“Wóyake: Language in Lakota Art” Opens at the Aktá Lakota Museum

Posted on: November 20, 2023

An oft-heard expression says, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Though contemporary research often reports a worth even greater, a new exhibit at the Aktá Lakota Museum explores the relationship through a different measure. “It’s about a profound reclamation of language and identity through artistic expression,” said David Meyer III, the museum’s assistant curator.

From the silent narrative of a Winter Count pictograph to works that incorporate written words, the exhibit showcases the adaptability of the Lakota language to various expressions, each with a unique approach to language. Its title, “Wóyake” is Lakota for storytelling through verbal expression.

Poet and law professor Ann Tweedy, a museum visitor, remarked, “The current exhibit is spectacular. I learned so much about how contemporary Native artists incorporate text into visual artwork.”

Meyer curated the exhibit from the museum’s collection. It includes works by Arthur Amiotte, Roger Broer, Keith Braveheart, Dyani White Hawk, Nathanial Ruleaux, Dakota Hoska and more. “Woyake is a powerful testament to the resilience of a people who are determined to ensure their language and heritage is celebrated for generations to come,” Meyer noted.

The exhibit opened on November 13, 2023, and runs through April 2024.