New Changing Exhibit March 21-September 26, 2015

23 Mar

native sky watchers

Native Skywatchers – Reach for the Art in the Sky
Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways, Mt. Pleasant, MI
March 21, 2015 through September 26, 2015

In Ojibwe culture we look towards the Evening Star and honor Ikwe’ Anung – the Woman’s Star. In D(L)akota culture in addition to seeing a dragon, Draco, in the northern circumpolar skies, we know Wakiyan – the Thunderbird, located at the center of the precession circle. Woven into the Native constellation names like, Ikwe’ Anung – Woman’s Star and Wakiyan –Thunderbird, are important and insightful understandings of astronomical patterns and phenomenon that are too valuable to be forgotten. This living relationship with the cosmos is a core part of the cultural history and present day heritage of Native people. It is alive.

Native Skywatchers is an indigenous led initiative to revitalize and rebuild the star knowledge of the Ojibwe and D(L)akota peoples. In 2012 we created two Native star maps: Ojibwe Giizhig Anung Masinaaigan – Ojibwe Sky Star Map and Makoçe Wiçaå®pi Wowapi – D(L)akota Star Map. Right now is a critical time; much has been lost. At the same time, there is a tremendous demand and excitement for this knowledge.

Growing momentum is due in part to the MN State K-12 Science Standards (2009) that requires educators to teach how: “Men and women throughout the history of all cultures, including Minnesota American Indian tribes and communities, have been involved in engineering design and scientific inquiry.” Specifically Benchmark states, “For example: Ojibwe and Dakota knowledge and use of patterns in the stars to predict and plan”.

This important work has many branches: interdisciplinary connections in science and culture, formal and informal science education, artwork and art programming, history and heritage, outreach and community wellness.

This show, Native Skywatchers – Reach for the Art in the Sky, presents four Native artists: Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeff Tibbetts and Carl Gawboy, and their connection to sky, earth, stars, and cosmos.

It is our hope that each person enjoying this show will have an increased understanding and appreciation of the relevance and depth of native star knowledge, and for some, a rekindling or deepening of a sense of awe and personal relationship to the cosmos.

All cultures, throughout human history, have had a connection to the stars. This artwork will help with rebuilding and remembering our Native Ojibwe and D(L)akota connection to the stars. Ultimately, we hope this dialog will serve as a stepping-stone to honor and remember all indigenous ways of knowing.

Miigwech. Pidamaya.
Native Skywatchers

New Changing Exhibit Opens November 4, 2014

28 Oct

shawl exhibit flyer

The Healing Through Culture and Art Shawl Collection Opens November 4, 2014 and runs through February 28, 2015. The collection was created by Suzanne L. Cross, ACSW, LMSW, PhD, LLC (Bneshiinh kwe-Birdwoman) Associate Professor Emeritus – School of Social Work – MSU. This collection was created with a cultural approach to increase awareness and emphasize cardiac health and care. The artist is a member and elder of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. She is also an open heart surgery survivor. The 13 shawls in this exhibit were created in recognition of the 13 moons from the Anishinabe Creation Story. Each shawl has its own story designed to encourage American Indian women to recognize the value of changing lifeways to prolong and save lives.

New Changing Exhibit: Mt. Pleasant Indian Boarding School

13 Mar

          changing exhibit 8.5 x 11 flyer            Come experience the history that is right in your backyard.  The Ziibiwing Center’s new changing exhibit will tell the story of the Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School. The grand opening of the exhibit will be held this Saturday, March 15th at 12 p.m.

            In 1891, the United States Congress established the Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School. The boarding school consisted of 37 buildings on 320 acres of land, with an average enrollment of 300 American Indian students per year in grades K-8. The school operated from 1893 to 1934.

            The languages and spiritual practices of the American Indian culture were broadly misunderstood. American Indians were viewed as savages, rather than self-sufficient, knowledgeable, creative and independent people. Policymakers were uncomfortable with the American Indian culture and rendered them inferior. On May 17, 1882, The United States Congress passed a bill known as the Indian Appropriation Act. This bill allocated money to go toward building the first American Indian boarding school.

             The boarding schools were operated by churches and in some cases by government administrators. The goal was to help assimilate American Indian children by teaching them to read, write and speak the English language. It was also a priority to convert the American Indian children to European religious beliefs.

            Come to the Ziibiwing Center and learn more about the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Boarding School. The changing exhibit will run until September 30, 2014.



The Art of the Great Lakes Indians –Interview with Curator, William Johnson by Lauren Fowlkes

3 Feb

Q. What is the purpose of the The Art of the Great Lakes Indians exhibit?

     On January 21, 2009 the Ziibiwing Center premiered an exhibition entitled Artistic Expressions of the Great Lakes Indians. The exhibit drew primarily from the private collections of Laura Herrington of Royal Oak, Michigan; Tom Noakes of Canfield, Ohio; Richard Pohrt Jr. of Ann Arbor, Michigan and Mike Slasinski of Saginaw, Michigan. The cultural material that was presented dated just after the period of European contact into the early 20th century. The Art of the Great Lakes Indians is basically a continuance of that exhibit drawing from the Ziibiwing Center’s permanent collection and presenting cultural material from the late 19th century to the present.

Q. Where did you get the items for the exhibit?

   The Ziibiwing Center acquires and maintains collections to preserve and protect significant examples of Anishinabe cultural materials for present and future generations. These collections are used to support our educational programs. The Tribal community’s & general public’s access to the permanent collection is primarily through exhibition. The Ziibiwing Center can acquire objects through bequests, exchanges, field collection, gifts, purchases and transfers. Many of our permanent collection objects are gifts from the Tribal community.  

Q.  What do you hope people get out of the exhibit?

   The Ziibiwing Center and Cultural Resource Management Department work carefully to maintain the collections. The objects are respected not only in the physical sense but in the spiritual sense as well. The exhibition of objects is serious business. Accidents can occur if precautions are not taken and result in disfiguring or destroying an irreplaceable object. I hope people can gain a better understanding of the responsibility of placing an object on display and to appreciate the fact that authentic examples of Anishinabe art will be shown. You don’t have to go to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC to enjoy beautiful works of art.

Q. What is the most exciting thing about being able to moderate an exhibit like this?

    I’m often excited about the interaction with the visitors. The conversations and curiosity over the objects is always special. I like to be able to provide a safe environment for questions and to discuss things in an enthusiastic manner. The public’s knowledge runs the gamut. There are those that have little understanding and those that I would consider independent scholars with encyclopedic knowledge. The exhibition of cultural material is exciting because we’re providing educational opportunities for the public and reinforcing our position as the Midwest’s Premier American Indian Museum.   

Q. Is there a special story behind one of the artifacts?

    We will be displaying quillwork of the Bailey family. One of the most impressive things about these objects is the support we get from the Bailey family. Time and time again they will attend our exhibits and marvel at the wonder of their family’s work. It is not hard to get them excited about what they are seeing. It is truly an honor to host them & preserve their family’s history.

Q.  Can you expand on the idea that the exhibit will be inter-tribal and reflective of an evolving art style?

     There’s really nothing new under the sun. The Anishinabe have borrowed design concepts, color coordination and techniques from one another throughout time. I’m often amazed at those who can identify individual artists by merely looking at their work. It’s sometimes hard enough to culturally affiliate an object just by looking at it. Tribes do have their own individual style but it’s often hard to pinpoint. I’m most intrigued by new design concepts and the younger generation of bead workers. Traditional familial designs, while still being incorporated into works of art, are also being complemented with more individual designs that are appealing and important to the designer.

Long live your family history

14 Jan

Take a trip down memory lane by reviewing your family’s artifacts and consider donating them to the Ziibiwing Center for others to admire and learn about. The center relies on the donations of SCIT members and the surrounding community. The Cultural Resource Management Department of the ZC provides maximum care of the collections for the next Seven Generations. A safe and secure environment is essential to the care of the collections. In conjunction with the processes of accessing new material, cataloging the history of an object, doing inventory and lending/borrowing, the ZC assumes responsibility for the physical care and storage of objects. Temperature, humidity, and pests are monitored daily to ensure the greatest longevity of the objects held within our care.


Chief’s Jacket belonging to James V. Waynee Jr.

This Chief’s Jacket belonged to James V. Waynee Jr., and was made by Sam Wolf of Texas. James was a member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and was born in Bay City, Michigan on April 5, 1923. Becky Bratten and Naomi Waynee gifted the jacket to the Ziibiwing Center on September 1, 2006. Through his family’s contribution, a piece of James’ legacy now lives on in the Ziibiwing Center respectfully.

Below is a list of gifts that have been generously donated in the past:

  • Baskets
  • Pottery
  • Sacred and ceremonial objects
  • Dolls
  • Archival and multi-media materials
  • Tools and weapons
  • Personal artifacts
  • Beadwork
  • Transportation equipment and textiles

 The ZC staff also meets quarterly with the Collections Committee. This committee meets to provide input for collections care and management. SCIT members are encouraged to participate. If interested please contact the Ziibiwing Center’s Research Center at 989-775-4748. The Ziibiwing Center would like to acknowledge past and present members of the Collections Committee with a “Chi Miigwech” (Thank You) for their hard work and dedication.

New Year, New Events!

9 Jan

With 2013 just beginning, we have been working hard to make sure this is our best year ever. Make sure to check our blog regularly as we continue to update you with new events, interesting information, as well as recipes, games and art projects to try with your family.


        Are you interested in learning how you can make some extra money? Perhaps you want to start a new and interesting career? For anyone interested in learning how to become a wholesale vendor, Ziibiwing Commercial Services is hosting a two hour workshop for all Native American people interested in learning about this unique opportunity. The workshop is FREE and will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 22 in the Ziibiwing Center at 5:30p.m.

 If you’re interested in joining, call: 989-775-4741

 There are only 24 seats available so call TODAY to register and ensure you have a seat.



        Sign-ups for Performance Circle Class as well as the first lesson take place on Jan. 29  in the Ziibiwing Center from 4-5:30p.m.

         The mission of the Anishinabe Performance Circle is aimed at promoting and enhancing positive self images of all children through the use of traditional Anishinabe arts (storytelling, dance, music, and language) and preparing our youth as leaders in a multicultural society

If you’re interesting in your child taking part, call: 989-775-4750 

         Or for more information, visit:

Tentatively, classes will be held on Tuesday evenings on the following dates:

  •         Feb. 5, 12, 19 & 26.
  •         Mar. 5, 12, 19 & 26.
  •         April 9,16, 23 & 30.

A Performance Circle Graduation is planned for May 7th


        Come celebrate special relationships & cherished memories at Daddy-Daughter Date Night. A special evening of music, dancing, food, games and prizes will be held at the Ziibiwing Cultural Center on Wednesday Feb. 13th from 6p.m. to 8p.m.  Young ladies of all ages and their Dads or other favorite escort are invited. The event includes a DJ and professional photos.

Cost is $15 for early registration and $25 at the door. Cost is $5 for each additional guest.

For more information, call Consuelo J. Gonzalez at: 989 775-4386 or e-mail her at

Eagle Feather Cleansing, Honoring, and Feast

17 Oct



                                                     CLEANSING – OCT 17 – 1-6 pm

Participate with members from the Anishinabe Ogitchedaw Veteran & Warrior Society, Eagle Clan, and Ziibiwing staff in cleaning and honoring the eagle feathers in the Ziibiwing Collection. You may also bring your own personal eagle feathers (or bird feathers) to clean and honor. Some restrictions may apply.


                                                    HONORING – OCT 18 & 19 – 1-6 pm

Honor and visit the eagle feathers in the Ziibiwing Collections. A bowl will be available to leave your semaa (tobacco) offering which will be placed in a sacred fire.


                                                            FEAST – OCT 19 – 6-8pm

Join with members from the Anishinabe Ogitchedaw Veterans & Warriors Society, Eagle Clan, and Ziibiwing staff in feasting with the eagle feathers in the Ziibiwing Collections. You may also bring your own personal eagle feathers (or bird feathers) to the feast. A sacred fire will be lit to place your semaa (tobacco) offerings.

Please bring a dish to pass – no poultry or other bird dishes.

(Some restrictions may apply.)

FREE & OPEN to the public