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Unbottling an Epidemic explores the use of pottery to visualize data and tell stories on missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people. In this work, Artist Fellow Elizabeth Skye created unique bottles representing individual MMIWG2 cases, with the aim of creating an impactful representation of MMIWG2 data, and fostering critical dialogue on this violence.


Skye created hand-casted bottles inspired by the shapes of milk cartons, as a means

of representing the history behind the epidemic of violence against indigenous women

and girls. The bottles created in this work are reminiscent of the missing persons labels that historically were printed on milk cartons; this is to make the bottles recognizable as calling attention to stolen relatives, and to criticize the irresponsible negligence of federal and local law enforcement in handling MMIWG2 cases, many of which are missing persons reports

that they fail to adequately document or publicize.


The care involved in hand-casting each bottle, and creating personalized labels is a reclamation of the sacredness of MMIWG2, and an honoring of the unique spirit of each stolen relative. 


Unbottling an Epidemic is a Leading Community Researcher project. In these projects, SBI provides support to Leading Community Researchers, who are Indigenous scholars, community organizers, and data visualists engaged in critical, innovative work to help us better understand, address, and prevent gender and sexual violence against Indigenous people. The support we provide to these leading community researchers is designed to support them in the good work they continue to do as leaders; each researcher is provided a stipend, assistance from an RA, financial support for their project, and support and feedback from SBI staff, Board, and partners as needed. We are proud of the interdisciplinarity, diversity, intellect, and heart each one brings to the work they are doing with SBI and for our peoples.


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Elizabeth Skye is the third daughter born to Mary DeCory and Martin Skye in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1997. She is of Lakȟóta, Menominee, French/German, and Scottish descent and is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Elizabeth was raised in the heart of the historical district of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she was introduced to the arts at a young age. She graduated from Lincoln High School in 2015 and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts: Ceramics degree at the University of South Dakota. Elizabeth has worked for the University as a counselor for their Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute, and has taught art classes to ages 5-18 at other art camps in the Vermillion area. Skye plans on attending graduate school to become an Art Therapist, with her target group being Indigenous youth and families with interest in community based projects. Her recent work has primarily dealt with indigeneity in the 21st century as a young Indigenous woman, reflecting her experiences and perceptions in response to colonial social structures.

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