Dialogue/Presentation: Anišinabe Waki-Aztlán Exhibition (1977)

Program date: Tuesday, September 28, 2021, 7:00-8:30pm CST

Delving into shared Indigenous and Chicanx cultural histories, Anišinabe Waki-Aztlán was a 1977 exhibition at Harry S. Truman College that featured both Indigenous and Chicano artists and was organized by Movimiento Artístico Chicano (MARCh) & the Chicago Indian Artist Guild. A total of 52 participating artists and organizers including Loniel Poco,  Joe Yazzie, Sharon Okee-Chee Skolnic, Sal Vega, Carlos Cumpián and many more participated in the show with posters made by Carlos Cortéz Koyokuikatl.

This presentation and discussion shared a brief history on the exhibition and had artists and scholars Carlos Cumpián, Sharon Okee-Chee, Dylan A.T. Miner, Ph.D. Programmed and moderated by Jose Luis Benavides.

Made possible in part by a grant from Illinois Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Illinois General Assembly

Image source: Carlos A. Cortéz, Anisinabe Waki-Aztlan, 1977, linoleum cut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Carlos Cumpián was born and raised in Texas and now lives in Chicago. He is the author of the poetry collections Coyote Sun (1990), Armadillo Charm (1996), and 14 Abriles (2010), as well as the children’s book Latino Rainbow: Poems About Latino Americans (1995, illustrated by Richard Leonard). His poems have appeared in many anthologies, including Emergency Tacos: Seven Poets con Picante, With a Book in Their Hands: Chicano Readers and Readership Across the Centuries, Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature, Dream of a Word: The Tia Chucha Press Poetry Anthology, and El Coro: A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poetry. Cumpián edits March Abrazo Press.

Sharon Okee-Chee is a Fort Sill Chiricahua Apache-Sioux tribal elder and recognized artist, writer, archivist, former-director of The American Indian Center. She attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M. She has exhibited at Michigan State University Museum and the University of Tulsa’s Gilcrease Museum. She was featured in the City of Chicago-sponsored Chicago Artists Month program in October 2011. She also created a diorama of Native dolls for an exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum. For a decade she operated Okee-Chee’s Wild Horse Gallery, Chicago’s first Native American art gallery. Her 1997 childhood memoir “Where Courage Is Like a Wild Horse: The World of an Indian Orphanage” (University of Nebraska Press), written with her husband Manny Skolnick, earned a literary award from Friends of American Writers Chicago.

Salvador Vega was born on May 6, 1957 in Chicago, Il in the Little Village, La Villita, the 26th street barrio. He attended McCormick Chicago Public School where he became interested in art. Graduated from Harrison High School (CPS), where he started his work as a muralist. He painted his first murals there, “Mother Earth” and “Drug Sadness” and “La Azteca.” He worked with Mexican-born artist Aurelio Diaz on the mural “Xochilmilco” in the 18th street Pilsen barrio. Sal also collaborated with the late Rey Vasquez on a few projects but in Pilsen’s Dvorjak Park, Sal worked with the highly acclaimed artists Juanita Jaramillo and Marcos Raya. Vega also created a special portable mural for the alternative high school Latino Youth, Inc. He has had numerous solo exhibits across Illinois.

Dylan A.T Miner, PhD is an artist, activist, and scholar. He is Director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, as well as Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, at Michigan State University. In Spring 2019, he was Denison Visiting Professor of Native American Studies at Central Michigan University. In 2010, he was an Artist Leadership Fellow at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. He serves on the board of the Michigan Indian Education Council and is a founding member of the Justseeds artist collective. Miner is a registered citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario. @wiisaakodewinini 

Jose Luis Benavides is a queer Latinx artist, filmmaker and educator. His work was recently featured in Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival, Chicago, US (2020), Full Spectrum Feature’s – Chicago Cinema Exchange: Mexico City (2020), Onion City: Experimental Film and Video Festival, Chicago, US (2020), MSU Latinx Film Festival, Lansing, US (2020), and Revolutions Per Minute Festival, University of Massachusetts Boston, US (2020). He also programs video-art screenings through Sin Cinta Previa: Latinx & Queer Archive Video Series, which was awarded a POWER Project grant from the Art Leaders of Color Network (2018) and a Propeller Fund grant (2019). @lu3ge