Land Defender Elder

Exterior Paint
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The face of a North American Indigenous woman with wrinkles around her eyes and sun and moon earrings hanging from her ears. The braids from her head frame the side profile of the moose and buffalo faces on either side of her. Other animals swim and dance and stand above her, a beaver, a muskrat, a butterfly, a frog, a dragonfly, fish, an otter, a bear, and a turtle. Atop the turtle shell is a small forest and Ojibwe style florals of wild rose and wildflowers are in the top corners of the artwork.
This image shows the artist's submission.  Photos of the final artwork will be posted when the artist has finished installing their work.

About This Installation

The viewing of Jamie’s work begins with the understanding that we do not live in a post-colonial society and the Indian Wars never ended. Everyday acts of settler colonial violence such as displacement, police brutality, and land desecration, provide a window into the injustices suffered by our ancestors. Intertwining personal narrative with historical memory and cultural loss allows the work to speak to what it means to be Indigenous, what it means to honor our history, and what our history can tell us about our future.

Jamie’s cultural and familial background gives a profound sense of kinship and belonging as well as what it means to connect to the land, ceremony, language, and others. The responsibilities they have to their community, kin, and culture are a mindset that extends throughout their body of work.

With works tackling topics of imperialism, colonial genocide, and historical loss, Jamie attempts to pull the thread of resistance to these atrocities through cultural connection and emphasizing collective survival. Making art about being queer, trans, and 2-spirit gives way to visualize the complexities in ideas such as truth and reconciliation for Indigenous communities and what living in the colonial present means. This public work is meant to not only affirm that Anishinaabe people are still living here in our homelands, that we have always been here, that we will continue to be here and we are making demands about what the futures of our nations look like.

This ArtPath location is made possible in part by generous contributions from
Norm Charles

Find on the Trail

Side of the Shiawassee Bridge, West Side

We crossed the river again this year and continued to extend ArtPath on the West side of the Grand River. This mural site is on the side of the Shiawassee Bridge and it is a short walking distance from the beautifully restored 1930's power plant which is now home to the AF group.


About The Artist

Jamie John
Traverse City
, MI

Jamie John is a queer trans two-spirit Anishinaabe and Korean-American multi-disciplinary artist and writer living and working on their ancestral homeland of so-called Michigan. They are a dually enrolled tribal citizen of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and the United States of America. With very little connection to their Korean heritage and being raised alongside their adopted Olmec/Nahuatl family, much of early life was full of cultural richness and contrasts. Art has been used as a tool to carve out a space for Jamie and others like them despite the impact of colonialism, intergenerational traumas, and gender violence. Jamie John was educated and graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy as an Interdisciplinary Arts major. Jamie John is a powwow dancer, water carrier, and filmmaker who draws inspiration from lived experience, Indigenous storytelling, history, and relationships.

Contact This artist