Weaving the River

Quindaro.

To those who live in the Greater Kansas City Area, the word Quindaro stirs up many thoughts and emotions, most negative.  The local news cycle depicts a violent vein within the inner city of Kansas City, Kansas. Some hear the word Quindaro and equate it with fear and poverty.  But at it's core, Quindaro is a community founded in hope, inclusiveness and resilience.  Quindaro is a reflection of what is best in all of us when we join together to fight against tyranny and repression.

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Weaving the River is an immersive art experience that depicts the unrecognized history of the Wyandotte Indian Settlement of Quindaro.

Once a vibrant trade port on the banks of the Missouri river and a key stop on the underground railroad; few voices rise to tell the epic tale of the progressive township’s resistance and strength.  

According to the Health Equity Action Transformation report released by Community Health Council of Wyandotte County in November 2016, out of 106 counties in the state of Kansas, the citizens of Wyandotte County consist of the most vulnerable populations in both individual and public health.  There is intense overlap of these social determinants of health that show the area surrounding Quindaro to be one of the most at-risk in the county.

Through the warp and weft of experience and research, our interpretation of the lore intends to reinvigorate pride and, in turn, the overall health of the community.  

Our team will create an installation that envelops the audience in the landscape of Quindaro. A soundscape composed by Jen Appell will include natural samples, voices of residents, songs of slavery and traditional Wyandot music. This element explores the synergies and counterpoints of the community’s complex cultural experience through the span of time. Jillian Youngbird will weave a “river” from sticks and resources collected from the site of the settlement and yarn steeped in water of the Missouri. This physical interpretation of Quindaro, which means “bundle of sticks” or “stronger together”, represents the strength of weaving together a community. Justin Border and Meghan Rowswell will sculpturally interpret the topography of the valley allowing the public to walk the landscape, illustrating the historical and current disparities between Kansas and Missouri. Our team will also create infographics depicting the population’s past and present challenges inspired by hand-drawn graphics created by W.E.B. DuBois.

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 The community-at-large will participate in crafting elements incorporated within the final presentation at events like the Wyandotte County Heritage Festival. Festival goers will have the opportunity to weave portions of the river and lend their voices to the soundscape.  

Viewers are encouraged to further interact with the project by tying strips of paper with their thoughts or wishes for the community throughout the final installation. These wishes will be ceremonially “released” at the site of the original Quindaro docks.

Through interactive engagement, we educate and advocate for the future of Quindaro.  Donations will be collected to help maintain the Old Quindaro Museum and further preserve the archaeological site.

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