Confronting Colonial Myths in Boston's Public Space

Tuesday, July 21st and July 28th at 6pm

Hosted by Mayor's Office of Arts & Culture Boston, streaming on Facebook Live

During this virtual panel series, Indigenous leaders, artists and allies will speak about their work in the public realm, and address how public symbols perpetuating colonial myths affect the lives of Indigenous people in the city, contributing to the public health emergency of racism. It will be live streamed through the Mayor's Office of Arts & Culture Boston Facebook page.


Facilitated by Erin Genia, Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota, Artist-in-Residence, City of Boston


Part 1, July 21st at 6pm EDT

Mahtowin Munro, Lakota, Co-leader of United American Indians of New England and lead organizer for IndigenousPeoplesDayMA.org will speak about the “Dismantle Now! BIPOC Solidarity Against White Supremacy: March + Art Action” that took place at Faneuil Hall Square on July 8th, as well as her work calling for the removal of the Columbus statue and other colonial monuments and symbols in Boston.

Lilly E. Manycolors, mixed Choctaw, interdisciplinary artist and scholar will discuss her work “MISKODOODISWAN Red Sweat Lodge: Witnessing/Healing of Missing and Murdered Women,” now installed on Boston Common.

Jean-Luc Pierite, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, President of the Board, North American Indian Center of Boston, will talk about his work advocating for the protection of sacred sites around Boston. 

Part 2, July 28th at 6pm EDT

Elizabeth Solomon, member of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag, has spent over 30 working in public health in both academic and community-based settings. Currently the Director of Administration in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

Pierre Belanger, Ghazal Jafari and Pablo Escudero of OPEN SYSTEMS. Following a 3-year process of investigation, they will shed light on the corruption of public process, the weaponization of urban space, and racialization of the public sphere in Boston with the Christopher Columbus monument on the waterfront in 1979, in the context of the rise of a 500-year old legacy of veneration of Columbus since 1492. Pierre Bélanger is a settler designer, originally from Montréal and Ottawa, now in Boston, traditional lands of the Massachusett Peoples, territory of the Wampanoag and Nipmuc Nations. Ghazal Jafari is a designer of Persian and Azeri descent and Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia, traditional lands of the Monacan Nation. Pablo Escudero is an Ecuadorian farmer, architect, and Fulbright Scholar in the US from Quito, on traditional territories of Kechwa Peoples. Together, they are part of the co-founders of OPEN SYSTEMS, a design-based, non-profit research organization of builders, educators, and farmers, dedicated to opening systemic knowledge related to complex, socioecological challenges and geopolitical conflicts—at the intersection of land, water, environmental justice, spatial inequality, climate change, and community self-determination.

Heather Leavell (she/her/hers) is a second generation Italian American (on her mother's side) and co-founder of Italian Americans for Indigenous Peoples Day, a Massachusetts-based group supporting Indigenous-led efforts to rename Columbus Day across the state. She also works as an accomplice to help raise awareness of Indigenous legislative priorities, including bills that would abolish Native mascots in public schools and change the state flag. Leavell is a museum director and curator in the Boston area.

Dr. Darlene Flores, mother of three, comes from a lineage of curanderos (healers) from Boriken (Puerto Rico). She is the sole owner of Karaya Wellness Clinic in Brookline, MA. Dr. Flores practices a Holistic approach to Chiropractic medicine, implementing ancestral remedies, including but not limited to, alcolados, banos, and spiritual energy work. She loves to teach classes on Holistic Health and Wellness. She also has a passion for dancing “Bomba” music. Which is the traditional ancestral resistance music from the island of Boriken; rooted in the history of the African and Indigenous slavery. Dr. Darlene Flores is an active registered member of Higuayagua Taino of the Caribbean Tribe. She serves as one of their healers and Medicine women.

Part 3, August 4th at 6pm EDT

Jenny Oliver has been an artist in the city of Boston for 15 years, moving here after undergrad and working within the community as a teacher, performer, choreographer and advocate for artistic integrity. As a culturally Black person of Cape Verdean and Indigenous heritage with membership in the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag it has become important to her to address the erasure of Native people in her teachings and performances. In 2016 she established Connections Dance Theater as a way to work at the intersection of dance, education and philanthropy towards elevating issues affecting black people, indigenous people and people of color. She was the inaugural recipient of the DanceMaker’s Residency at the Boston Center for the Arts where she debuted her first evening length production, HOT WATER OVER RAISED FISTS; educating audiences about the injustice and urgency of water rights through the protests at Standing Rock and the ongoing crisis in Flint, MI. When she is not creating, she is elevating minds and empowering bodies on faculty at Tufts University, Emerson College, Deborah Mason Performing Arts Center and the Dance Complex.

Kristen Wyman's fight for the right to land, food, medicine and human dignity is completely tied to her identity and responsibility as a Nipmuc woman, mother, and daughter. She is co-Founder of Eastern Woodlands Rematriation (EWR), a network of Indigenous peoples restoring the foundation of sustainable food systems. Her work is deeply personal and motivated by the important roles of womxn as landholders, farmers, culture bearers, artisans and diplomats. As the Global Movements Program Manager with WhyHunger Kristen supports social movement processes at the global level, in their path towards food sovereignty and liberation. She focuses mostly on strategic plans, communication strategies, and grassroots methodologies for building mass power.