Porcupine’s Passing at Denver Zoo Inspires Neighborhood, Cultural Teachings

DENVER—The demise of a much-liked North American porcupine last month at the Denver Zoo had an unexpectedly satisfied ending. 

When the zoo introduced the passing of Quill the porcupine on its social media, Lakota artist Danielle SeeWalker reached out with an idea to honor the porcupine and harvest its quills with a group challenge.

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“I have been funding and facilitating a quillwork workshop with an elder in the local community, so it was my intent to call the zoo and honor Quill,” SeeWalker instructed Native Information On line. “I had spelled out to the zoo that quillwork is a dyeing artwork, and people today in urban configurations never have accessibility to porcupines that could possibly be on the side of the street like we do back again property in the Dakotas.”

SeeWalker is a Hunkpapa Lakota writer, artist, and activist from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. She previously partnered on a conservation art mural project honoring the American Bison and experienced an set up marriage with the Denver Zoo. In addition, she serves as the co-chair of the Denver American Indian Commission. 

“This would be a good discovering working experience for city Natives that have in no way cleaned a porcupine and harvested its quills,” SeeWalker proposed. “In exchange, we will make and donate a piece of quillwork to the Denver Zoo to commemorate Quill’s life.”

Alongside with donating the concluded piece to the zoo, a plaque describing the uniquely Native artwork of quillwork will cling with it.

“Visitors to the zoo can fully grasp that we, as Indigenous folks, treasure our romance with animals, and we respect the gifts they give us,” SeeWalker reported. 

The Denver Zoo responded immediately and was eager to accommodate SeeWalker’s request. On February 3, 2023, about a dozen individuals participated in processing Quill’s quills at the Denver Zoo.

Quill experienced lived at the zoo for 13 many years, which was the the greater part of his life. In January, zoo keepers noticed modifications in Quill’s conduct and, right after an crisis exam, diagnosed him with innovative liver failure. Soon after conversations in between the zoo’s animal treatment staff members and veterinary medicine workforce, it was determined that Quill experienced a poor prognosis for recovery and the conclusion was designed to euthanize him.

“Quill was an very well known animal,” stated Denver Zoological Basis Director of Communications Jake Kubie. “He was a single of our animal ambassadors and related with a whole lot of our visitors… We’re so honored to share Quill’s quills with the local community.”

Mar Williams, a citizen of the Choctaw Country of Oklahoma, participated in harvesting Quill’s quills and felt fortunate to participate.

“The zoo trip was such a neat prospect, and I experience lucky that I received to take part in it,” Williams informed Indigenous News. “I assume it is significant and important to interact with loss of life, with our foodstuff, art, regardless of what it might be, simply because we have been so eradicated from it. I experienced by no means touched a porcupine right before. I have more respect and a further knowing of the artwork sort now, having traveled via the entire procedure of harvesting, dying, and wrapping the quills.”

Williams expressed appreciation for the way that SeeWalker and other instructors handled the problem.  Equally Williams and SeeWalker ended up grateful for Skip Cecilia, who hosted the workshop. 

“Danielle and the other instructors have accomplished a great task placing this course on. It feels snug like the way we’re meant to find out from elders and local community,” Williams said. “I’m Choctaw and really don’t have a immediate ancestral tie to quillwork, but in the broader Native group perception, it feels definitely wonderful to be integrated and linked to this art kind.”

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About The Writer

Author: Darren ThompsonE mail: This email tackle is being safeguarded from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to watch it.

Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a staff members reporter for Indigenous News On line who is based mostly in the Twin Towns of Minnesota. Thompson has noted on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous concerns for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Community, Indian Country Now, Native Information On the internet, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Periods, the Washington Post, and Voice of The us on various Indigenous problems in intercontinental conversation. He has a bachelor’s diploma in Criminology & Legislation Research from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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