Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Reviving the lost art of birch bark scrolls

by Tessa Torgeson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Arts | May 17th, 2017

The Plains Art Museum Native American Art Program Director, Laura Youngbird, is pairing with Lise Erdrich to teach a class on Birch Bark Scrolls at the Plains Art Museum on May 18 and 19.

Weaving together stories and words, the Ojibwe tribe wrote stories on birch bark scrolls, known in their native language as wiigwaasbakoon. The class will be free to Native artists as part of the Plains Art Museum’s initiative “Creativity Among Native Artists,” which aims to bring visibility to Native American artists through exhibitions, professional development opportunities, and programming.

Youngbird said, “We will be encouraging participants to create or remember a story that has been passed down to them, and interpret it in a pictograph form or memory device.”

Art is a vital tool for cultural preservation and sharing, expression, and resistance against hardships and oppression. Recently art helped increase visibility around The Dakota Access Pipeline protests, amplifying the importance of the issue to activists across the world. The DAPL protests finally brought issues faced by Native Americans to the forefront.

Another important issue is cultural and linguistic preservation. The Ojibwe people used birch bark scrolls to record religious beliefs, ceremonies, and traditions.

“Lise (Erdrich) and I will be teaching the history and storytelling aspect of the scrolls. It would be inappropriate for us to share the sacred or ceremonial facet associated with the scrolls in a public workshop,” Youngbird stated.

The sacred and ceremonial aspects of the scrolls are complex and culturally sensitive. Some museums and digital preservationists have chosen to return scrolls to their homes with the Ojibwe people. While some scrolls are publicly shown, many museums and websites have chosen to not make the scrolls publicly viewable.

Research conducted by The Society of American Archivists and the National Museum of the American Indians revealed that there was controversy in releasing the scrolls publicly, to those who may misinterpret their meaning. Ojibwe people can use their rich oral traditions and teachings that allow them to properly interpret the pictures and symbols depicted in the scrolls.

An example of the reverence for and power of Ojibwe scrolls occurred regionally in The Bois Forte Reservation, located primarily in Koochiching County in Northern Minnesota. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that 275-year-old scrolls were returned to the Bois Forte Reservation in 2006 by a white Kentucky doctor. The doctor claimed his grandfather acquired the scrolls when he was superintendent of Ah-Gwah-Ching tuberculosis sanatorium near Walker, Minn.

Shockingly, tribal elders confirmed the scrolls were “long-lost records of the Bois Forte lodge of the Midewiwin, or Grand Medicine Society, a selective Ojibwe religious order that preserved its rites on birch bark and was driven underground for most of the 20th century, when Indian religions were outlawed by the U.S. government.” The scrolls are so sacred that band’s elder’s decided the scrolls could not be viewed or photographed by people who are not part of their religious order.

The Picture Writing class will be a fun way to honor this tradition in a respectful way. Youngbird says that participants will use deer bone scribes to etch into birch bark.

IF YOU GO 

Picture Writing: The Lost Art of Birch Bark Scrolls 

Thursday and Friday, May 18 and 19, 3 to 5pm 

Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Center for Creativity, 720 1st Ave N

Fargo Free for Native artists (must register); $60 museum members, $80 nonmembers 

lyoungbird@plainsart.org or Native American Arts Community on Facebook

RECENTLY IN

Arts

Tracker Pixel for Entry HighPlainsHousing2of3 Tracker Pixel for Entry HPRONLINE Tracker Pixel for Entry MSUM Oline Tracker Pixel for Entry HighPlainsHousing#1of3 Tracker Pixel for Entry HighPlainsFairHousing#3of3

Recently in:

By the time this article is published, all the major new outlets in the area will have reported on the May 30th protest in Fargo demanding change and justice after the needless killing of George Floyd, as well as its aftermath. …

by Sonja ThompsonDebra Ruh is the CEO and Founder of Ruh Global IMPACT, a consulting firm that strives to help clients amplify their impact and become disability inclusion leaders. She also serves as the Chair of the United…

Best Bets

Ladies Ag Night

by HPR Staff

Thursday, March 19, 4:30- 8 pm1609 19th Ave N, FargoCass County Soil Conservation District is hosting their annual Ladies’ Ag Night supper event. This event has a goal of bringing together multiple generations of women involved…

by Sofia Makarova and Massimo Sassi The global pandemic is an incredibly challenging time for many. Nearlyone in every three Americans’ jobs have been affected, whether a temporary layoff, a permanent job loss, or a reduction in…

The Death of Empire by A Thousand CutsSome empires last longer than others. Rome was one. The Chinese empire died the death of a thousand cuts they made famous a thousand years ago. But the Chinese heart that was sliced centuries…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

It goes without saying that Valentine’s Day is the most profitable of all the holidays and the one with the most tortured history, literally. It is confusing how an ancient Roman festival that involved sacrificing animals and…

Fargo obviously loves their classical music. Audiences have still turned out during the 2019-2020 season of the Sanford Masterworks Series performed by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra despite an unrelenting winter. That…

Well-deserved praise for writer-director Amy Seimetz’s efficient and provocative “She Dies Tomorrow” almost inevitably points to the film’s eerie timeliness as a metaphor for pandemic-inspired malaise and disequilibrium.…

This weekend, the 10th Annual Unglued Craft Fest will be held at the Plains Art Museum, featuring over 70 local and regional artists selling handmade items. Though most are Fargo-Moorhead residents, artists from Minneapolis, Sioux…

Theatre

Fargo Film Festival 2020

by HPR Contributor

by Dominic EricksonThis March, the Fargo Film Festival will celebrate its 20th year of entertaining die-hard cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike. The festival begins on March 17 and concludes March 21. The event is once again…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

by Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comFar North Spirits, located up in Hallock, MN, is the northernmost distillery in the lower 48. They may be young in the distillery world but the farm and the spirit reach far into the past.…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

“(Kafka’s) world knows no physical or moral order…We, the readers, are reliving our bad dreams…punishment is over all the characters, but the crime remains mysteriously hidden…” - William Hubben“The specter of color is…