Mark Wilson

Environmental Artist Fellowship

An Anishinaabek Tribute to Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Ode'min, Miinan, Zhoomin/Shomin

These three beautiful carvings celebrate the profound connection between the Anishinaabek people and the natural world. Crafted with deep respect for tradition, it conveys the importance of preserving traditional ecological knowledge. 

Carved by Fred Raphael | 2023

On display at the SEEDS Farm at Historic Barns Park.

Honoring Generations of Wisdom through Art and Story

Listen to the audio below to listen to audio stories passed down by Anishinaabek elders and protected by traditional knowledge keepers. These stories reveal the wisdom and insights of our ancestors, providing valuable lessons about sustainable living and harmonious coexistence with the environment.

Stories shared by Biindige Giizhik | 2023

Artist Bios

Mark Wilson

Mark L. Wilson is a visionary multimedia artist whose creative journey is deeply rooted in his heritage as a proud member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. With an unwavering commitment to preserving and sharing indigenous knowledge, Mark has emerged as a cultural ambassador, unifying artists, storytellers, and knowledge keepers through his transformative work. Mark’s artistic odyssey is guided by a profound passion for storytelling and an innate ability to blend diverse forms of artistic expression. His unique approach transcends traditional boundaries, fusing traditional wisdom with modern technology to craft immersive multimedia experiences that resonate with audiences on profound and meaningful levels. At the heart of Mark’s artistic mission is the creation of captivating installations that celebrate indigenous knowledge and culture. These installations serve as powerful conduits for conveying the rich tapestry of his heritage, weaving together the threads of art and digital media to foster understanding and appreciation. Mark’s visionary artistry serves as a bridge, connecting communities and preserving ancestral wisdom for generations to come. Through his collaborative endeavors, Mark has orchestrated the convergence of artists and storytellers, allowing them to breathe life into history and tradition through multimedia presentations and exhibits. His work is a testament to the power of creativity as a force for cultural preservation, dialogue, and unity. Mark L. Wilson’s legacy is one of boundless creativity, cultural stewardship, and an unwavering commitment to dismantling cultural divides. He stands as a shining example of an artist whose work transcends aesthetics, illuminating the path towards deeper cultural understanding and harmonious coexistence. With every project, Mark continues to inspire and connect, ensuring that the vibrant tapestry of indigenous knowledge remains vibrant and relevant in our ever-evolving world.

Fred Raphael

Fred Raphael, a proud member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, has dedicated his life to preserving and celebrating the rich traditions and heritage of his people. Born and raised in the heart of indigenous culture, Fred’s journey has been one of artistic expression, mentorship, and community building. Growing up on the powwow trail, Fred was immersed in the vibrant tapestry of his Native American heritage from a young age. He was fortunate to have several mentors who played pivotal roles in shaping his multifaceted talents. Under their guidance, he honed his skills in singing, dancing, painting, carving, and sculpting. These mentors not only passed down their artistic knowledge but also instilled in him a deep appreciation for the cultural significance of each art form. Fred’s passion for art and culture led him to become a prolific artist and performer. His intricate paintings, intricate carvings, and expressive sculptures are a testament to his commitment to preserving and perpetuating the stories and traditions of his people. Through his art, Fred has been able to bridge the gap between generations, ensuring that the ancestral knowledge is not lost but passed on to future generations. Beyond his artistic endeavors, Fred has also been a dedicated community member. He has been actively involved in initiatives aimed at promoting the well-being and prosperity of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. His commitment to his community extends to his family life as well, as he raised his own family on the GTB reservation in Peshawbestown, Michigan, imparting the values of cultural pride and respect for tradition to the next generation. Fred Raphael’s journey is a testament to the resilience and strength of indigenous cultures in the face of challenges. Through his art and his commitment to his community, he has become a guardian of his people’s heritage and a source of inspiration for those who seek to preserve and celebrate the rich tapestry of Native American traditions. His story is a reminder of the importance of passing down cultural knowledge and ensuring that it thrives for generations to come.

Biindigegizhig, or Daniel Deleary

Biindigegizhig, also known as Daniel Deleary, is a remarkable individual with deep-rooted connections to the Anishinabe culture. He hails from the Walpole Island First Nation and proudly identifies as Ojibway, Potawatomi, and Algonquin, belonging to the esteemed Loon Clan. Biindigegizhig’s spiritual journey and commitment to preserving Anishinabe ways of life have made him a recognized leader within the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge, holding the esteemed rank of 3rd Degree Mide person. From the moment of his birth, Biindigegizhig has been immersed in the learning and understanding of Anishinabe spiritual and cultural practices. His life’s mission is dedicated to the rejuvenation of these ancient traditions and ensuring their continuity for future generations. He is highly regarded by Anishinabek communities across Canada and the United States as a spiritual and cultural knowledge practitioner. In addition to his spiritual leadership, Biindigegizhig has made it his life’s work to improve the lives of Indigenous peoples in numerous ways. Notably, he is passionate about empowering Indigenous youth to pursue successful careers in the skilled trades, contributing to their self-sufficiency and the prosperity of their communities. Biindigegizhig’s diverse knowledge and profound insights are a valuable asset to the First Nations youth STEM Summit, where he shares his wisdom and experiences to inspire and educate the next generation. His virtual speaking engagements at various events highlight the importance of preserving Indigenous knowledge and traditions while embracing the opportunities of the modern world. One of Biindigegizhig’s recent initiatives includes his involvement in organizing a peaceful protest aimed at raising awareness about environmental issues, particularly those impacting his community and neighboring areas, such as Walpole Island. The protest, driven by a commitment to environmental protection and solidarity among First Nations communities and their neighbors, addresses longstanding challenges caused by spills in the St. Clair River. These environmental incidents, including recent spills, have spurred Biindigegizhig and his fellow organizers into action. They firmly believe that their voices and those of their community must be heard to prevent further harm to their environment. Beyond just their own communities, the protest also seeks to build partnerships with neighboring communities, emphasizing the shared responsibility for the protection of water and the environment. Biindigegizhig, or Danny Deleary, underscores the universality of this cause, emphasizing that regardless of differences in skin color, religious background, or any other distinctions, all people share a vested interest in safeguarding the environment for the sake of future generations. His tireless dedication to the preservation of Anishinabe culture and the protection of the environment serves as an inspiration and a call to action for all who share in this common purpose.

This project was made possible by the Michigan Arts & Culture Council.