DULUTH, Minn. – On Saturday, September 23 the American Indian Community Housing Organization will unveil a vibrant new mural on its new Dr. Robert Powless Community Center in downtown Duluth.

The as-yet-untitled work, painted by Los Angeles-based Votan Ik (Mayan) with assistants Derek Brown (Diné) and Leah Lewis (Pueblo), was completed in collaboration with the Native environmental-advocacy organization Honor the Earth, and with the help of more than 40 community members, including AICHO staffer Cheryl Stone.

Funded in part through a grant the AICHO received from Enterprise Community Partners, the mural depicts an Ojibwe woman wearing a traditional jingle dress, with a colorful bandana over her mouth. She is simultaneously a “water protector” (Dakota Access pipeline protesters wore bandanas against tear gas), a symbol of the plight of missing, murdered, and abused Native American women, and a reminder that indigenous voices often go unheard. The image acts as a peaceful protest, delivering a powerful message in favor of renewable energy, education, and gender equity.

The figure is intended to refer to the general silencing of women as well, particularly in the current political climate. “We felt that women have been or were disrespected by the commander-in-chief, the person who is supposed to represent the country and the people,” Ik says, “so we felt like we also needed to address that.”

The image also evokes the face-covering bandanas worn by members of the Mexican Zapatista movement, which opposes globalization’s threats to indigenous community land rights and seeks collective change.

The AICHO Mural Unveiling Ceremony will be held on Saturday, September 23 at 6pm at 212 West 2nd Street, Duluth, MN. $10 suggested donation.

Look for the mural in the forthcoming 2018 special edition of Public Art Review. Subscribe at www.publicartreview.org.