The multimedia exhibition Cherry River, Where the Rivers Mix was presented to audiences in August 2018 at the Missouri Headwaters State Park in Three Forks, Montana. Long before the European invasion across the Atlantic, the headwaters, or the confluence of three forks of the Missouri River, was a crossroads for Northern Plains Indians. The place-based project, Cherry River, created by artist Mary Ellen Strom and Native American researcher Shane Doyle, was produced by Mountain Time Arts, a collaborative arts and culture organization in southwestern Montana. In an effort to analyze the site, Mountain Time Arts convened a diverse group of participants. Their research question became, What does it take to change the name of a river? After six months of research, the project centered on the act of changing the name of the East Gallatin River back to the Indigenous Crow name Cherry River. The name Cherry River honors and describes the numerous chokecherry trees growing on the river’s banks that provide sustenance for wildlife and venerates Indigenous history, the ecology of running water, and riparian systems in the Northwest. The rise of interest in the rights of Indigenous people in North America aligns with many of Okwui Enwezor’s groundbreaking initiatives around the world. This assemblage of images, poetry, and first-person narratives is an example of the kind of practice in dialogue with the legacy of Enwezor’s decolonial actions and innovative use of curatorial strategies in several groundbreaking exhibitions to confront the “complex predicaments of contemporary art in a time of profound historical change and global transformation.” While Enwezor was neither an explicit source of inspiration nor invoked for the Cherry River project, the futures of Enwezor are palpable in this anticolonial project restoring the past to reimagine the present.
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May 1, 2021
Research Article| May 01 2021
Cherry River: Where the Rivers Mix
Mary Ellen Strom;
Nka (2021) 2021 (48): 112–130.
Mary Ellen Strom, Shane Doyle; Cherry River: Where the Rivers Mix. Nka 1 May 2021; 2021 (48): 112–130. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-8971342
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