Native Boys & Girls Clubs come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and cultural landscapes. Clubs do their best to create an environment that reflects the heritage of the children and families they serve. By doing so, they give children the opportunity to identify with their shared space, and ideally, take ownership of it.
The Boys & Girls Club of Bay Mills has gone a step farther by enlisting the efforts of their youth in order to create murals that reflect the Native heritage of the youth members. Lindsey Hill, who started experimenting with her artwork a few years ago, has been completing art projects for the Club since she was 11 years old. With aspirations to create images that promote Native identity in the Club, Lindsey designed a mural of dancing silhouettes to honor the musical traditions of Native people. The image pays homage to the importance of dancing in the local Native culture and serves as a reminder to youth of their past.
Luckily for the Boys & Girls Club of Bay Mills, the Club isn’t host to just one artistic talent. Another Club youth, Kalista Perron, was recently accepted into a summer art program at the University of California. To help cover the expenses of the art program, the Club hosted a fundraiser to raise money for the young artist to fly out to California this summer and participate. To express her gratitude, Kalista painted a large mural in the Club’s hallway, portraying a large gathering of Native women surrounded by animals that represent the clans of the Anishnaabe people. Also included in the mural is a medicine wheel composed of colors specifically chosen to represent ancestral teachings.
“Native families have been very excited about the artwork’s cultural relevance,” explains the Club’s Assistant Director, Candice LeBlanc. “The murals have connected youth to their cultural heritage and afforded them the opportunity to take ownership of their safe space.” According to LeBlanc, the murals have ignited a passion amongst the Club’s youth as everyone wants to leave their mark on the organization. Now, the trouble is finding enough space on their walls.