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Mille Lacs festival highlights wide breadth of Indigenous art

Corey Medina and Brothers will perform Sept. 3, 2023, at the Native American Music and Arts Festival in Onamia.
Minnesota Historical Society
Corey Medina and Brothers will perform Sept. 3, 2023, at the Native American Music and Arts Festival in Onamia.

Travis Zimmerman of the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post speaking on Centerstage Minnesota.

ONAMIA – This Sunday, Sept. 3, the shores of lake Mille Lacs will be filled with indigenous art.

“I think one of the things that we always want to make sure people know is we’re still here,” said Travis Zimmerman on Centerstage Minnesota, “American Indians are still here.”

A man with a long grey beard and black baseball cap.
Travis Zimmerman
Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post site manager Travis Zimmerman.

Zimmerman is the site manager of the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, located near Onamia on Mille Lacs lake. The museum, which is run by the Minnesota Historical Society, is hosting the Native American Music & Arts Festival from 10am to 5pm.

“There’s really something for everybody as far as the arts are concerned.” stated Zimmerman. Alongside more than a dozen artists selling their work, there will also be demonstrations on everything from painting buffalo hides to turning stinging nettles into rope.

The musical guests of the festival will also showcase a wide range of styles. Local drum group Timber Trails will begin the festival with traditional drumming and pow-wow songs. They will be followed by Nett Lake rock ‘n’ roll band War Bonnet, Mille Lacs band member Max Blake who plays double flute, and headliner Corey Medina & Brothers.

Spotlighting the traditional and modern is important to Zimmerman.

“A lot of people want to keep American Indian art, they want to pigeonhole it, they want to put it in a certain category, and that it needs to have this or that in order to qualify for Indian art,” said Zimmerman, “and what I’ve always told people is Indian art is any art made by American Indians.”

Check out the full conversation above.

Centerstage Minnesota, Fridays at 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. on KAXE/KBXE, is made possible by the citizens of Minnesota through the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund. 

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Malachy started his radio career at a college radio station, where he played weird music in the middle of the night to possibly no one. On a good night maybe his parents were listening. Nonetheless, he was hooked on public radio and is still doing it today. He joined Northern Community Radio in 2022, where he gets to share his passion for local music as Producer of Centerstage Minnesota, an all Minnesota music show airing Fridays at 2pm.