Friday, February 19, 2021

Illuminate The Lock - Madweyaashkaa: Waves Can Be Heard. GO!

Happy 2021, Everybody! Phew, a LOT has happened since I last posted a story, and that's for many reasons, but here I am, and HI! I hope you're doing awesome (as awesome as can be expected during the still global pandemic and within such a deeply divided nation, but I bet you can think of SOMETHING awesome going for you), and are still here for good stories. Cause I am! The something awesome for me at the moment was the beautiful, excellent, deeply moving event I attended last night at the Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam in downtown Minneapolis. Illuminate The Lock was the highlight of 2021 for me so far (other than getting vaccination appointments for my Mom and myself), by far. Just WOW. 

Madweyaashkaa: Waves Can Be Heard was the title of the piece by Moira Villiard that was projected on the Lock above the Mississippi River last night, and for the next two nights, Friday and Saturday. I cannot recommend this event highly enough, and if you're in the area and you can still snag a time slot for this thing - just go and thank me later. Seriously. 


There have been so few cool things to do during the pandemic, that when I hear of something - ANYTHING - that might inspire or beguile, I go. Even in the dead of winter in Minnesota. My creative soul needs to be fed. And THIS event was magically delicious. 

We checked in at a little tent, and were then led across a metal gangplank out to the Lock and Dam. That alone was cool, as I'd never been out on this structure in my life. We lined up and looked way down over the railing at the bottom of the Lock and nearly frozen river. All were dressed for the occasion, bundled up to our eyes to protect against the cold. One woman stood out in a beautifully embroidered long skirt, and I dearly hoped that she had long underwear on underneath (while also admiring her style).

We had the first time-slot and the sun had just set over the beautiful skyline of Minneapolis - one of the most beautiful cities in this country all on its own. But when the animation began to be projected on to the Lock wall, it was truly magical. A Native American woman narrated the story, as illustrations swooped along the concrete. Speaking to how difficult it is to retain the Native culture in the middle of a Metropolis, especially during this pandemic, that is hitting our Native citizens extra hard. I have a deep love for Native Americans, as well as a deep sense of shame for what has been done to their culture and their people by our Government since the very beginning. We owe them SO much, yet they continue to give us beauty and wisdom and dignity, and always remind us to connect with our beloved nature. Thank you. 

She instructed all to remember to offer your tobacco to Grandmother Moon and Grandfather Sun, and always to honor our nature. Seeing this spectacular spectacle in its bright colors and Native symbology among the skyscrapers and industrial areas of the city made it all the more moving, and nearly all jaws watching had dropped (also because someone dropped a thing for their camera over the edge).


The time slots were for 30 minutes, so they can get more people through and still be social distanced, and we timed our visit perfectly. We watched the story twice, and then they let you go around the top of the Lock and look at St. Anthony Falls from the other side, which was also very cool (by now, COLD). Thirty minutes was just perfect for both body and mind. My heart was more than full. 

My friend, Tracy, and I were totally enchanted as we made our way back across the slick metal catwalk (Use caution!). I was so proud of my Minnesotans, both for conceiving of and putting on such an event, but also for all the hearty souls who will bundle up and go do something fun and amazing on a weeknight in the city. I LOVED IT. I saw the woman with the beautiful skirt again, and had to go compliment her - and to find out if she had long undies on, because now I was worried. She laughed and thanked me, saying she had many layers underneath, including sweatpants. I'm totally going to copy her now. A long skirt as a mobile blanket is genius!
We capped off the night with a martini and wings at The Monte Carlo - where I hadn't been in well over a year and it was a delight. When I got home, I went to look up Moira Villiard on Instagram so I could tag her beautiful work in my photos of the evening. Guess what? She was the woman in the beautiful skirt. Perfect. 

Illuminate the Lock was one of the coolest and best things I've been to in quite a while. It is my pleasure to share it with you here, and my hope that you will be able to see it for yourselves if you can. If not, remember to offer your tobacco and to honor your Mother Earth every day! So that waves will always be able to be heard ... 

*Thank you to the Mississippi River Park Connection, to Moira Villiard and her skirt, All My Relations Arts Gallery, and to all who helped to put on this utterly charming event. Truly. 

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