» Catalyst Series
Dimensions of Indigenous & Cultural Identity Politics

Ce Tempoxcalli and Intermedia Arts present
Dimensions of Indigenous & Cultural Identity Politics
Curated by Electric Machete Studios
Featuring work by Gordon Coons, Ojibwa, Lac Courte Oreilles
& Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra, Xinka-Lenca, El Salvador

The impacts of colonization can still be felt today in our communities, manifesting in different but similarly meaningful ways for Indigenous Peoples living in the Midwest. The tension, distrust, and trauma from generations of relocation, cultural appropriation, assimilation and genocide make unity difficult for those who have survived. Further, divide and conquer tactics such as tribal enrollment, blood quantum, and erasure add to the tensions that have built up onto the invisible barriers of colonial thinking that keep our communities divided.

As Dimensions of Indigenous seeks to unite Indigenous people of the four directions and as tension around immigration and who can claim to be Indigenous make it difficult, in a stripped down version of the exhibition curators Gordon Coons and Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra explore dimensions of Indigeneity through an intimate view of their practice. In conversation with one another, their installation work explores Indigenous cultural identity politics through the modern expression of color and paper cuttings. 


Dig Deeper ...

Opening Reception
November 28, 2016 | 5:30PM
Join us for an opening reception with artists, snacks, music, and installation performances in collaboration with the #sayhername performance, also opening on the same evening.

Storytelling Bus + Potluck Feast + Talking Circle: Dimensions of Indigeneity in Minnesota
January 29, 2017 | 3-5PM
A Storytelling Bus will pick you up at locations around the Twin Cities (see schedule below). Travel on the bus to the Talking Circle and Potluck feast while listening to and sharing stories by Al Gross, Lupe Castillo, and more. Jessica Lopez Lyman, PhD and Ashley Fairbanks, White Earth Nation, moderate a talking circle with a diverse panel of artists, educators, and cultural community organizers including Brittany Anderson, Sasha Brown, Dr. M. Bianet Castellanos, Lupe Catillo, Liza Guerra Garcia, Esq., Sammie Ardito Rivera, and Dr. Gabriela Spears-Rico. In a poignant conversation, we will get honest about dimensions of Indigeneity and cultural identity politics as it relates to our shared liberation. Co-presented with the Department of Chicano & Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota, Ce Tempoxcalli, Electric Machete Studios, and The Ordway.

The Storytelling Bus
Travel on the bus to the Talking Circle and Potluck feast while listening to and sharing stories by Al Gross, Lupe Castillo, and more. Anyone and everyone is invited to hop on the Storytelling Bus (see pick up and drop off times below). As we travel across the Twin Cities, we invite people to offer a story for intercultural exchange. It can be traditional, historical, or personal. There is no pressure. It is meant to be fun and anyone is welcome to speak. Feel free to bring some food or drink to share at the Potluck Feast on the bus with you, however it is not necessary. The bus will return in reverse order, or you are welcome to leave directly from Intermedia Arts.

Storytelling Bus Pick Up Schedule:
The bus will be departing each location at the following times. See the return drip drop off schedule below.

1:55PM —Electric Machete Studios, 777 Smith Ave S, St Paul, MN 55107
—Frogtown Neighborhood Association, 501 Dale St., St. Paul MN 55103
2:30PM —PowWow Grounds, 1414 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
2:40PM —Little Earth, 2495 18th Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55404


Potluck Feast & Talking Circle Schedule:

3PM | Opening blessing and food

3:15-4:30PM | Talking Circle, led by Jessica Lopez Lyman, PhD and Ashley Fairbanks, White Earth Nation. Part of the conversation will include discussing the relationship between Indigenous people of the North and South. What are some misconceptions we might have about each other? What responsibility do Chicanx/Latinx communities have to Native people in the U.S., and specifically Minnesota considering that for many of us, this is not our homeland? Inspired by the same motivation, in the era of anti-immigrant legislation what work is necessary in Native communities regarding a broader coalition among Indigenous people? 

4:30-5:00PM | Closing and Viewing of Exhibit


Bus Return Schedule:

5PM —Board for return home
5:20PM —Little Earth, 2495 18th Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55404
5:30PM —PowWow Grounds, 1414 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
5:50PM —Frogtown Neighborhood Association, 501 Dale St., St. Paul MN 55103
6PM —Electric Machete Studios, 777 Smith Ave S, St Paul, MN 55107


Special thanks to Ce Tempoxcalli, Electric Machete Studios, The Ordway for sponsoring the bus, and to B Fresh Productions for documenting the journey. 

The semi-annual all nations art exhibition series, Dimensions of Indigenous, originated with Los Nativos, a local Rhymesayers Chicano hip hop group, in 2003. Los Nativos, who hosts the Anti-Columbus Day concert, featured Indigenous artists of the North and South as a way for Chicano artists to carve out a space for the counter-narrative as Indigenous identified Chicano artists and for nation-bridging as a Native arts community in the Twin Cities. Innovative for it’s time, the art portion soon outgrew the small concert venue in the 7th Street Entry and Dimensions of Indigenous, the art exhibition series was birthed in 2005. With a mission of uniting Indigenous artists of the 4 directions around common themes of Decolonization, Identity, Resistance, & Survival, Dimensions of the Indigenous has featured artists from over 25 first nations and planted the seeds for cross-continental understanding as Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Today, as more and more work continues to emerge around this theme, Dimensions of Indigenous evolves into deeper and more specific themes around Cultural Identity Politics and the invisible barriers of colonial thinking that keep our communities divided.

READ: Lydia Howell's 2009 TC Daily Planet Article: Once again, Intermedia Arts explores "Dimensions of Indigenous" 


Gordon Coons’ heritage is Ojibwa from Lake Superior Chippewa Band of Wisconsin (from his father) and Ottawa from Michigan (from his mother). He is an enrolled member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe of northern Wisconsin.  Originally from Wisconsin, Gordon is now living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Gordon is a self-taught artist, creating works in a variety of mediums including linoleum block prints, paintings, pen and ink, carvings in stone and wood. Although his artwork is more contemporary, each piece portrays a unique view of traditional native stories, incorporating strong family influences into the image. Gordon is an accomplished artist and has won numerous recognition awards, has work in permanent collections and in galleries throughout the country.

Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra is an emerging interdisciplinary post-modern folk artist, curator, and civic artist working in the intersections of art, culture, community, and equity. Her practice includes visual art, music, dance, and performance with an emphasis on Latinx/Indigenous art methods. Her work lives in the Nepantla or in-between of Christianity and Indigeneity and explores iconography, propaganda, Decolonization, and Liberation Theology. 

Rebekah co-founded Electric Machete Studios, a Twin Cities Art and Music cooperative and gallery, where she serves as Artistic director. She writes and performs music as Lady Xok. She also works with Intermedia Arts as curator of the exhibition series Dimensions of Indigenous, uniting Indigenous people of the 4 directions, and with Creative CityMaking Minneapolis addressing systemic inequity. She is self-taught, family-taught, and studied studio art at St. Olaf College and Holtekilen Folkehøgskole in Oslo, Norway. Rebekah has over 10 years experience as a teaching artist in non-profits, churches, and schools sharing cultural storytelling and environmentally-just reuse found-object resquatche techniques. 

Ashley Fairbanks
is an Anishinaabe woman and citizen of the White Earth Nation. She operates as a socially-conscious designer and public artist. She works with a cohort of artists that do racial justice popular education and organizing. She seeks to use her design skills to activate people around issues ranging from police brutality to environmental justice. She has worked with the Energy Action Coalition, Indigenous Environmental Network and Honor the Earth to create campaigns around the KXL and Sandpiper pipelines and protecting our water from mining.

Jessica Lopez Lyman received her Ph.D. in Chicana and Chicano Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She studies Midwest Chicanx/Latinx culture and performance. Her manuscript, tentatively titled Midwest Mujeres: Chicana/Latina Performance examines racialized and gendered geographies of the Midwest through poetry, theater, hip hop, and visual art. Jessica has been published in Chicana/Latina Studies Journal, Label Me Latina/o, and Praxis: Gender and Cultural Critiques. Her other research interests include Chicana feminisms, decolonial studies, and gentrification. 

Jessica is a member of Electric Machete Studios, a Chicanx/Latinx/Indigenous art collective on St. Paul’s West Side. She is working on a multi-media performance piece, Trimmings, about her grandfather, an L.A. barber, and rituals of the home. Jessica has performed at First Avenue, Intermedia Arts, and Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (MACLA) to name a few. She currently is a Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies.


Brittany Anderson is Anishinaabe from Fond du Lac. She received her B.A. in Political Science, American Indian Studies & Indigenous Human Rights from the University of Minnesota, Morris. Currently, Brittany is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities where she advises several student organizations. She is on the Board of Directors of the Nawayee Center School and on the board of the North Star AISES Alliance & Professional Chapter. Brittany is completing her Masters of Education in Youth Development and Leadership at the University of Minnesota where she hopes to increase American Indian retention in higher education.


Dr. M. Bianet Castellanos is associate professor and interim chair of Chicano and Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is also an affiliated faculty member in the departments of American Indian Studies, Chicano & Latino Studies, Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change, and Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies. She received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Michigan. She has spent 25 years working with Maya communities in Mexico and more recently in Los Angeles. Her publications include A Return to Servitude: Maya Migration and the Tourist Trade in Cancún (University of Minnesota Press, 2010) and the co-edited volume (with Lourdes Gutiérrez Nájera and Arturo Aldama) entitled Comparative Indigeneities of the Américas: Toward a Hemispheric Approach (University of Arizona Press 2012). 


Liza Guerra Garcia, Esq. is an attorney and currently serves as the Tribal/State Court Liaison for the Fourth Judicial District, Family Court Enhancement Project in Minnesota.  Her prior experiences includes serving as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Honorable Kathleen A. Mottl at the State of Minnesota Judicial Branch and as an investigator with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. She has served as a delegate to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues for the North American Preparatory region, and the Indigenous People Global Summit on Climate Change in Alaska in 2009, where she participated in the draft of the “The Anchorage Declaration” submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  She is published in varying newsprint media and authored a law review article entitled, "Free the Land: A Call for Local Governments to Address Climate-Induced Food Insecurity in Environmental Justice Communities" in 2015. Liza is a member of the United Confederation of Taino People, the Indigenous people of Boriken (Puerto Rico). 

Sammie Ardito Rivera is a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe with paternal ties to White Earth. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Sammie spent most of her young adult life learning from diverse communities across the United States while working on issues of economic justice, Indigenous rights, environmental justice, education, and climate. She received her movement education in the San Francisco Bay Area and earned a Bachelor of Science in Applied Indigenous Studies with an emphasis in Traditional Knowledge at Northern Arizona University. She currently works as the Operations & Project Director at Marnita’s Table.  In addition, she is the co-founder of Sin Fronteras Farm & Food with her husband Eduardo and is in the process of being trained to be a full spectrum doula. She is passionate about creating resilient, sustainable, healthy, and just communities for her daughter and for all our future generations.

Dr. Gabriela Spears-Rico hails from Michoacan and grew up along the American West Coast calling migrant worker camps 'home.' She was the first place winner of the Xochiquetzalli Poetry Prize for Native/Latina women's poetry and was a featured poet at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies including; Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas (University of Arizona Press, 2011) and Poesia mexicana en la frontera norte (UNAM, 2011). She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies and American Indian Studies. 




ABOUT ELECTRIC MACHETE STUDIOS www.electricmachete.com
Electric Machete Studios (EMS) is a Twin Cities collective of artists, musicians, dancers, stylists, producers, film makers, fashion designers, curators, teachers, and community organizers working alongside and with one another in the contemporary creative narrative of the Xican@/Latinx/Indigenous identity and artistic style.
Electric Machete Studios (EMS) is a Twin Cities art and music collective featuring contemporary and experimental work rooted in traditional Latinx and Indigenous art methods. In September 2015, Electric Machete Studios opened a flexible white box gallery in St. Paul. They believe that educating others on traditional art forms is critical for the survival of Xican@/Latinx/Indigenous histories and cultures. Intergenerational workshops, community art happenings (improvised performance events), and art exhibits serve as the foundation for highlighting social justice issues within our communities. Their work seeks to intervene in cultural displacement and racial inequities by offering alternative spaces, counter narratives, and community building opportunities for Xican@/Latinx/Indigenous people in the Twin Cities in solidarity with Indigenous people throughout the Americas.

Ce Tempoxcalli's mission is to build healthy communities by revitalizing Indigenous cultural knowledge. It is with a Mexica (Aztec) heart that Ce Tempoxcalli serves Indigenous peoples of the four directions through the program areas of Arts and Culture, Environmental Justice, Health and Wellness, and Community and Youth Development.


The vision for the Department of Chicano & Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota is inspired by words taken from El Plan de Santa Barbara, the founding document of a national movement to establish Chicano studies at the University: "We take as our credo what Jose Vasconcelos once said at a time of crisis and hope: ‘At this moment we do not come to work for the University, but to demand that the University work for our people.’" To that end, the Department of Chicano & Latino Studies strives to achieve their departmental mission by offering a rigorous undergraduate degree program that is complemented by extensive civic engagement, outreach efforts, and public programming activities.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund, and a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota

A Part of Intermedia Arts' Catalyst Series