The Tracks We Leave…

This column is dedicated to the honoring of Native American women who have left their tracks to create meaningful changes and important Improvements through their advocacy, compassion and dedication.

This is written as a tribute and to thank the Native Americans who have left their meaningful tracks on this earth.  They gave their compassion, time, energy, talent and advocacy to create a better world for all those who crossed their path.

 

Leatrice Mikkelsen II

This column honors Leatrice Angle Mikkelson who lived from August 1937 through April 2016.

Leatrice was a gifted Native American artist of Navajo (Dineh)/Wyandotte’s ancestry.  She was a loving mother, a motivator for change and a dear friend of mine.
Leatrice completed a robust and stunning body of paintings and other artistic objects throughout her lifetime.  She was not always given the recognition she deserved.  At one early point in her career, her work was described as, “too Indian.”  Throughout her lifetime, her work was shown in numerous exhibitions and shows. Leatrice encouraged other Native American artists and promoted new ventures to display Native art.
Leatrice was also a teacher and an advocate for a gambit of Indian issues.  She described her own work as, “a pursuit of the spiritual connection between the mythic world and the world we live.  The time I spent on a painting is involved in summoning the images, which lie under the conscious mind.”  In Leatrice’s world nothing was insignificant.  All things had meaning and were sacred.
Her art was often playful.  But in the Native cultures, serious social issues are encapsulated in humour and mythic tricksters.  This was true of Leatrice’s work.  Her inclusion of the Jackalope were frequently seen.  This rabbit with attached deer horns was her iconic trickster.
As in her art, Leatrice herself was complex, genuine, humble, playful, innovative, deep and spiritual.  She always saw beyond the initial appearance or impression.  Through her eyes, I expanded my awareness of nature.  I began seeing shapes, colors, shadows, secret objects and meanings never noticed before my journeys with this lady.  This included my perceptions of people through her insights.  Leatrice respected others, and I witnessed how she influenced others by being a role model.  She had strong family ties.  She was attentive to her elderly mother until she passed.  She was very proud of her daughters and their families.
Besides all her work and talent to educate and promote the awareness and issues of the Native American, one the of the most profound tracks Leatrice put on the earth was her pride in her heritage.  She was a strong, proud Indian, a model of undaunted fear of letting the world know who she was and to what we should give our voices.  Her family has done a great job of preserving her art works.  (See, A Song For You; Paintings by Leatrice Mikkelson, Quotations by Leatrice Mikkelson, Text by Frank Lapena .  This exquisite book was published in 2013, Blurb Online Publishers.)
There is a current exhibition of Leatrice’s paintings at Mantra Tasting Room in Novato, CA.  Go meet her Jackalope Jill!

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