A wide open space on a city-owned building at 320 Bluff Street will soon be filled with a vibrant mural dedicated to Dakota heritage.
Goodhue County Health and Human Services helped bring multiple groups from Prairie Island and Red Wing together to discuss the need for a cultural and artistic representation of the Prairie Island Indian Community within Red Wing.
Residents from Prairie Island Indian Community, Prairie Island Indian Community Family Services, the city of Red Wing, Goodhue County Health and Human Services, the Goodhue County Child and Family Collaborative and Red Wing Arts have come together to plan a mural honoring Dakota heritage.
“This is more than just a mural. The mural will be a culmination of a year's worth of effort in hearing the stories and identifying the historical trauma and working with each community,'' Emily Guida Foos, executive director for Red Wing Arts said.
The lack of representation in the Red Wing community is something that these groups are working on fixing. By supporting the project as an organization, Red Wing Arts is helping to assist Prairie Island in creating a mural that they want to see in the community.
“Really the goal for us as a supporting organization, we are approaching this by asking what does the Prairie Island community want from this and how can we support and be a tool to create something that is needed and wanted,” Foos said.
This project will help build trust between the communities and continue a growing relationship between Red Wing and Prairie Island.
“When we did the bridging of two communities with He Mni Can in 2018, that was a starting point, and this project is a continuation of growing the relationship,” Nicky Buck from Prairie Island Indian Community said.
“This mural is centered around who we are as the Dakota people, and we are going into the shared history that both communities have,” she continued.
The mural is in the early stages of development. There is still planning and coordinating being done. The organizations are seeking funding through grants and donations.
“Goodhue County Health and Human services initially got us all together, and they wanted to be a tool for healing. They wanted to do something that can help heal and help build trust between the Prairie Island Indian Community and Goodhue County and the city of Red Wing,” Foos said.
The idea for this mural came from a discussion between several organizations and Prairie Island community members. A need for more representation was identified in meetings that started in July 2020.
“Initially it came together as a discussion about how we can come up with an artistic representation of Prairie Island,” Foos said.
“Acknowledging that through art there is healing. We began to discuss this issue, and we identified that there isn’t much representation of the Prairie Island community in Red Wing,” she continued.
The first steps are to bring in a group called Thrive Unltd to gain perspective on what the mural should encapsulate.
“Coordinating Prairie Island leaders selected Thrive Unltd as a partnering group that will help lead the healing art and mural art. This is truly led by Prairie Island and supported by the rest of us,” Foos said.
Thrive Unltd will work with several groups within both the Red Wing community and Prairie Island community to identify common themes and work through historical trauma.
There will be several opportunities for the community to participate in the process through community engagement sessions. These engagement sessions will allow the Thrive Unltd group to gain some insight into what the mural can represent.
This process will take a year before the mural is installed in the chosen location.
“Thrive Unltd will listen to stories from multiple groups of people. Stories of both trauma and resolve and then they will take all of that and create a healing design for the mural to depict the process of healing and the building of relationships for both communities over the full year,” Foos said.
There will be sessions for Prairie Island elders and Red Wing elders, a session for Red Wing youth and Prairie Island youth and then finally sessions for Prairie Island adults and Red Wing adults.
“In the first sessions with Prairie Island elders in October, Jeremy Fields and Collins Provost from Thrive Unltd will talk with Prairie Island elders about historical trauma,” Buck said.
“We will have meaningful conversations over a three-day period. At the end of the three days they will reflect on the conversations, and they will be given tools and resources to navigate through historical trauma,” she continued.
After having separate sessions for each of the groups, the groups will join to finalize some of the themes discovered through these engagement sessions.
The goal for this project is to highlight the commonalities between the communities while also showing the heritage of the Dakota people.
“This isn’t just about Prairie Island or Red Wing; it is focused on our communities and our individual journeys and what our roles are in the community, because that is essentially what we need to do,” Buck said
“The goal of this project is to help people find who they are and what they can bring to the community from their ancestors and their cultures. What can everyone teach and share with one another?” she continued.
There is an unhealthy and damaging history between the Prairie Island Indian Community and the Red Wing community and this mural is a step in the right direction for unity and building a space of understanding, according to organizers.
“This is about finding commonalities and similarities between both communities and recognizing things that are missing so that we can move forward in healing. ” Buck said.
“We need to start finding our community members that have gifts to give back. This is what we need to make our people feel like they belong and that they are needed in the community,” she continued.
In the coming months more information will be relayed to the community for input opportunities and updates. The Fall Festival will be the first opportunity where people can learn more about the project and sign up for engagement sessions with Thrive Unltd.
Organizers for the mural are hoping to spark conversations for healing and continue mending the relationships between Prairie Island and Red Wing. Conversations will allow for open communication relating to historical trauma.
After the yearlong process, the groups involved in the organizing of this project plan to unveil the mural next September.