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Government Apology Inspires Art Display

September 23, 2012, 10:01 PM by Derek Olson

Government Apology Inspires Art Display
PINE RIDGE, SD -

In 2009, Congress passed a resolution apologizing to Native Americans for the many instances of violence, maltreatment and neglect.  But even though President Obama signed the statement, few people knew it existed.  However, a project is in the works to bring more awareness to the apology.

"Obama signed the apology but it was never read out loud, it was never brought to public attention," exhibit creator Layli Long Soldier said.

"It didn't go public or anything.  Usually everything goes public but not this," Red Cloud 10th grader Jana McBride said.

Now, more than three years after the resolution was signed, students and guests to Red Cloud are getting a chance to express their reaction through art.

"I felt really upset, more than anything, that they didn't know anything about it and that they had the reaction they did about it, that they were really upset," Red Cloud art instructor Jessica Pearl Salas said.

Whereas We Respond is a piece that projects parts of the resolution onto gallery walls.  With markers and paint at the ready, people are encouraged to write their own response. 

"Addressing it doesn't necessarily mean, right now, forgiveness.  But it's still, I feel, important to do," Long soldier said.

On top of teaching students and gallery visitors about the resolution, it's also showing them that art doesn't have to be about paintings or sculptures.

"This is a very good conceptual art piece where you are allowed to react with words, not necessarily with images," Pearl Salas said.

"It's just to get some dialogue going.  I'm not expecting any particular result.  It's kind of an experiment," Long Soldier said.

The interactive exhibit opened on Tuesday and will run for three-months.  Time-lapse photography will document how the project evolves.

To see the apology, click here.

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