The Heritage Center to feature interactive art installation

posted on September 13, 2012

On Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 10:00am, The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School and writer/artist Layli Long Soldier (Oglala Lakota) will open “Whereas We Respond”, a collaborative art installation.

Community members of the Pine Ridge Reservation will be on hand to respond to the Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native Americans signed by President Obama in 2009. All interested parties – artists, students, educators, elders, activists, parents, etc. – will be invited to interact with text from the National Apology by writing, drawing, painting, erasing or adding text, or sharing narratives and images directly onto the surface of a gallery wall in The Heritage Center.

Sometimes referred to as “the silent apology,” President Obama signed the Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native Americans on a weekend, shielded from the press. Tribal leaders were neither invited to nor present at the signing, and the President never read the apology publicly. The document has received mixed reviews from Native leaders, journalists and community members. For some, there is no knowledge of the apology at all.

Folded into a much longer piece of legislation called the Defense Appropriations Bill, the national apology acknowledges “a long history of official depredations and ill-conceived policies by the Federal Government,” citing the removal of Native people from traditional homelands and events like the massacre at Wounded Knee. The apology also concludes with disclaimers that, “Nothing in this Joint Resolution (1) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or (2) serves as a settlement of any claim…”

In the installation, as part of her ongoing work, Long Soldier explores the process of apology and forgiveness by asking, “What makes an apology effective? What incites forgiveness? How do apology and forgiveness work in Lakota community, families, and personal relationships? What makes a national apology effective for a People to whom it’s addressed?”

The installation is site specific to Red Cloud Indian School and will address a section of the congressional apology that concedes “the forcible removal of Native children and their families to faraway boarding schools where their Native practices and languages were degraded and forbidden.” As part of the installation (which will run until December of this year) Long Soldier will be onsite at The Heritage Center for five days to interact with participants.