(Native Kids Ride Bikes)
LookOut! Gallery, Michigan State University University
Anishnaabensag Biimskowebshkigewag (Native Kids Ride Bikes) brings together Indigenous youth in middle and high school, non-Native university students, and Indigenous artists to construct a series of seven lowrider bicycles based on the sacred Anishnaabeg teachings known as Niizhwaaswi G’mishomisinaanig or Our Seven Grandfathers. These seven core values, seen in the pennants exhibited in the gallery, include concepts such as Nbwaakaawin (Wisdom), Zaagi’idiwin (Love), Minaadendamowin (Respect), Aakwa’ode’ewin (Bravery), Debwewin (Truth), Dibaadendiziwin (Humility), and Gwekwaadiziwin (Honesty).
Working collaboratively, the lowrider bicycles became the impetus to explore issues of migration, mobility, labor, economics, individual and collective identity, as well as community history. Of specific importance was our desire to merge Native youth culture with traditional stories, knowledge, and artmaking. This project evokes the bicycle as a contemporary evocation of the Red River cart (li michif sharey), a common and important marker of Métis identity and communal livelihood. For the Métis nation, li michif sharey symbolizes the way that Indigenous communities have commonly migrated from one location to another, frequently crossing illegitimate national borders in the process. Unfortunately, Métis people rarely use the cart as a viable means of transportation, as it was surpassed by the automobile some time ago. Changes to diet and the reliance on the automobile has significantly altered the health of Native communities, creating a pandemic of diabetes, obesity, and related non-communicable diseases. Each of these issues exists at the foundation of Anishnaabensag Biimskowebshkigewag (Native Kids Ride Bikes).
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