‘All that live and die, live again’: Public art in Port Huron honors Native American culture

In Port Huron, a new public artwork honors Native American culture and serves as a reminder of the original stewards of the land. 

The Seven Grandfather Teachings artwork was installed earlier this summer at the Blue Water River Walk, which is owned by the Blue Water Land Fund and supported by the Community Foundation of St. Clair County

Garrett Nahdee's artwork can be found along the Blue Water River Walk in Port Huron.
An initiative of the Blue Water River Walk Native American Art Project, the sculptures are the newest installation of artwork along the trail honoring Native American culture. The oak wood carvings depict seven animals representing different values, or teachings: The bear (courage), the bison (respect), the wolf (humility), the eagle (love), the beaver (wisdom), the turtle (truth), and the raven (honesty).

Artist Garrett Nahdee with his artwork. (Photo courtesy of Garrett Nahdee)The artwork was created by artist Garrett Nahdee, a dual-citizen of the U.S. and Canada, and Shawnee Ojibwe native who currently resides in Kettle Point, Ontario. 

“The seven grandfather teachings are leadership traits passed on from our elders,” says Nahdee. “It teaches us to be humble with others and respectful to mother earth and to love unconditionally all that is around us.”

Nahdee is a self-taught artist and says as a child would often draw animals such as eagles and ducks. 

“I’ve always been drawn to wildlife, the purity, innocence, and the beauty of God's many blessings,” says Nahdee. “Animals have feelings and emotions just like us humans, and they should be respected as such. I grew up hunting and fishing, and so it makes me much more grateful for the great outdoors, and that’s why I'm honored to paint and carve our wildlife.”

Garrett Nahdee's artwork can be found along the Blue Water River Walk in Port Huron.In his culture, Nahdee says that all living things have a spirit. 

“The flowers, the trees, the water, animals, birds, and humans — all that live and die, live again,” says Nahdee. “That's why it's important we take good care of Mother Earth, and all that dwells here. When we accept that we are all connected as one, then we will see the truth and forever prosper.”

To see the artwork, visit the Blue Water River Walk, located on Court Street along the St. Clair River in Port Huron. Those who are interested in commissioned work can contact Nahdee at nahdeeart@gmail.com.
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Read more articles by Liz Fredendall.

Liz Fredendall is a photojournalist and communications professional with nonprofit experience. During her free time, she enjoys reading and exploring the Blue Water Area with her husband Erick and their corgi, Nori. Contact Liz at editor@thekeelph.com or follow her on Instagram @lizfredendallphoto.