During the opening reception for Ojibwe Public Art, Ostrom Private Lives held on January 31, 2014, Crystal Migwans (Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation) gave a talk on "Spirit Island Renaissance: Ojibwe Artists, White Patrons, and the Manitoulin Cultural Revival." The following is excerpted from her talk:
"The precept of Economy is all about roadkill. Specifically, it’s about pride in making beautiful objects from what you’ve got, it’s making objects for sale with a quick turnover, and making them saleable. For the Eshkawkogans’ work, this is the main area where cultural negotiation takes place. They see the white market for their baskets as a way of supporting the continuation of their traditional culture. They consciously acknowledge the colonial eye, but to them, it is they who put white money to use.
Roadkill is something all quillworkers have a wry sense of humor about. They like to be humble and tell stories. Many quillworkers have told me about growing up with a quillworker mother or father, and how mortified they would be when Mom would be driving along, and stop to pick up a dead porcupine! 'Mom! Don’t pick up roadkill!' But Mom, that practical Anishinaabe-kwe, would just toss it in the back and drive right along, saying 'Kids, that’s money on the road!'
That’s economy. That’s Anishinaabe pragmatism: making something vital from the dead and discarded."
Migwans is a recent graduate of Carleton University and currently a PhD student in Art History at Columbia University. Her research explores the traditional arts of the Anishinaabeg within the context of the colonization and resistance.