Retracted: Nibiiwakamigkwe on the challenges to Indigenous artists

The Madison-based artist discusses navigating different areas of the arts world and their widely varied body of work.

Editors’ note, January 3, 2023: Tone Madison is retracting this article in light of revelations that its subject, Kay LeClaire, falsely claimed to have Native ancestry under the name nibiiwakamigkwe. References to their ancestry have been removed from references in other Tone Madison articles that cite them as a source. We have posted a full statement on this matter.

While we were not aware of the allegations against LeClaire until late December 2022, we acknowledge Tone Madison‘s complicity in providing a platform for this false representation. We apologize to Native members of our community, and to our readership as a whole.

—Scott Gordon, publisher


Kay LeClaire spoke with us on the  May 14 edition of Conduit, a livestream collaboration between Tone Madison, Communication, and UnderBelly. For each episode of Conduit, people make a small donation to join us on the call, and the money goes toward either the guest or an organization of the guest’s choosing. This time the proceeds were divided between our guest and the Ho-Chunk Nation Museum and Cultural Center in Tomah. You can sign up to join us on future episodes by filling out this Google Form.

The pandemic has only deepened the health and economic disparities that impact Indigenous people in the United States and around the world. The need to isolate and minimize travel makes it hard for Indigenous artists to gather natural materials in their work.

COVID-19 has also created massive disruptions for Indigenous cultures that have a strong commitment to oral culture—meaning it’s not so simple as writing down traditions or taking them online.

The next Conduit conversation is scheduled for May 28, when we’ll be talking with members of the Equity for Artists advocacy group.

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