award, which represents the judgment of faculty peers that the person’s professional work is of high quality and deserves the honor of selection.

His career in higher education spans more than four-and-a half decades, including the past 13 years at Lawrence after joining the administration in 2005 as provost and dean of the faculty. In 2017, he returned to the classroom as a full-time member of the psychology department, where he teaches “Principles of Psychology,” “Cognitive Psychology” and Freshman Studies.

Burrows, who earned a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, taught and served as psychology department chair at the State University of New York at Brockport and spent 17 years at Skidmore College, where he was department chair and associate dean of the faculty. Immediately prior to Lawrence, Burrows served as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college at Beloit College from 1997-2005.

His current scholarship focuses on how students learn in college settings. He has worked with students to help them develop good self-evaluative skills as an enhancement for learning and is interested in the concept of engagement as a critical factor in learning and cognitive development.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.