A Michigan State University exhibit designed to raise awareness of Native American tribes has been hit by thieves who stole four of its 12 pieces.
The nationally acclaimed artist, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds — a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian tribes and former visiting artist in residence at the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities — says the thefts reflect an apparent lack of respect from students, according to this story in the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal.
“It’s kind of hard to believe that with such a small campus, people wouldn’t understand it’s an art thing,” he says. “To me, (the theft) related to Native American freedom or rights.”
The exhibit consisted of 12 metal signs valued at as much as $10,000. Each of the signs was marked with the words “Michigan, today your host is,” followed by the names of different Native American tribes in the state, the Journal reports. The four signs were stolen over the weekend.Heap of Birds says a previous exhibit of his at the University of Illinois also was vandalized. (See background story here.)
While he wants whomever took the signs to be prosecuted, mostly he just wants his work back, he says.
“The work is available for people to see so they can be educated of native rights,” he said. “It’s really necessary to have this type of work to educate, to have students educated about native life and culture – that’s the mission of the art work.”