Colorful mural pays tribute to Minnesota teen 'who holds things together,' 15 years after her death

The newly completed mural on the Chanelle Rosebear Memorial Basketball Court in Ponemah. Photo courtesy of E. Jourdain, Jr. Photography.
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PONEMAH, Minn. — Children playing basketball at the courts in Ponemah, Minn., will only have to look down at the ground beneath their feet to be reminded of an ideal role model, Chanelle Rosebear.

Rosebear, one of the lives tragically lost during the 2005 Red Lake High School shooting, was memorialized Tuesday, Aug. 18, with a mural depicting her in traditional regalia atop the basketball courts that bear her name.

Her Ojibwe name, Mindimooyehn, which means “one who holds things together,” is doubly fitting: Rosebear still brings her northern Minnesota community together 15 years after her death. Basketball, one of her main hobbies, holds the community together for many Red Lake youth, said Thomas Barrett, who was Rosebear’s high school boyfriend.

The basketball courts in Ponemah have been named for Rosebear for a few years now, but her family and friends struggled to find the right way to depict this. A plaque? A sign? A bench? Those didn’t seem right.

Barrett, who is the head of the Red Lake Boys and Girls Club, had an idea. The club has funding for an artist-in-residency program, so they hired Leland Bryan, a Lakota artist from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, to teach the children in the club the basics of graffiti art and create a mural honoring Rosebear.


Barrett sees Rosebear as the ideal role model for children in the boys and girls club, he said.

“I want all of our youth to be like Chanelle,” he said. “She was kind-hearted, a good friend, did well in school, played sports and danced in her regalia.”

Bryan traveled out to Minnesota last week to begin the mural, which took him about four days to complete, with club members assisting with the project.

The mural is a large, graffiti-style piece depicting Rosebear in her fancy shawl dance regalia, surrounded by Ojibwe-style flowers.

The mural was dedicated Tuesday, which would’ve been Rosebear’s 31st birthday, after a ceremonial relay-style run from the powwow grounds in Red Lake to the basketball courts in Ponemah, about 30 miles.

Runners approach the basketball courts in Ponemah. Photo courtesy of E. Jourdain, Jr. Photography.

Running is significant to Ojibwe culture as a way of carrying prayers, Barrett explained. The group carried a staff along the way, which was gifted to Red Lake by a tribe in Canada in the aftermath of the 2005 tragedy. The staff bears 10 eagle feathers, representing the 10 lives lost.


Upon arriving at the courts hours later, runners were greeted by Rosebear’s family, where they shared in honor songs, speeches and a meal.

“When we got here we were greeted by the family who were waiting at the mural at the basketball courts,” Barrett said. “They were really happy about the way it turned out, it was nothing but good feelings.”

He described the day as “obviously emotional” but said, “We all knew it was for a good thing, it was all good vibes.”

Hannah Olson is a multimedia reporter for the Pioneer covering education, Indigenous-centric stories and features.
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