Global Initiative for Indigenous Advancement
The Global Initiative for Indigenous Advancement (GIIA) in collaboration with artist Lilly E. Manycolors is proud to announce a human-centered art installation called Miskodoodiswan or the Red Dress Lodge Project, featured prominently on the Boston Common. This project was funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), with the permission of the Massachusetts Tribal Nation, and approved by the Boston Art Commission (BAC).
“The topic of missing murdered Indigenous women is one that brings with it lots of emotion for the Indigenous community,” said Daniel StrongWalker Thomas, Chief Servant Leader at Global Initiative for Indigenous Advancement. “It is a subject that deserves deep thought, care and action. We are humbled and grateful to the Massachuset-Ponkapoag Tribal Council for granting Lilly permission for this project to take place on their lands.”
Boston Common was chosen for the location for the installation in an effort to indigenize a colonized space and return space, place, time, and visibility to Indigenous peoples. In addition to recognizing the lives of MMIW and calling attention to this epidemic, the project also creates a space for decolonization and connection between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The project promotes a world where Indigenous lives are respected and cared for.
“Our womxn are part of the structural integrity of Indigenous life,” said the artist, Lilly E. Manycolors. “We need our womxn well just as we need the land well. This installation brings awareness to one of the most colonized places in the U.S. in hopes of people rallying to eradicate this a system of genocide. This is what happens when nations come together. We tell the colonial concrete and make space for ourselves and our relatives.”
The installation includes a physical lodge with a cover made from a tapestry of red dresses. The tapestry was created by the Indigenous community and allies during a sewing session earlier this summer and the red dresses symbolize the MMIW and girls the installation honors. The lodge was constructed with the support of the local tribes — Nipmuc, Pocasset-Pokanoket, Narragansett, and Wampanoag — and with the guidance of Andre SrongBearHeart Gaines Jr., a Nipmuc citizen, cultural steward, and Vice President of Global Initiative for Indigenous Advancement.
“As this year, 2020, marks the 400th anniversary of colonial settlers arriving on the traditional lands of the Massachuset, Wampanoag, and Nipmuc people, this is a uniquely timely moment to lift up decolonial dialogues around the erasure of Indigenous peoples’ stories on this land,” said Kim Szeto, Program Director, Public Art at the New England Foundation for the Arts. “NEFA believes that diverse, cultural, and artistic expressions are essential to more equitable, inclusive, and vibrant public spaces and public life. Miskodoodiswan exemplifies this core value as it creatively engages an important conversation around murdered and missing Indigenous womxn, two-spirit people, and children.”
The temporary nature of the lodge demonstrates the erasure of Indigenous peoples in modern cities, and the structure is meant to actively engage the public. The Red Dress Lodge Project will be featured on the Boston Common from July 5 - August 2, 2020. The timing of the installation was selected in response to the 400 year Pilgrim’s anniversary of colonialism.
About The Global Initiative for Indigenous Advancement
The Global Initiative for Indigenous Advancement, Inc (GIIA) is a 501c3 NGO created in 2000, with the mission of advancing the social, health, education, and economic status of Indigenous people worldwide. By splitting the mission into these four equally important pillars, Global Initiative for Indigenous Advancement can better serve the Indigenous communities around the world by addressing the plight of the Native people everywhere and its root causes. Learn more on their website at https://giia.ngo.
About Lilly E. Manycolors
Lilly E. Manycolors is a mixed Choctaw interdisciplinary artist known for her emotionally-excavating artworks and performances, bringing into conversation experiences of otherness, transformation, trauma and healing, gender, and possibilities of being one’s complex self. Learn more on her website www.wovenwomxn.com.