Standing Rock’s “Not Afraid to Look” replica sculpture is coming to Park Rapids

May 18, 2024

Giiwedinong Treaty Rights & Culture Museum in Park Rapids announces a new sculpture soon to be unveiled.

On Thursday, May 16, the sculpture, “Not Afraid to Look,” will finish a 1,250-mile journey to its new home when it is installed at the intersection of 101 2nd St. West and Highway 71, near the Giiwedinong Museum in downtown Park Rapids.

Join Charles Rencountre and a team in celebrating this art installation with the Park Rapids Arts and Culture Advisory Commission, the City of Park Rapids and surrounding communities Saturday, May 18. The commission will celebrate the opening of the Park Rapids Sculpture Trail at 10:30 a.m. in Red Bridge Park. Afterward all are invited to the Giiwedinong Museum where there will be a traditional drum group honor song, booths displaying Native American artisans and more ways to celebrate from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You can either come in person or become a sponsor of “Not Afraid to Look.

The museum showcases diverse exhibits, including historical and modern treaties, cultural art, and insights into the Anishinaabe way of life. The museum also proudly presents prominent displays highlighting the Water Protector Movement. Indeed, the Water Protector Movement emerged in northern Minnesota and at Standing Rock during conflicts between Native people and the Energy Transfer Partners and Enbridge Oil pipelines.

What is “Not Afraid to Look?”

“Not Afraid to Look” is a sculpture erected at the Sacred Stone Camp on the Missouri River during the Standing Rock resistance gathering. The original 18-foot sculpture emerged from an “effigy pipe,” originally carved and used at the end of the 17th century.

Charles Rencountre, a well-established Lakota sculptor, began his work with a series of these pipes and then adapted “Not Afraid to Look” into a large sculpture first installed at the Santa Fe Institute for American Indian Arts. Then, during the NO DAPL protests, Rencountre erected a second 18-foot sculpture at Sacred Stone Camp in Standing Rock, which remains the only physical evidence left after the10-month gathering of the Water Protectors, symbolizing for many the emergence of the Water Protector Movement.

The sculptor explains why the sculpture was created: “When I think of the time I lived at the Oceti Sakowin and the Sacred Stone resistance camps at Standing Rock in 2016, I am reminded of all the Water Protectors from all the nations of the world converging to make peaceful prayers for the water. A Wicasa Wakan once shared with us in an Inipi ceremony as he was dipping a buffalo horn cap into the water and pouring it over the Grandfathers (tukans) that when we return to the spirit world we are all the same color as the water.”

Art transforms the world we understand. “Not Afraid to Look” inspires change and represents generations of courage – we are not afraid to look. By shedding light on uncomfortable truths and encouraging honest conversations, this piece serves as a catalyst for positive transformation and healing. Its impact extends far beyond its initial creation, making it a powerful messenger of social change.

The Park Rapids Arts and Culture Commission is pleased to partner with the Giiwedinong Museum to celebrate and honor the creative work of sculptors participating in this year’s Sculpture Trail.

Paul Albright, sculptor and commission member, described “Not Afraid to Look” as “a powerful sculpture that sits firmly grounded in message and physical beauty.”

Giiwedinong Board Chair Don Wedll, a treaty rights historian focused primarily on the 1837 Treaty with the Anishinaabe, reminds us that “treaties are the law of the land, and a better understanding of the law and intent of the Anishinaabe people will help us create a more just and ecologically balanced way of life. We want people to recognize the courage of people to protect the water against polluters and also hope that awareness of these issues sparks more action to protect the water.”

The museum is dedicated to documenting not only the history of treaties and the Water Protector Movement but also a wide range of social movements, such as civil rights and environmental activism.

For more information, go to https://giiwedinong.org/.