Saturday, December 17, 2022

Did Joe Biden lie, US names a warship after a massacre, and artifacts returned to Iraq

Friday, US President Joe Biden spoke in New Castle, Delaware at a Veterans Summit and PACT Act Town Hall.  He was speaking at The Beau Biden National Guard Reserve Center -- a place he and Jill Biden last visited January 19, 2021 when  "Jill and I stopped to say goodbye to Delaware as we were about to be sworn in in Washington, D.C. to take our Oath of Office." 

NATION.LK and FOX NEWS are convinced that he lied about how many times he has visited Iraq and Afghanistan.  FOX notes that, back in March, POLITIFACT found he had not been to the two "over 40 times" as he'd claimed them but  21 times.  Clearly, he hasn't been to either since March so 21 is still the number.

The two outlets cite this quote from Friday, "I've been in and out, not as, obviously, a combatant, but in and out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and those areas 38, 39 times as vice president, only twice as president."

So did he lie about the total number of visits?

I don't know and they don't either.  He said "Afghanistan, Iraq and those areas."  Those areas.  What is he claiming there?  Is he including Israel?  I have no idea and neither do they which countries Joe was referring to by "those areas."  And "those areas" would have to be the "twice as president."  He hasn't been to Iraq once since being elected president.  And he didn't even meet with Iraq's previous prime minister when the p.m. visited the US this fall to speak to the UN.

THE DAILY MAIL also gloms on the remarks about visiting Iraq and Afghanistan  without appearing to notice that "those areas" are in Friday's remarks.  THE MAIL's on stronger ground calling out this part of the speech:

He made the astonishing claims as he spoke to war veterans in Delaware and also  told them a previously unheard story of how his uncle Frank Biden won a Purple Heart medal for his service during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 during World War II.

There appeared to be some glaringly inaccurate key details in his tale - including there being no evidence of such an honor ever being awarded.

Biden went on to explain how his father urged him have his brother, Frank, be awarded the prestigious medal normally given to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after 5 April 1917, with the U.S. military.

The president claimed all of this happened when he had been elected as vice president, in 2008. However, his uncle Frank had passed away in 1999 and his own father died in 2002 making such a conversation impossible.

From The White House's official transcript of the speech:

You know, I — my dad, when I got elected Vice President, he said, “Joey, Uncle Frank fought in the Battle of the Bulge.”   He was not feeling very well now — not because of the Battle of the Bulge.  But he said, “And he won the Purple Heart.  And he never received it.  He never — he never got it.  Do you think you could help him get it?  We’ll surprise him.”

     So we got him the Purple Heart.  He had won it in the Battle of the Bulge.  And I remember he came over to the house, and I came out, and he said, “Present it to him, okay?”  We had the family there.

     I said, “Uncle Frank, you won this.  And I want to…”  He said, “I don’t want the damn thing.”  (Laughter.)  No, I’m serious.  He said, “I don’t want it.”  I said, “What’s the matter, Uncle Frank?  You earned it.”  He said, “Yeah, but the others died.  The others died.  I lived.  I don’t want it.” 

Just like a generation — this generation in Vietnam — excuse me, in — in Iraq.

The story, as Joe tells it, could not have happened. 

Frank Biden's obituary and gravestone allegedly fail to mention him as a Purple Heart recipient. Additionally, no one by that name is listed in a partial registry of known Purple Heart recipients, though this database is not extensive. The Nexis database and the archives of Joe Biden's public utterances do not contain any prior references to Frank Biden getting the Purple Heart which honors injured and dead troops. Interestingly, Joe Biden’s brother and uncle were both named Frank. His uncle, Frank H Biden died in 1999.

What those concerned about the truth -- at least with regards to Joe -- appear to have missed from his speech is this section:

One of the last times I flew into Iraq, I went up in the cockpit.  And they fly me with what’s called a “Silver Bullet” when you fly the President, and there’s a special container in the plane they stick you in. 

     And I went up with a — I went up with a group, and I was telling this to Beau’s father-in-law and my grade-school friend who’s sitting right there — and he’s taping it all because he’s going to use it against me here — (laughter) — Ronnie Olivere. 

How is anyone supposed to interpret that?  I think it can honestly be understood to be Joe saying that he visited Iraq as President and was in "what's called a 'Silver Bullet'" -- but the thing is, he's never visited Iraq once as President.  The last time he visited Iraq was 2016.  He wasn't president at that time.

So if you're concerned about a lie, there's one right there.

Staying on the topic of Iraq, The District Attorney's Office in Manhattan issued the following on Wednesday:

D.A. Bragg Announces Return of Antiquities Looted from the Iraqi Museum in 2003

December 14, 2022

       Pictured: “Stamp Seals”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., announced the return of antiquities to the People of Iraq that were looted from the Iraq Museum in 2003. The pieces were smuggled into the United States, where they were purchased through various galleries and online auctions by a private collector between 2004-2009. The antiquities were returned during a repatriation ceremony attended by Iraq’s Charge D’Affaires Dr. Salwan Sinjar and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tom Acocella.

“These stunningly preserved artifacts are just a few of the many antiquities looted from the Iraq Museum. Thanks to the thoroughness of our investigators and prosecutors, we discovered that these pieces were for sale online without the proper documentation. We are pleased that they are finally returning home to the museum where they rightfully belong,” said District Attorney Bragg.   

“I’m grateful for the work by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for its efforts to repatriate these precious, historic antiquities to Iraq,” said Dr.Salwan Sinjari, Iraqi Chargé d’Affairs to the United States. “These pieces belong to Iraq—and belong in Iraq—and now they will help the Iraqi people better understand and appreciate our own history and culture with this connection to the past. This is another example of the longstanding cooperation, friendship, and partnership between Iraq and United States.”

“Homeland Security Investigations is proud to stand with our partners from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Republic of Iraq to return these ancient cylinder and stamp seals. These items were looted by thieves taking advantage of the confusion of war to turn a profit with total disregard to their cultural value,” said Ivan J. Arvelo, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York. “These artifacts date from as far back as 2700 B.C.E. and were a critical part of everyday life in the ancient world. Now, they will return to their rightful home.”

The pieces returned include four cylinder seals and three stamp seals dating to between the Mesopotamian (2700-2500 B.C.E.) and the Neo-Babylonian (612-539 B.C.E.) periods. These seals were an important part of daily life and are engraved with figurative scenes. The carved illustrations on these seven seals depict images of gods, human figures, animals, and other scenes of worship. Each unique seal served as a personal signature to guarantee authenticity of either an individual or a business, and appear today almost exactly as they would have looked to the ancient people who used them.

In March of 2021, one of the stamp seals was listed for sale in an online auction, leading this Office to begin an investigation into its origin and provenance. Our investigation revealed that the consignor of this stamp seal was in possession of six additional seals that were all purchased shortly after the looting of the Iraq Museum and lacked any documentation confirming that they had entered the art market prior to 2003.

                   Pictured: “Cylinder Seals”

The investigation was conducted by Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos, Chief of the Antiquities Trafficking Unit; Assistant District Attorney James Edwards-Lebair; Supervising Investigative Analyst Apsara Iyer, Investigative Analyst Giuditta Giardini; and Special Agent Bobby Fromkin of Homeland Security Investigations.

In 2022, the office has returned 892 antiquities, valued at over $104 million to 15 countries. Since its founding, the Antiquities Trafficking Unit has returned over 2,400 antiquities, valued at over $200 million, to 22 countries.


In other news, there were two battles in/for/on Falluja during the early years of the Iraq War.  Neither were anything to brag about or take pride in.  Boys were not allowed to leave the city and were treated as armed adult fighters for 'pacification' purposes.  War Crimes were carried out.  The US used illegal weapons.  Nothing to be proud of.  

Yet a US warship is being named after the battles.

The United States Navy has named a next-generation helicopter assault ship the USS Fallujah, almost two decades after the western Iraqi city was the scene of bloody battles that killed hundreds of civilians.

[. . .]

The US-led coalition conducted a devastating bombing campaign before their second attack, forcing some 300,000 civilians to flee.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 civilians remained trapped in Fallujah during the assault, living through what the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) described at the time as a “catastrophic” humanitarian situation.

The ICRC announced immediately after the battle that some 800 Iraqi civilians were killed in the fighting. It later accused the US of using white phosphorus as a weapon to defeat the militants.

To this day, babies born in Fallujah have suffered disproportionately high levels of birth defects, including congenital heart disease, gastroschisis (where the digestive system is found outside the baby's body), and Spina Bifida.

One of the most documented reasons for the birth defects has been the lingering impact of uranium in the local environment, a remnant of the US bombardment.


Fallujah is where, just a few weeks after the fall of Baghdad in 2003, soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division opened fire on a crowd of civilian protesters and killed 17 of them; the U.S. military claimed that the first shots came from Iraqis, but there is no convincing evidence for that assertion and significant reporting to the contrary. Fallujah was a stronghold of the ousted dictator Saddam Hussein and for that reason, its residents fiercely opposed an unprovoked invasion that was, according to international law, flagrantly illegal.

Those killings were the prelude to a torrent of violence and destruction in 2004. The bloodshed that year included the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians; the point-blank murder of prisoners; and the torture of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison, just 20 miles away. Fallujah’s punishment even extended beyond the brutal era of its U.S. occupation; in years after, there has been a spike in cancers, birth defects, and miscarriages, apparently due to America’s use of munitions with depleted uranium.

Instead of apologizing for what was done, the U.S. is choosing to celebrate it: The Pentagon announced this week that a $2.4 billion warship will be named the USS Fallujah. The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David Berger, made clear that the military has decided to double down on its fairy tale of Fallujah as an American triumph. “Under extraordinary odds, the Marines prevailed against a determined enemy who enjoyed all the advantages of defending an urban area,” he said in a press release about the naming. “The battle of Fallujah is, and will remain, imprinted in the minds of all Marines and serves as a reminder to our nation, and its foes, why our Marines call themselves the world’s finest.”

The announcement noted that more than 100 U.S. and allied soldiers died in Fallujah but said nothing about the far larger toll of Iraqi civilians killed, the flattening of swathes of the city through extensive bombings, the apparent war crimes by U.S. forces, the health impacts on civilians that continue to this day — and the inconvenient fact that U.S. forces were unable to keep their hold on Fallujah for very long. For the Pentagon, it’s as if none of it mattered, or it didn’t happen.

In other news, Turkey has again attacked the Kurdistan again.  MEHR NEWS AGENCY notes, "Turkish army artillery attacked the Al-Amadiya region in Iraq's Duhok, according to the local media reports. Earlier on Saturday, the Turkish MoD announced that Turkish security forces managed to identify and kill two "PKK terrorists" in the north of Iraq. Under the pretext of fighting PKK, Turkey has deployed its troops in areas of northern Iraq and Syria and is conducting aerial attacks on parts of the northern areas of these countries."

Community note.  Doubt it'll go up Sunday but Ava and I are about to start working on our piece for THIRD.  Noting it here because it's not going to be about media.  We might do a small piece on the media.  But our big piece is inspired by lying whores like Jonathan Turley -- noted homophobe.  The biggest transphobe at Georgetown, in fact.  He's lying and whoring for another right-wing nightmare and we're not in the mood for so we're taking on the case, telling the truth and explaining why it should be tossed out of court.  Please note, we're explaining why it does not work on religious grounds and this will apply to most of the b.s. -- like Lorie Smith's nonsense -- that is nothing but b.s.  It's past time to confront these liars -- be it Jonathan Turley, Lorie Smith or whomever -- who keep pretending that they have a religious objection.  They do not.  And we'll be referring to the court filings of a homophobic teacher to demonstrate that, despite Jonathan Turley's lying and whoring for years, the homophobe has no religious objection.  I'm tired of the lies and tired of people humoring the nut jobs.

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    ‘Fierce Madres’ Plunge Into Gun Control Debate

    The drop


    When a teenage assailant shattered the lives of a predominately Hispanic community in Texas, a group of mothers channeled their grief into action.


    ‘Systemic Failures’

    Sarah Brown in Rio de Janeiro


    In the late morning of May 24, 2022, an 18-year-old ex-pupil of Robb Elementary drove to his former school in Uvalde, Texas, and left his ramshackle truck in a ditch nearby. He entered the school through a side door and walked into a classroom where students were having class. Armed with a legally-purchased semiautomatic rifle, he fired over 100 rounds across two classrooms, killing 19 children and two teachers.

    We’ve been ignored and neglected, but one thing about [Hispanic mothers] is you do not mess with our kids.

     - Angela Villescaz   


    It was one of the deadliest school shootings in the U.S., leaving the predominantly Hispanic community of Uvalde reeling from grief. Local and state law enforcement officers waited outside the classroom for over an hour before the U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit reacted and fatally shot the assailant. A Texas House committee subsequently found that “systemic failures” had caused the delay in action by law enforcement.

    In the wake of the massacre, Angela Villescaz told a reporter, “We’ve been ignored and neglected, but one thing about [Hispanic mothers] is you do not mess with our kids.” She then vowed, “We’re going to do something about this. I promise.”

    Villescaz is the founder of Fierce Madres, a Latina advocacy group that has united hundreds of local mothers and grandmothers seeking to turn profound tragedy into what they see as a revolution to eliminate gun violence and promote firearm safety.

    In this week’s episode of the Sheroics podcast, host Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto talks with the Fierce Madres founder and Hispanic mother who is determined to make her hometown of Uvalde a safe place for her community and its kids. Villescaz didn’t lose a child in the May shooting. She is driven by a commitment to protect all children.

    “Don’t mess with fierce mothers,” said Cruz Soto.

    ‘They’re Just Children’


    While law enforcement waited almost 80 minutes after the first emergency call before confronting the shooter, officers also held back parents who were trying to rescue their children. One of those parents was Angeli Gomez.

    Gomez was briefly handcuffed by police after trying to rush into the school to save her kids. When the handcuffs were removed, she jumped a fence and grabbed her sons from their classroom. She later joined Villescaz to become one of Fierce Madres’ first volunteers.

    Prior to founding the advocacy group, Villescaz had spent more than 20 years working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. “I’ve always, my whole life, been a Mexican American activist wanting equality,” she told OZY.

    Gomez was briefly handcuffed by police after trying to rush into the school to save her kids. When the handcuffs were removed, she jumped a fence and grabbed her sons from their classroom.



    Under Villescaz’s leadership, the Fierce Madres have become vocal advocates for change. They initially demanded the removal of Uvalde school police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, who was blamed for the police’s hesitant approach and was later dismissed after a unanimous board vote. The Madres are now lobbying for more stringent gun control, including raising the minimum age to buy assault rifles from 18 to 21 years old. They also seek to improve school safety by recruiting what they call “gun-sense” candidates to run for political office. They are also setting up gun safety chapters across Texas. In the pipeline for next year are partnerships with grassroots organizations, such as Moms Demand Action, to promote firearm safety in localities across the country, and exploring further options for other legislative reforms.

    “They’re just children,” said Villescaz. “They depend on us to protect them, and we need to protect them with our laws.”

    She has vowed to spend the rest of her life safeguarding children from gun violence.


    At age 10, Youssef Hasweh learned that his family would not be able to afford college tuition. At 17, he was off to the University of Chicago on a full scholarship. Determined to “pay it forward,” Youssef’s Your Success Scholarship program has already given away more than $17,000 in scholarships to disadvantaged students. To “change the face of access,” Youssef’s program has built “a student-led higher education advocacy platform for low-income, first-generation students of color.” The challenge Youssef hopes to overcome with his OGA? “How do I continue to satisfy the demands of a growing community and serve every student possible?”

    Imbalance of Power


    Once a town where Mexican Americans were largely segregated from the white population, Uvalde has a history of social uprising. A six-week protest in 1970 led by hundreds of students after the dismissal of one of Robb Elementary’s few Latino teachers set in motion a series of regional reforms, including changes to segregation and more diverse representation on the school board.

    Yet the history of discrimination lingers today. In a place that is around 82% Hispanic, just 10 to 15% of the town’s wealth belongs to that group and a fifth of the population lives in poverty. Noting that power remains imbalanced, Villescaz said, “Our county judge is white, our mayor is white, our superintendent is white, and our state representative. They call all the shots.”

    I’m a woman of faith. I believe that something good can come out of all of this.

     - Angela Villescaz   


    The Fierce Madres face other challenges as well. Several social movements, including the advocacy groups that emerged after the Sandy Hook massacre, have mostly failed to win any significant federal gun reform or secure other major changes.

    This does not deter Villescaz.

    “I’m a woman of faith. I believe that something good can come out of all of this,” she said. “I don’t believe that we should just move on.”

    In this week’s episode of Sheroics, Cruz Soto focuses on the way the Fierce Madres turned tragedy into a campaign to uphold the values they hold dear. In her view, Villescaz and the Fierce Madres prove that grief can be a powerful catalyst for action.




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    New Issue of The Black Commentator - Holiday Issue 936 Dec 16, 2022

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    This Art Walk Elevates Dakota History


    OZY    A Modern Media CompanyShare This Sh*t          December 16, 2022
    The drop


    Native American artist Marlena Mykes is turning her Dakota homelands into an AR gallery space, fusing history and tradition with technology.


    Hidden in Plain Sight

    Bobby Twidale from Excelsior MN

    @bobby-twidale  circleicon linkedin

    I climb the steep path from the visitor center at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska to the Harrison Sculpture Garden, keeping one eye on the blue arrow on my phone’s screen. It’s leading me through a riot of fall color to a stone circle at the highest point in the parkland. I’m not here for the stone circle or the sculpture sitting in it — there’s nothing concrete indicating what I’m about to experience. This is the first stop on Dakota Sacred Hoop Walk, the latest work by Spirit Lake Dakota artist Marlena Myles.

    Myles’ new work — like her other public art installation, “Dakota Spirit Walk,” in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota — is an augmented reality (AR) experience. Myles wanted a way to share her ancestors’ connection to Minnesota landscapes, and their history, language and culture, without making any physical impact on the environment itself. The answer came from an unexpected source: an interactive game.

    “I saw Pokemon Go and I thought: ‘People are really having a good time going outside and looking at their neighborhood in a different way.’ When I look at the land, I see Dakota spirits and connections. I thought I could do something similar,” she explains. AR made sense. Via a smartphone app, her art and storytelling come together in locations significant to Dakota people to create an immersive installation.

    This new piece explores the Sacred Hoop, in Dakota doctrine a metaphor for the circle of life. When finished in spring 2023, the walk will lead visitors to five familiar Arboretum landmarks, revealing Dakota wisdom hidden beneath the surface.

    At the stone circle, I scan the information board with my phone, then step inside. Wóȟpe, the Dakota spirit of harmony, rises ahead of me. Seen through my phone screen, she is as vibrant as the colors of the landscape around her but ephemeral, like the warm breeze making the leaves dance. Through my headphones, Wóhpe’s voice narrates the lessons of the circle and introduces its other inhabitants, the Dakota spirits of the four compass points. It is an immersive experience but I remain fully present in the setting.

    Translating the Modern Landscape into Dakota

     Artwork by Marlena Myles

    Myles is a self-taught artist, and uses graphic design software to incorporate the colorful geometric designs — abstract and figurative — typical of Dakota art into her own vibrant pieces. Hundreds of layers are fused digitally, creating the images she uses in prints, murals, books, fabrics and animations. This was less a departure from tradition, more a continuance of her culture, she explains, which has always embraced innovation. Her art “translates modern places into Dakota.”

    A self-declared activist, she’s always been interested in the power of art to communicate important messages. She wanted to use her work to celebrate Native American culture and oral traditions of her community, and to tell the history of the land through a Dakota perspective. Myles thought Minnesotan people from all backgrounds should see images that represent her culture in public spaces.

    Raised in Little Earth, a Native American community in Minneapolis, Myles felt a disconnect between what her schoolmates saw in the land around them and the meanings she perceived beneath its surface. “I never really saw anything in Minneapolis that showed this was Dakota homelands,” she says, adding, “They lived here their whole life, and it never occurred to them they were speaking Dakota when they said: ‘I'm from Minnesota.’”

    In 2014, she started working as a gallery attendant, then graphic designer, at All My Relations, a Native American art space in Minneapolis. She used the opportunity to “see what other professional artists were doing.” But it was in 2019 that Myles really began to realize the potential of her work. “It wasn’t until I created the Dakota Land Map that I saw it become impactful, not just in museums or gallery spaces but in public spaces, schools and businesses,” she says.

    The map, she says, “tells the story of the past, present and future of Dakota people,” with locations throughout the Twin Cities identified by their Dakota names — Isánthanka Mazóphiye Thánka (Mall of America), Mnísota Wóunspe Wakántuya (the University of Minnesota) — and locations of significance to her people, such as burial mounds, clearly marked. The mapping is ongoing, with the latest, the Minnesota River Valley, published in early December.

    I don't want people to always engage with Native art in a museum space, because that puts us as ‘antiques’ — it doesn't put our stories on the land. I want to create things that make nature into something that you can experience in a deeper way.

     - Marlena Myles   


    Myles is now an established and award-winning artist. Her work can be seen in public spaces and in prestigious galleries such as the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Red Cloud Heritage Center and the Minnesota Museum of American Art. In 2021, she launched her publishing house, Wíyouŋkihipi (We Are Capable) Productions: “A platform for Dakota voices to publish and pass on teachings to future generations.”

    Following the success of her first AR workMyles began conceptualizing “Dakota Sacred Hoop Walk.” She reached out once again to the team that brought the Saint Paul installation to life: Todd Boss, creator of the Revelo AR app, and Jeff Stevens, creative director at Pixel Farm. Revelo AR uses AR and geolocation to create virtual gallery spaces for artists.

    “Augmented reality ‘places’ art that you view through your phones,” Myles explains. “It’s a great piece of technology because it doesn’t disturb sites.”

    Pixel Farm brought their technical genius to the table. Creative director, Stevens, shares his vision: “We came up with this concept of using geolocation-based augmented reality, which means anywhere in the world you can use geolocation which says: ‘I am here at this spot and now I get to see something’ — like a museum, but now it’s interactive.”

    Next, Myles needed a new location. In a happy coincidence, Wendy DePaolis, curator of art and sculpture at the Arboretum, had already contacted Myles, looking to collaborate. “I’m always on the lookout for artists who match our mission to connect people to the environment through art,” DePoalis says.

    The sculpture garden proved an intuitive fit for the first stop of “Dakota Sacred Hoop Walk.” Myles says, “To Dakota people the highest place in the land is a place of power, where your voice can reach further places and so I wanted to create at this spot.”

    “I don't want people to always engage with Native art in a museum space, because that puts us as ‘antiques’ — it doesn't put our stories on the land. I want to create things that make nature into something that you can experience in a deeper way.”

    Wóhpe had found her home.

    DePaolis admits Myles’ work left a big impression. "I was astounded by the way she transformed a land and space I thought I knew so well. I will never look at High Point in the same way," she says.


    Working as a coding teacher, Temple University sophomore Avi Knotts often heard parents express the wish that they could afford training for their children. Avi understood this wish, having grown up in a financially unstable household with no access to computers. Through tenacity and perseverance, Avi gained admission to a computer science program that changed her life path. Her research into artificial intelligence and algorithmic bias inspired Avi to create her nonprofit, Avi I.T. Inc., providing “the opportunity to acquire computer science skills, alleviate the digital divide,” and offer students the tools they need to learn valuable skills in a supportive environment.

    A New Frontier for Art

     Marlena Myles

    The possibilities this technology opens up for artists are mind-blowing, and Myles is keen to pass on her knowledge by mentoring up-and-coming Native American artists.

    Local Lakota artist Olawan Un Wicawiyun Winyan, known as Delaena Uses Knife, has a visual style that channels the graphics of Disney and Pixar. Like her mentor, she has an eye on educating future generations and wants to use her illustrations in books for children. From Myles, she’s learning how to develop animated 3D AR sequences and to navigate her way around the commercial side of the art business. Shared experience brought the two artists together. “She wanted me to help her create work where she can speak about how contemporary Lakota people are living in Rapid City,” says Myles: “I want to show her as much as I can.”

    We can tell stories that aren't often told, but also expose people to literally see somebody else's worldview.

     - Wicanhpi Iyotan Win Autumn Cavender   


    Wicanhpi Iyotan Win Autumn Cavender is an artist, midwife and Dakota language and decolonization advocate from the Pezutazizi K’api Upper Sioux Community in Minnesota. Activism is in her blood, as her grandfather and mother are both internationally renowned Indigenous genocide scholars. But, as she puts it, she found “a different path forward to do the same kind of work.” She embarked on a journey into the traditional art of her ancestors, starting with an apprenticeship in porcupine quill working, a discipline in which the quills are washed, dyed, flattened and then used for artwork — wrapped, appliqued onto fabric or leather, and used in weaving.

    During the pandemic, Cavender started to use artificial intelligence to interface audio with geometric design. “I developed a process I called generative quillwork,” says Cavender. “I input audio files into a program, and it generates a base image that looks like quilled wrap work. By manipulating that image, I get these really crazy patterns.”

    “I now have the capacity to plug in traditional audios, including melodies without lyrics, and get back things that are essential to the content or origin story of that song,” she says.

    Like Myles, the opportunity to immerse people in a culture that co-exists, unseen, alongside their own is seductive. “We can tell stories that aren't often told, but also expose people to literally see somebody else's worldview,” Cavender explains. “We always bring baggage with us, and it's the lens through which we see. When we're forced into seeing something very different, we can't revert to that filter we put on the world. The reality we're experiencing is different from what we've been programmed to see.”

    The first stop of “Dakota Sacred Hoop Walk” is live now. Tickets are available, with free entry for Native American visitors, via the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum ticketing line: 612-301-6775.



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    OZY is a diverse, global and forward-looking media and entertainment company focused on “the New and the Next.” OZY creates space for fresh perspectives, and offers new takes on everything from news and culture to technology, business, learning and entertainment.

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