A Statement from Olga Viso, Executive Director of the Walker Art Center (05.31.17)
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A Statement from Olga Viso, Executive Director of the Walker Art Center (05.31.17)

Photo: Gene Pittman

Following is the statement read by Walker Executive Director Olga Viso at a May 31 press conference about the agreement reached with Dakota Spiritual and Traditional Elders, representatives from the four federally recognized Dakota tribes, the Walker, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and artist Sam Durant about the future of Durant’s  sculpture

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this process—one focused on mutual understanding and respect. One that has the potential to begin healing for the Dakota people, our city, and our state.

We take great humility today.

This is the first step for the Walker in a long process to rebuild trust with the Dakota and Native communities throughout Minnesota.

I am grateful to the Traditional Spiritual Dakota Elders for their wisdom and patience.

This way forward allows for the artwork’s evolution, indeed transformation, from one kind of platform to another—one related to oral history and archive rather than physical structure.

Reaching an outcome that can provide an opportunity for ceremony as part of the removal of the sculpture from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is heartening to us all, most especially the artist.

There is no question that the Walker’s process in placing the sculpture in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was flawed. I apologize that we were not sufficiently aware of the implications of its placement or sympathetic to the pain and suffering that it would elicit.

We are deeply, deeply sorry and pledge to be better stewards of our relationship with communities going forward.

The Walker has much to do to rebuild trust in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

  • We will host forums for continued listening and learning.
  • We will reach out to Native communities, including Upper Sioux, Lower Sioux, Shakopee, and Prairie Island Nations who have asked for dialogue.
  • We will work to help bridge gaps in understanding among staff, board, and audiences.
  • We will examine our institutional structures and policies and work to make structural change.
  • We will start a process to work with Native artists to commission work for the Walker campus.

We thank the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the City of Minneapolis for their partnership and collaboration in moving forward together.

We thank the artist for his openness and commitment to this process.

We thank the mediator for volunteering her time.

We thank the Twin Cities community for their patience during this challenging time.

As we leave this meeting today, we have immense hope for the future and look forward to what we can accomplish together.

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