Cloudy Waters: Dakota Reflections on the River
Cloudy Waters is a multimedia piece that depicts the Mississippi River from the perspective of the Dakota, using ambient nature sounds interwoven with Dakota voices and projections of video and still images onto the Washburn Crosby West Engine House.
The river has been a site of both loss and strength for the Dakota community, connecting people yet serving as a boundary. It embodies the core Dakota belief “mitakuye owasin” (we are all related), signifying the profound connection among humans (and their thoughts, dreams, and ideas), other creatures, and the land we all share.
An audio version of Cloudy Waters plays every day in the Mill City Museum Ruin Courtyard, free and open to the public during museum hours. For the one night of Northern Spark, Cloudy Waters will be enhanced with projections of video and still images.
Cloudy Waters was developed by award-winning Dakota video producer and director Mona Smith in collaboration with the Minnesota Historical Society’s exhibit media team. It was first exhibited at the Minnesota History Center in 2004 and has been adapted and expanded for the Mill City Museum Ruin Courtyard.
Mona Smith (Sisseton–Wahpeton Dakota Oyate) is a media artist, educator, and the owner of Allies: media/art. Her work has been broadcast through PBS and other networks and shown at festivals, conferences, and museums in Europe and North and South America. She has received multiple awards from Native and non-Native film and video festivals, and in 2007 she was named Community Artist of the Year by the National Museum of the American Indian. Recently she has turned to new media, developing art pieces for the Internet, creating sites for web distribution of Native-focused media, and making multimedia installations. She and her family live near the Maka Cokiya Kin (center of the earth) in south Minneapolis, overlooking Wakpa Cistinna (Minnehaha Creek).