The Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University will host a free opening reception for its new installation, “The Seventh Fire: A Decolonizing Experience,” at noon Saturday, Oct. 9, in its gallery in Gries Hall. The multimedia exhibit experience is funded in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It will be on display through April 9.
The title, “The Seventh Fire,” comes from the Seven Fires Prophecies which were given to the Anishinaabe people more than 1,500 years ago while they still lived in what are now the Maritime Provinces of Canada. These prophecies foretold the catastrophic events that would befall their people over the next several centuries, predicting the arrival of Europeans and the impacts this would have on their way-of-life and spirituality. These include their migration to the Upper Great Lakes, the loss of their ancestral lands, and even the boarding schools their children would be sent to in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The last of these prophecies, The Seventh Fire, promises that there will be a rebirth of the Anishinaabe nation and a rekindling of the Sacred Flame (their spirituality and traditions). The “Seventh Fire” exhibit seeks to define and place decolonizing in the context of contemporary Anishinaabe life while inviting audiences to expand their knowledge of the gifts decolonizing brings to modern society today.
Using videos featuring interviews with tribal elders, Anishinaabe historians and scholars, students and faculty, this installation will show the many different perspectives on decolonization and Anishinaabe culture, including language, foodways, education, sovereignty and the challenges of living in a colonized world. There will also be a timeline of the history of the Anishinaabe people and a gathering “fire” space, where visitors can sit and discuss the issues brought up by the installation.
“The Seventh Fire” was developed over several months by a dedicated committee of individuals from the Beaumier Center, Center for Native American Studies and the Native American Student Association at NMU, the Great Lakes Peace Center, and the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan.
The Beaumier Center's hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is free.
A traveling version of “The Seventh Fire” exhibition will be available to organizations across the Upper Peninsula beginning in the Spring of 2022. For more information on “The Seventh Fire,” please contact the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center at 906-227-3212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the Center's website at www.nmu.edu/beaumier.