Category Archives: Social

Cree Artist Kent Monkman Redraws History for 2020

“Coonskin caps for Christmas! I was a kid in mid-20th-century America. The biggest cultural event I can remember from early childhood was Walt Disney’s gigantically popular “Davy Crockett: Indian Fighter” on TV. The first installment of a serial, which debuted on Dec. 15, 1954, it was basically about the exploits of a Tennessee backwoods gun-for-hire, and promoted nostalgia for the days when the Wild West was ‘won’ from indigenous peoples”. H. Cotter, The New York Times

Mr. Monkman’s “Resurgence of the People,” from 2019, references art history, from “Washington Crossing the Delaware”

Excerpt: A Cree Artist Redraws History, By Holland Cotter, The New York Times

“A verse of the theme song, which was everywhere on the radio, went:

Andy Jackson is our gen’ral’s name

His reg’lar soldiers we’ll put to shame

Them redskin varmints us Volunteers’ll tame

‘Cause we got the guns with the surefire aim

Davy, Davy Crockett, the champion of us all!

Andy Jackson was, of course, Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, whose 1830 signing of the Indian Removal Act led to the Trail of Tears, and whose portrait now hangs, at the request of the 45th and sitting president [Trump], in the Oval Office of the White House.

Emanuel Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” from 1851, is one of many art references Mr. Monkman updates. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

All this came back to mind when I saw “The Great Hall Commission: Kent Monkman, mistikosiwak (Wooden Boat People)” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The second in a continuing series of contemporary works sponsored by the Met, it consists of two monumental new paintings by the Canadian artist Kent Monkman, installed on either side of the museum’s main entrance in the soaring Great Hall.

The paintings are pretty stupendous. Each measuring almost 11 feet by 22 feet, they are multi-figured narratives, inspired by a Euro-American tradition of history painting but entirely present-tense in theme and tone. And both are unmistakably polemical, suggesting that with this and other commissions — an earlier one, sculptures by the Kenyan-born artist Wangechi Mutu, is still in place on the museum’s Fifth Avenue facade — certain winds of change could be blowing through the Met’s art-temple precincts.

Mr. Monkman, 54, is one of Canada’s best-known contemporary artists, and one who has stirred controversy on his home ground. Of mixed Cree and Irish heritage, he has made the violence done under European occupation, to North America’s first peoples, a central subject of his work.

But he has also, crucially, flipped a conventional, disempowering idea of Native victimhood on its head.

Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, in heels, provides a rescuing hand in Welcoming the Newcomers. His sources include Courbet and Titian.Credit Kent Monkman

His paintings, done in a crisply realistic, highly detailed, somewhat cut-and-paste illustrational style, are far from grim… the image of the artist himself in the guise of his alter ego, a buff, cross-dressing, gender-fluid tribal leader named Miss Chief Eagle Testickle…Miss Chief is an avatar of a global future that will see humankind moving beyond the wars of identity — racial, sexual, political — in which it is now perilously immersed.

The most radical aspect of his work in the context of the Met — an ‘encyclopedic’ museum thoroughly Western in attitude — is that it presents a view of art history through the eyes of the Other, in this case Native Americans and people of Canada’s First Nations. The shift in cultural positioning begins with the exhibition title.

Mistikosiwak, or Wooden Boat People, was a Cree name for European settlers arriving in what is now North America. One of the two paintings, Welcoming the Newcomers, depicts such an arrival, with Native people greeting strangers at the Atlantic shore.

But the scene is less a reception than a rescue. A capsized boat is visible in the distance… Several of the painting’s Indigenous figures are based on examples of 19th-century art in the Met’s collection. Among them are sculptures like ‘Mexican Girl Dying’ by Thomas Crawford (1846), on view in the museum’s American Wing, and paintings like Eugène Delacroix’s ‘The Natchez,’ in the 19th- and early 20th-Century

European galleries. Each of the originals perpetuates the myth of the Native Americans as a vanishing people, doomed to disappear, a fiction that usefully underpinned and fueled another myth, that of Western ‘Manifest Destiny.’

On the left: A detail from Eugène Delacroix’s “The Natchez,” 1823-24 and 1835. The scene was inspired by a romantic novel in which the infant born to a Native couple is doomed to die.Credit The Metropolitan Museum of Art

On the right:A detail from Kent Monkman’s “Resurgence of the People” updates Delacroix’s pessimistic image by depicting a healthy baby in the arms of a same-sex Indigenous couple. CreditKent Monkman

In Mr. Monkman’s paintings, Indigenous people are, for the most part, proactive figures, shaping the world around them, which doesn’t mean he ignores the catastrophes that followed the European occupation… when he depicts the figure of a child apparently sick and dying in his mother’s arms, he lifts the figure from a painting of “The Massacre of the Innocents” by the European artist Francois Joseph Navez.

Mr. Monkman’s image of the child — a reference to the damage done by the forced placement of Indigenous children in white-run boarding schools — appears in the second Met-commissioned painting, ‘Resurgence of the People.’ Here we are in an imagined future. Centuries have passed since “Welcoming the Newcomers.” Terrible things have happened to the planet. The only remaining bit of solid earth is an island guarded by armed white nationalists and soon to be submerged by a churning oil-slicked sea.

Indigenous people now command an open boat, of a kind familiar from contemporary news photos of refugees. People rescued in the first painting are now rescuers themselves, pulling in and tending to whoever swims toward them, including a white businessman wearing a chunky gold watch and Hermès tie. All of the boat’s rowers are Indigenous; more than half are women dressed in contemporary traditional styles…And once again Miss Chief presides over all, leads the way forward.

She’s modeled on the title figure in Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” one of the Met’s most popular American art attractions… Even in the Met’s two-story-high Great Hall, the two pictures read clearly, vividly, particularly “Resurgence of the People” with its more organic composition, toothsome colors, and skillfully managed use of painted light…If the museum intends to sustain this engagement, as seems likely under its current director, Max Hollein, commissioned projects like this one (and Ms. Mutu’s) are one way to go, leaving trophy displays of celebrity collectibles to art fairs.”

The Great Hall Commission: Kent Monkman, mistikosiwak (Wooden Boat People)

Through April 9 2020 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan; 212-535-7710, metmuseum.org.

Agate House at night-by Melany Sarafis

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“Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story”

“Using brief statements that begin ‘fry bread is,’ Kevin Noble Maillard, who is a member of the Mekusukey band of the Seminole Nation tribe, creates a powerful meditation on the food as ‘a cycle of heritage and fortune.’  The beautiful illustrations are by Juana Martinez-Neal.” Publishers Weekly

Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard

Excerpt: Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story

In each spread, descriptions of fry bread range from the experiential (flavor, sound) to the more conceptual (nation, place). Bolstering the bold statements, spare poems emphasize fry bread in terms of provenance (‘Fry bread is history/ The long walk, the stolen land’), culture (‘Fry bread is art/ Sculpture, landscape, portrait’), and community (‘Fry bread is time/ On weekdays and holidays/ Supper or dinner/ Powwows and festivals’).

In blues and browns with bright highlights, Martinez-Neal’s wispy art features a diverse group of six children carrying ingredients and learning about each statement.

A fry bread recipe concludes the book, and an author’s note offers vital, detailed context about this varied dish and its complex history (“The story of fry bread is the story of American Indians”). Ages 3–6. (Oct.)

Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard, illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-62672-746-5

Category: Culture, Social

The Seminole Tribe Sending Supplies to the Bahamas

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida has airlifted some 35,000 cases of bottled water over the past five days. Now relief efforts are moving to the sea in light of rapidly changing weather conditions.” S.H. Schulman, ICT

Photo credit-Seminole Tribe-ICT

Excerpt:First by air, now by sea; Seminole Tribe boosts relief effort as new storm forms By Sandra H. Schulman ICT

“Tribal spokesman Gary Bitner says for the past five days water was trucked using Seminole Gaming vehicles and then flown to the Bahamas by Sheltair Aviation. Now it’s being loaded onto shipping containers and shipped by boat.

The urgent delivery took a turn Friday when the government of the Bahamas issued a tropical storm warning for the region. The Abacos, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence are expecting tropical storm conditions, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The new storm first referred to as “potential tropical cyclone nine” which later became Tropical Storm Humberto, may produce total rain accumulations of two to four inches and maximum sustained winds near 30 mph through Sunday with as much as seven inches in the northwest and the central Bahamas. This is frightening news for the islands that experienced such massive devastation and flooding earlier this month…The tribal council will be meeting next week after the storm has passed to re-evaluate relief efforts and the best ways to provide them.

The tribe’s aviation department had been making three roundtrip flights a day since last week with two helicopters and a single-engine Pilatus PC-12/45 airplane. Deliveries were made in cooperation with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, which operates the Grand Bahama International Airport at Freeport.

‘The Seminole Tribe has a long and important history with the people of the Bahamas, and we are committed to helping them in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian,’ said Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr.

As many as 13,000 homes in the Bahamas may have been destroyed or severely damaged by Hurricane Dorian, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

As for now the Seminole Tribe of Florida say their eyes are now on the coming tropical storm.”

 

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United Houma Nation Braces for Tropical Storm Barry

“Louisiana tribe [United Houman Nation] evacuates citizens to shelters provided by federally-recognized tribes ** Updated Saturday 9 am EST” P. Talahongva, ICT

Chief August Creppel of the United Houma Nation

Excerpt: Tribes brace for Tropical Storm Barry, By Patty Tala hongva, ICT

“Tropical Storm Barry is expected to be a full-blown hurricane by the time it hits land in the gulf coast early Saturday morning. It is the first hurricane of the season.

For days Chief August Creppel of the United Houma Nation, south of New Orleans, and his staff have been issuing warnings and preparing its 17,000-plus members to evacuate 24 hours in advance. The tribe’s headquarters is in Golden Meadow along the gulf and in the direct path of the storm. Most of the members live in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish which are both under emergency evacuation orders by local officials.

This photo was taken in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. Some tribal members didn’t rebuild after Katrina. (Facebook)

‘Definitely thousands of our people will be affected by the hurricane,’ warns the chief. He also serves as firefighter and will be on duty until Monday morning.

‘We have a radio station,’ says Creppel. ‘I have a council of people in different areas who keep in contact with local communities. We also have a tribal website we put out information.’

On the front page of the tribe’s website is a form members can fill out to report storm damage and request funds for repairs once they return home.

Tribal members packed their bags and piled furniture high on Thursday to try and avoid the expected floodwaters as much as possible. Nothing is guaranteed because the storms seem to be increasing due to climate change.

A Category 1 hurricane used to be ‘no problem,’ said Chief Creppel. ‘Normally our people would just ride it out, but now it doesn’t take much high water and our people are already flooded.’

Because they are only state-recognized tribe he will not get direct federal aid to help his tribal members. They will rely on state assistance, the goodwill of donors and emergency-assistant groups like the Red Cross, which has already contacted the tribe.

‘We can do more for our people once we get federal recognition,’ he says. ‘Right now, I’m trying to push through Congress to get a bill passed.’

The Tunica Biloxi tribe has a big pavilion and are set up to host storm evacuees. Tunica is a three-hour drive away.

Houma citizens can also seek shelter with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw which is a five- to six-hour drive away. Both of those tribes are federally-recognized.”

“Media Bias and Racism Are Still Killing Indians”

“The following is the text of a letter sent by Ian Zabarte of the Western Shoshone Nation to editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez and The Las Vegas Review-Journal.” Indianz.com News

By Michael Ramirez January 28, 2019-

Excerpt :

“Yesterday, January 28, 2019, the Las Vegas Review Journal published a propaganda cartoon in derogation of Native Americans using a stereotype of Indian alcoholism. Racism is an abuse no matter how softly or funny media represent its abuse.

There is a genuine and pervasive failure of trust by the media to report the truth of issues concerning Indigenous people. It is media disservice to openness, freedom of information and democracy. The Shoshone people seek understanding and reconciliation and get abuse from the Las Vegas Review Journal. Similar abuse was reported in the recent submission to the UN International Convention on Civil and Political Rights as, propaganda in support of genocide.

The point is that media bias and racism kill Indians. In 1850, California passed An Act for the Protection and Governance of Indians that authorized Indian hunters to take Indian hands and scalps for $25 and make slaves of Indians found not working. Slaves were taken until they showed miners where the gold was such as in the case of a Shoshone tortured to give the location of gold at Rhyolite…Before any settler or miner saw an Indian, media propaganda was there.

Today, the media does not report Native American past exposure to radioactive fallout from US/UK secret nuclear testing and disproportionate burden of risk.

The Shoshone people cannot endure any increased burden of risk from any source including resumption of WMD testing by US/UK, plutonium disposal from the Savanna River Site, depleted uranium disposal, proposed high-level nuclear waste disposal at Yucca Mountain, coal ash uranium or fracking released radiation.

We should all be offended by genocide.

The motive for the US to is to defraud the Shoshone people of our property. The intent to commit genocide is the culture of secrecy because we will never know what is killing Indians in secret. Biased media does not help protect the Shoshone people by providing unbiased information of importance to indigenous people so we can take protective action.

Las Vegas Review Journal stop fanning the flames of hate and intolerance. We are all responsible for addressing genocide.”

Sincerely,

Ian Zabarte, Principal Man

Western Bands of the Shoshone Nation of Indians

Category: Culture, Social

Tribes Intend to Celebrate Grand Canyon’s 100-Year Centennial …Shutdown or Not!

“This is the year to GO GRAND as the National Park Service celebrates the Grand Canyon National Park’s Centennial acknowledging the canyon’s significant relationships with the park’s 11 traditionally-associated tribes. The celebration will be very Native-inclusive as the regions Tribal Nations have all been invited to participate. ” ICT

Canyons–Arizona–Grand Canyon National Park–1900-1940 : National Photo Company Collection.

Excerpt: Shutdown won’t stop it: Grand Canyon 100-year Celebration, Native American Style

“…The Grand Canyon is, by far, Arizona’s most-visited national park unit, and Governor Doug Ducey’s decision to use state funds to keep it open during the shutdown means that visitors did not have to alter their travel plans, and the park’s concessionaires—including the lodges and restaurants—could remain open. Tour companies, too, continue to do business at the Grand Canyon. While there are no federal employees counting cars at national parks right now, indications are that visitation to the Grand Canyon has remained strong through the shutdown.

The centennial celebration will take place on February 26.

Grand Canyon’s Native American Havasupai Tribe has been living in and around the South Rim of the canyon for 800 years.

‘The 100th year milestone celebration is a time for reflection on the past and inspiration for the future, honoring those who have called the canyon home for thousands of years,’ says Park Superintendent Christine Lehnert… While millions of visitors ooh and aah at the canyon’s splendors each year, others have quietly appreciated its beauty for centuries.

The Havasupai tribe has been living in and around the South Rim of the canyon for 800 years. Anthropologists say the Havasupai maintained life by hunting along the plateau during the winter and raising crops and tending orchards in Havasu or Cataract Canyon during the summer.

Recognizing the economic boon called tourism, the Hualapai opened its lands to the public 30 years ago, promoting it as ‘an untouched piece of land where the Grand Canyon could be experienced without the crowds found along the North and South Rims’.  Today’s quarter of a million reservation inhabitants fan out over some 27,000 square miles, most of it in northern Arizona that stretches west to Grand Canyon National Park.

The Grand Canyon is an iconic national park accessible from Kanab, UT

Also present are the Hopi people, one of the oldest-living cultures in documented history, who have resided for the past 2,000 years in the Four Corners region where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet.

Other tribes that have roamed this territory and called parts of the Grand Canyon sacred areas home include the Zuni, Kaibab Paiute, Shivwits Paiute, and San Juan Paiute.

The canyon’s early inhabitants will play a big part in the centennial celebration with year-long special events starting with a Tusayan Community Centennial Celebration in February and leading up to American Indian Heritage Days — and Native American Heritage Month — later in the year.

The event, a celebratory occasion to kick off our centennial year, will feature Park Service and Grand Canyon Conservancy speakers gathered at the Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center Plaza.

In addition to the speeches and musical performances, there will be free cake to enjoy along with the scenery and its centuries of Native American history.

Info at www.GrandCanyon.org