Nibwaakaawin (Wisdom) Sentinel
The Sentinel is the largest, most elaborately costumed character in the procession. Each teaching is dramatized by one of these large-scale totemic figures. Elder Duke Redbird, who was one of the main inspirations for Ring of Fire and taught Marlon Griffith about the Seven Grandfather Teachings, plays Wisdom. Perched high atop a 10 foot “chariot” made of bent wood on an aluminum frame, all-seeing Wisdom is wheeled along the procession route by the surrounding “entourage” of performers.
Wisdom sees what is to come as well as all that has passed. This sentinel is the most “grounded,” though it extends tall toward the sky. Wisdom is connected to, and is a conduit for, the earth systems—what is constant through time—and just as it receives energy from the earth, it gives it back to the people for the future.
Here are a selection of Marlon Griffith’s initial sketches, artistic renderings, technical drawings, and images of the process of making Wisdom. These images comprise a process extending almost two years. While the forms are intended to give shape and spirit to each of the teachings, each are also closely tied to the individual who plays each Sentinel and are custom designed to fit that person. And while all of the processional players in each teaching are unique, each is connected through name, myth, symbol, or pattern.