The Native Voices Traveling Exhibit Stops at the Trickster Art Gallery

SCHAUMBURG, IL – The Native Voices traveling exhibition was hosted at the Trickster Art Gallery earlier this year. The 10,000-square-foot Trickster Art Gallery is about 20 miles from Chicago. Built in 2005, it is the only Native American owned and operated arts institution in Illinois.

Six men sit in a circle around a native drum. Three of the six are actively beating the drum. The main sign for the Native Voices exhibition is in the background.

Native drummers perform during the exhibition’s opening. Photo by Warren Perlstein.

“Trickster” in U.S. Indian culture means “culture educator.”

“Our gallery hosts all types of show and events,” said Joe Podlasek, Trickster’s director who is of Ojibwe and Polish descent. “We recently sponsored a blues concert and our gallery holds shows for other types of media, including music, sculpture, paintings and the spoken word, such as poetry readings and open mic nights,” Podlasek said.

The Trickster also is home to the Native Veterans of Illinois who have a role in playing the national anthem during some Chicago Blackhawks’ home games. A Native American veteran stands at attention during the playing of the national anthem holding an Eagle Feather Staff.

The Eagle Feather Staff honors Native American veterans and the feathers themselves are in memory of Natives who gave their lives. Eagle Feather Staffs only may be carried and handled by Native Veterans and always are the first flags in the procession at Chicago’s United Center.

Otherwise, approximately 11,000 individuals visit the Trickster each year. “We also have a very active outreach program,” Podlasek said, “and we estimate that we reach 40,000 people annually, through tourism, events, and outreach to high schools and colleges.”

More than 350 people attended the Native Voices traveling exhibition’s opening in January, including Martin R. Castro, the chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Some representatives of the tribal communities represented in the Native Voices traveling exhibition attended the opening, as well as diverse performers, musicians, and dancers.

Trickster estimates about 700 persons visited the Native Voices exhibition during its three month stay. A special tour also was held for the staff of nearby Alexian Brothers Rehabilitation Hospital. Visitors from the hospital as well as others remarked how much they appreciated seeing the blending of western medicine with Native methods.

“We not only had an opening for Native Voices at the Trickster Gallery, but we also took the banner exhibit to the Chicago Auto Show,” Podlasek said. “There were record numbers of visitors at the auto show, and about 3,000 people showed up at our table.

“We felt very honored to have the exhibit, “Podlasek said. “Kids loved the technological (iPads) aspects, and our community liked the educational aspect of the exhibit.”

The Trickster hosted the National Library of Medicine’s Native Voices traveling exhibition as well as NLM’s healing totem pole when it made its journey across the United States in 2011.

By Judy Folkenberg

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