While kids and families enjoyed the NestFest on a hot Saturday afternoon, on the west edge of North Park along 22nd Street, an Indigenous ceremony welcomed the latest public art piece for a neighborhood bike path.

Around 40 guests witnessed this latest display, Eternal Presence, the painted metal symbols for a Native American woman and man, created by Mariah Gladstone.

The inauguration began with a smudging ceremony conducted by a man named Josiah.  Smudging is a cleansing act with the smoke from an earthen bowl passed over head, heart and body.  With Josiah singing a prayer song, guests approached and partook in the cleansing ritual.

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Gladstone wove tribal elements into the faces from all the cultures who resided in the Yellowstone area for a thousand years.  The bodies are specifically the Blackfeet symbols for woman and man, and painted with the Rimrocks, the Yellowstone River, the Billings skyline, and a Native lodge.

“The juxtaposition of the modern skyline with the lodge celebrates the longevity of Indigenous presence on the land," she explained.

Credit: Travis Lee, TSM
Credit: Travis Lee, TSM

Nina Sanders from TRIA praised Mariah and all the parties who brought this Indigenous recognition to life.  Denise Joy from the Billings City Council grew emotional in her gratitude at the fruition of this project.  A casually-dressed Mayor Bill Cole added his delight for public art to uplift the community.

The event culminated with a ribbon cutting by Mariah with her husband and by Denise.  Artists and attendees were then treated to ice cream under the warm sunshine.

Credit: Travis Lee, TSM
Credit: Travis Lee, TSM

You can see all three art displays along the new Billings neighborhood bikeway.  The map app for the bikeway and trails is downloadable with a special QR code.  And please take your time enjoying the Magic City.

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Keep reading to find out individual state records in alphabetical order.

Gallery Credit: Anuradha Varanasi

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