Jaida Grey Eagle

Jaida's "It's the People" banner portrait

Jaida Grey Eagle

Jaida Grey Eagle is an Oglala Lakota artist located in St. Paul. Grey Eagle is a photojournalist, producer, beadwork artist and writer. She is also a Report for America Fellow with the Sahan Journal, covering immigrant and refugee stories in the Twin Cities and an ongoing former Curatorial Fellow for the Minneapolis Institute of Art researching Indigenous photography. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts emphasized in Fine Art Photography from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Grey Eagle is highlighting the culture and meaning of dance and what it means to various communities throughout the Twin Cities in a time when our people are hurting and reeling from not only a racial reckoning but the hard-felt impacts of a pandemic.

These dances span many different times throughout history and many different communities, but each brings its own significance to today. Jaida believes dance to be healing in so many ways. She wishes to use this opportunity to honor the dancers for what they bring to us during this time. They are always showing up for the community, and Jaida believes showing up for them is an honor.


Meet the subjects

Gayatri Narayanan

Jaida Grey Eagle's artwork submission for "It's the People" 2022

Left to right in the picture: Gayatri, Atquetzali, Malgaren, Nina and Lue

Gayatri is a dancer and healing justice organizer. She is committed to serving abolition and anti-caste movements and invites her community to be in relationship with her art as a practice of interrupting Brahmanical patriarchy and healing from white supremacy.

Atquetzali Quiroz — Traditional Azteca dancer

Atquetzali was born and raised in St. Paul, Mni Sota (Minnesota), homeland of the Dakota and Ojibwe peoples. She is a co-founder of Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli, a traditional Mexica dance group. Atquetzali co-teaches danza, song and philosophy classes with her family. She was a youth intern at Asian American Organizing Project as well as the Engagement Coordinator for Filipinx for Immigrant Rights & Racial Justice MN, organizations that emphasize the importance of civic engagement and social justice. Atquetzali is a youth organizer at Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center and co-founder of the International Indigenous Youth Council — Twin Cities Chapter. In those roles, Atquetzali is able to learn and practice her passion for uplifting youth voices, language revitalization, traditional women’s wellness and preserving and protecting the waters and land.

Malgaren Mekonen — Traditional Oromo dancer

Nina Rose Berglund — Jingle dress dancer

Nina Berglund is an Indigenous youth leader, public speaker and climate activist fighting on behalf of her people, the lands and water. Born and raised in the Twin Cities, Nina has been organizing alongside other youth against Enbridge’s Line 3 proposed pipeline — currently being pushed to be built in Northern Minnesota — to prevent the destruction, exploitation and violence that comes with it.

Nina is extremely passionate about uplifting and supporting the voices of the youth in spaces where the native presence runs short. She regularly travels to different territories to support and make connections with communities most impacted by the climate crisis. She believes in looking toward and utilizing traditional values and methods as the crucial solutions and answers the world is frantically searching for. She stands strong as a fierce leader to honor her ancestors and bring hope and peace for the coming generations.

Lue “Finisher” Thao — Hip hop dancer, director and break dance instructor

Lue Thao, also known as Bboy Finisher, is a professional dancer who teaches, travels and competes around the United States. In 2017, Lue founded Cypher Side Dance School and Studio with support from fellow collective artists from Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center. He is currently a member of Optimistic Crew and has been dancing for 13 years with seven years of teaching experience. Lue has won more than 20 competitions in Minnesota and beyond. Born in Thailand, Lue was raised in the east side of St. Paul for the majority of his life and graduated from Harding High School. Lue has showcased on live TV for Fox 9 News and TPT. Lue also performs for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx halftime/quarter shows with a crew called First Avenue Breakers. Lue has performed in other special performances, including Justin Timberlake’s halftime Super Bowl 52 show, with Vanilla Ice during the I Love the 90s tour and with Tori Kelly for the Prince Tribute Concert.