EXHIBITS & EVENTS Exhibits Details
Indigenous Futurity

Indigenous Futurity

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Location: CSWS Stairwell

In May 2023, curatorial fellow Elise Boulanger (Osage Nation) co-taught a Maymester EXCEL course with internationally renowned artist Nanibah Chacon (Diné, Chicana) at the Center of Southwest Studies. Fort Lewis College’s Maymester offerings are designed to promote experiential and community-engaged learning, involving students in direct experience and reflection to connect theories and knowledge from the classroom to real-world applications. Students participating in this Maymester course designed and painted a mural informed by research conducted in the Center’s museum collections and conversations about cultural celebration and belonging, thoughtful representations of non-dominant cultural values and worldviews, and connection to land. The mural, which embraces Traditional Cultural Knowledge, references a Navajo sampler-style textile and incorporates historical and contemporary weavings from the Center of Southwest Studies’ Durango Collection® of Southwest textiles, sash belts from the collaborating artists’ communities, and other Center collections items.

A special thanks to the Mellon Foundation, the Women and Girls of Color Fund, Pendleton Woolen Mills, and the Office of Academic Affairs at Fort Lewis College for making this mural possible.



Indigenous Futurity, 2023

Here we offer a glimpse of Indigenous futurity, where we envision a sense of belonging rooted in traditional knowledge and intertribal values. One thing we all agree upon is the sacredness of this land and the spirituality we feel through its many teachings. For students who will continue to flourish here and make an impact on their home communities, we have acted to reclaim space where the wisdoms Native to this land are welcomed, shared, and known.

There is a duality in life that is represented through the design choices in this piece, which lend space to represent and transform different moments in time. We acknowledge Indigenous existence through our depiction of Hesperus, a significant sacred mountain and source of power near our campus. Throughout the mural, symbolism, color, and imagery reflect the mountain’s teachings and coincide with our conception of the intertwined values of this project, which for us provided motivation and encouragement.


Nanibah Chacon (Diné & Chicana), Lead Artist and Co-Facilitator

Elise Boulanger (Osage Nation), Curatorial Fellow and Co-Facilitator, FLC Studio Art, Anthropology and Art History minors ‘21


Collaborating Artists:

Shenay Atene (Diné), FLC Psychology, Native American & Indigenous Studies minor, Gerontology Certificate ‘24

Jakob Barlow (Diné), FLC Journalism & Multimedia Studies, Native American & Indigenous Studies minor ‘24

Taelor Goldtooth (Diné), FLC Environmental Science ‘26

Naomi Gray (Osage Nation), FLC English, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages minor ‘25

Malorie King (Mescalero Apache & Diné), FLC Native American & Indigenous Studies, Heritage Preservation minor ‘23

Z. Wilbanks (Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin & Oneida Nation of Wisconsin), FLC Political Science, Native American & Indigenous Studies and Environmental Policy minors ‘23


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