“The Rights of Manoomin” keynote address at the 10th Annual Dr. Carlos Montezuma Honorary Lecture & Awards

Pictured: The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian.(Photo: Mitchell Museum of the American Indian)

Event part of Mitchell Museum of the American Indian's Native American Heritage Month celebrations, takes place November 2

News Release

Mitchell Museum of the American Indian

The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is pleased to announce attorney Frank Bibeau (White Earth Ojibwe) will be the keynote speaker and receive the event’s namesake award, at the tenth annual Dr. Carlos Montezuma Honorary Lecture & Awards sponsored by Northwestern University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The keynote address is titled “The Rights of Manoomin” and describes his innovative legal approach to give personage to wild rice. The event also honors Michael Roberts, Tlingit, for his service and philanthropy with the Elizabeth Seabury Mitchell Award, and chilkat weaver, Tsamiinbann (William White), Tsimshian Nation, recipient of the Woodrow “Woody” Crumbo Award for Native arts and education.

The event, which honors members of the American Indian community who have raised awareness and contributed to the community in the same spirit as Dr. Montezuma, will be held on Saturday, November 2, at the Mitchell Museum’s 3009 Central Street building in Evanston. The Awards Ceremony and Lecture begins at 4:30 with a reception concluding the event. The fee for the lecture is $20 for museum members/ $18 for non-members. Tribal members are free.

The Dr. Carlos Montezuma Honorary Award is given for a distinguished speaker whose contributions in social activism advanced Native peoples on a national scale. The award namesake, Dr. Montezuma, was a Chicago physician and Native American activist who was one of the founding members of the Society of American Indians and ardent advocate for the voting rights for Native peoples. This year’s awardee is Frank Bibeau.

Frank is an attorney and treaty rights activist enrolled at White Earth Chippewa Reservation in Minnesota. His work has been praised by the Minnesota Lawyer for his work on Operation Squarehook (U.S. v Brown) protecting fishing rights under the Chippewa treaty rights. He works with Honor the Earth, a native-led nonprofit environmental group working to stop the Enbridge 3 oil pipeline passing thru Minnesota. He also worked with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (celdf.org) to develop the Rights of Manoomin.

Frank explains in his talk: “The Rights of Manoomin is a codification of ancient law using present day tribal laws, which are in turn protected by federal laws and treaties between the Chippewa and United States. Protecting Manoomin necessarily requires protecting our Chippewa priority, water quality property rights to clean, fresh water, throughout the upper 250 miles of interconnected watershed resources of the Headwaters of the Mississippi, its tributaries, wetlands, rivers, lakes and aquifers. This tribal, Rights of Nature legal protection strategy is necessary because according to Minnesota Public Radio, ‘Climate change affects lakes (and) walleye in complex ways’ and Minnesota’s ‘scientists don’t know exactly how big a role climate change is playing in the Mille Lacs walleye situation. But one of the many factors that will continue to be a part of the equation – for every fish species in every lake in every state.’”

The Elizabeth Seabury Mitchell Award is given for exemplary service and philanthropic giving in promoting American Indian culture. Mrs. Mitchell gave generously to many native organizations throughout her life, including co-founding the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian. The 2019 recipient of her namesake award Michael Roberts, Tlingit, for his service and philanthropy in Native communities. Michael is the President and CEO of the First Nations Development Institute and is chairman of the Board of First Nations Oweesta Corporation. He was recently named a 2019-2020 fellow in the “Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change Fellowship” program of Neighborhood Funders Ground and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions.

The Woodrow “Woody” Crumbo Award is given for exceptional contributions in the development and preservation of American Indian art. Woody Crumbo spent six decades of the mid-20th century promoting Native American art. He participated in hundreds of exhibits, painted murals inside the US Department of Interior, and had hundreds of his pieces acquired by museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian. The 2018 recipient is Tsamiinbann, also known as Willy White, a chilkat weaver of the Tsimshian nation. Willy uses his art, knowledge, and the history woven into his pieces to teach everyone from fellow tribal people to children in museums. His 30+ year mission has expanded the number of chilkat weavers and saved this distinctly Indigenous artform from disappearing. Documentary filmmaker, Judy Hoffman, will accept the award on behalf of Tsamiinbann.

The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is one of only a handful of museums in the country that focuses exclusively on the art, history, and culture of American Indian and First Nation peoples throughout the United States and Canada. In 2017, the Mitchell Museum won the Illinois Association of Museums’ Superior Award for Exhibits. The museum’s latest exhibit “Stunning Stories in Native American Jewelry” features over 150 exquisite objects conveying facets of tribal culture.

Other Native American Heritage Month programs include the First Nation Film and Video Festival on November 7, 6:00 – 7:30 pm (free admission) and two Thanksgiving programs “Re-Indigenizing Native Palettes” led by Ernest Whiteman III (Northern Arapaho) held Friday, November 29, 2:30- 3:15 pm and Sunday, December 1, 2:30- 3:15 pm ($5 admission). November’s Weekend Crafts & Stories features Native American Housing and is held every Saturday 11:00 am to noon and Sunday 12:30 – 1:30 pm. Finally, December 7-8 is the museum’s annual Native American Fine Arts Holiday Market featuring artists from throughout the US demonstrating and selling their artwork. There is a Preview Party on December 6th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

For more information about these programs and the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, visit www.mitchellmuseum.org or call 847-475-1030. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, students and children, and Free for Mitchell Museum members and Tribal members.

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