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MSU Museum celebrates the work of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Image featuring beadwork from the Kindred exhibition at MSU Museum.
Michigan State Museum

A new Michigan State University Museum exhibition showcases art created by members of the Waganakising Odawa, known today as the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

The exhibit called “Kindred”features Odawa arts and crafts. That includes ceramics, basketry and beadwork.

Liz Erlewine, one of the exhibit’s co-curators, says each piece helps tell the history of one of the original peoples of Michigan.

“So, the exhibit is also a story of that perseverance and preservation of those practices for people who quite honestly faced a huge number of challenges in keeping these practices and traditions alive," she said.

Erlewine says the exhibit includes contemporary pieces as well as pieces from MSU's collection.

"I think sometimes when we hear the word traditional, we think about really old things," Erlewine added. "These are not necessarily that old, but they're old methods, right? And they're a look at traditional practices as they've carried through over the years."

The exhibit also includes works by acclaimed basket maker and porcupine quillworker Yvonne Walker Keshick.

Her work features nature, animals and cultural symbols of the Odawa tribe. Keshick is a descendent from a long line of Odawa quillworkers.

"Her skill and craft in rendering these beautiful and intricate designs with natural materials really is second to none," explained Erlewine.

Erlewine says the history of Native Americans tends to be overlooked and this exhibit is an opportunity to take a closer look at how influential this community has been.

"I hope that visitors walk away with knowing that there is so much phenomenal artwork and creativity and such a dynamic native community here in Michigan," she said.

The exhibition is on display in the museum’s main gallery until the end of July.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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