A Google search for “Mona Smith, artist” will return a wealth of links to her multi-media creations. During a recent Forecast-sponsored presentation held at the McKnight Foundation, Smith, a Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota, showed her audience a few examples of these works: layers of sound and image and language, delicately woven into films and websites and installations.

The rest of her presentation brought to life a side of her work not easily seen online: the less visual, but equally carefully curated work of creating healing relationships.

Smith’s belief in the power of relationships to heal is born of the Dakota notion of Mitakuye Owasi (all my relations). Mitakuye Owasi does not just reference relations between native people, or across races but an understanding of the interconnectivity among all things.

Her belief in the spirit of Mitakuye Owasi is personified by her role as Lead Artist of the Healing Places Collaborative. The collaborative uses the Mississippi River as a site around which to organize healing practices and healing relationships between people and the landscape. The work also brings awareness to the presence of native people and native history of the landscape; a history and a people so often overlooked, and creates space for us all to begin to heal together.

Smith lays no claim to being an expert on how to heal, but she is building a healing movement and invites all to join.

You can learn more and sign up to join Smith on a tour (http://www.minnesotahumanities.org/bdotefieldtrip), or begin to do your part by making your way down to the river:

“Spend some time.
Feel.
Let your heart speak to you.
Let the place speak to you.
Listen.
See what happens.”

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Special thanks to McKnight Foundation for helping make this event possible.