The Walking Together Traveling Exhibit Debuts Years of Work and Research at the KBIC Winter Pow-Wow

During the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s Traditional Winter Pow-Wow the Walking Together Finding Common Ground Traveling Exhibit debuted years of tracking down survivors for interviews and research into how the program impacted communities. The Walking Together Traveling Exhibit shares some of the local history Native American tribes endured during the United States Federal Indian Boarding School Program that lasted from 1819 to 1969. In 1891 Congress began the process of building its first school in the state purchasing land in Mount Pleasant. Of the five schools located in Michigan, two were located in the Upper Peninsula in Schoolcraft and Baraga counties.

If they wore traditional clothing, that was taken away. And that’s right when the schools started in the Michigan area. But our project covers today. Some of these people are younger than my parents. So at that time, they were speaking English and wearing modern clothes. But there was still culture there and still the basic assimilation. You need to not be native anymore.” – Mitch Bolo, Videographer, Walking Together Finding Common Ground Traveling Exhibit Project

One of the project’s goals is to heal generational traumas within the Anishinaabe community. By recording audio and video interviews with living survivors the project offers an insight into what occurred at these schools. As well as documents how the program affected people throughout their lives.

“So one of the biggest reasons that we wanted to do this project and also make the traveling exhibit about the apology and the interviews is because this stuff isn’t taught in your regular schools. Intergenerational trauma and intergenerational memory are something that affects us whether we’ve learned about it or not. So to do this project and let people know that this happened and to let them kind of discover what their family went through, it does help to sort of heal through generations.” – Mitch Bolo, Videographer, Walking Together Finding Common Ground Traveling Exhibit Project

Several years ago the Great Lakes Peace Center and the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan received grant funds to develop the Walking Together Finding Common Ground project. On Friday night before KBIC’s Winter Pow-Wow, the group was able to host a debut with survivors in attendance.

“So the original grant was written by the Great Lakes Peace Center years ago, but we’ve been filming for about two years now, so to see it up like this is amazing. We were able to meet with a bunch of survivors last night for a panel presentation, and it was a really good way for it to have almost a homecoming event.” – Leora Tadgerson, Creative Director, Walking Together Finding Common Ground Traveling Exhibit

Another aspect of the project offers education about the United States’ involvement in the genocidal treatment of Native Americans. The powerful exhibit’s insights into the lives of survivors offer an educational experience that can’t be found in a textbook.

“Part of the work that we’ve been doing is to heal and to reconcile and the healing is for the Anishinaabe people but also us as we relearn who owns this land. And also talks about the assimilation and the genocide that we participated in as white people here in the United States and in many other parts of the world so there’s been a reawakening up for us and we’re just at the beginning of the healing process and uh… and our partnership with many indigenous tribal nations as we come together for the eighth fire uh… to part of the one with each other” – Reverend Rayford Ray, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan

The Walking Together traveling exhibit was only available this weekend during the KBIC Powwow. During the event, Reverend Rayord Ray and Leora Tadgerson shared with the community about the project and asked survivors in attendance to stand. Those interested in connecting with Walking Together to bring the traveling exhibit to town should contact organizers via email;

Interested to learn more about the project or view survivor interviews can find more information at Or find more more on the project’s facebook page here.