project leader
Moira V
N 2nd Ave E & East Michigan Street
(Downtown Duluth)
latest update rss
ARAC Funding

the project

NOTE: Due to COVID-19 we have escheduled this project and the community painting sessions for Spring of 2021. Please stay safe!

Moira Villiard is collaboratively designing an immersive series of murals that will outline the contemporary and past history of Indigenous people in Duluth, MN.

The murals will exist in a large maze of walls near the lakewalk that connect the newly renamed Gitchi Ode Akiing Park and Downtown Duluth with the lower Canal Park tourism peninsula through a series of ramps and staircases. The murals focus on the journey of Chief Buffalo, a history inaccessible through both art and public space in Duluth. The murals will also feature contemporary imagery of Native people and our existence and connection to the land today.

Villiard, in partnership with the Duluth Indigenous Commission, the Buffalo family, and Zeitgeist Center for the Arts, launched a pilot project in the Summer of 2019 to paint 3 of the 12+ walls in a single day-long event, which was preceded by a ceremony that brought over a hundred native people to the space to bless the project. As the lead artist, Villiard is recruiting other emerging Indigenous artists to assist her in designing the various walls and then we will host public events where everyone is welcome to help us fill in the designs.


"The treaty was not a grant of rights to the Indians, but a grant of rights from them -- a reservation of those not granted." US v. Winans (1905)

For more information on treaties and the story of Chief Buffalo, check out the following links:

the steps

January - April 2021: 

  • Meeting with the Buffalo Family and community members to coordinate plan for the walls

  • Research plaques and historic marker options

  • Draft designs

  • Confirm assistant artists and photo references

  • Meet with remaining appropriate city parties

May - June 2021: 

  • Awareness events in the park in collaboration with Duluth Indigenous Commission

  • Research creative ways to reintroduce sweetgrass and Indigenous plant-life into the space and to include other historic markers 

June - August 2021: 

  • Mural painting sessions in conjunction with park activities. 

August - October 2021: 

  • Installation of plaques and any other place markers. 

why we're doing it

Duluth, as an “artsy” city, has thus far failed to implement public art depicting Native people in any capacity outside of a few early non-Native artists creating inaccurate depictions of what they thought pre-1900 Ojibwe would look like. The transformation of this public space is going to change this forever.

We are currently working with the oldest descendents of Chief Buffalo (Henry Jr. and Bob, the hereditary chief) to piece together information on the Treaty of 1854, which is the reason anyone was allowed to immigrate to our region of Minnesota - it is also, in a bittersweet way, the reason that the Anishinaabe people were not pushed further West after the Ojibwe Trail of Tears (Sandy Lake Tragedy). The mural maze not only beautifies this underused public space, but will finally make visible and honest community-designed depiction of the Indigenous history in the region. It will also call attention to the potential of creative placemaking as a whole, which is a movement that is amazing but sometimes veers too much into the mentality that places need to be “made” and don’t already hold stories and cultures that have “made” them already.


$10,000 Artist Stipends

$2,000 Art Supplies - paints, brushes, cleaning supplies, tarps, rollers, graffiti protection, etc. 

$4,000 Plaques and commemorative markers with written histories for each mural - installation, design, and materials to make, as well as maintenance.

$5,000 Event budgets for community gatherings, food, celebration during mural painting

$3,000 Stipends for volunteer organizers and speakers

$1,000 Photo references for murals

$6,000 Zeitgeist resources and staffing, insurance costs and incidentals

ioby Platform Fee $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $960
TOTAL TO RAISE = $31,995


ARAC Funding

We are grateful to the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council for selecting this project for $4,000 in funding as well - we will update the fundraiser to reflect that amount in the near future!

New Timeline


Due to COVID-19, we are looking to postpone this project until Summer 2021, so until that point we will continue to fundraise. We are eligible for up to $300 in matching funding still so feel free to donate, share, and spread the word. Be safe all!




This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


  • Anonymous
  • Greene Photography LLC
  • Madilyne W.
  • Corinne S.
  • Anonymous
  • Amy D.
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

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