Native Hashtags Exhibit
In this photo, an eagle is seen flying, adorned with the Hiawatha flag and grasping arrows and medicine in his talons and the two-row wampum belt in his beak. This image should look familiar to any U.S. citizen. Still, most do not know that these symbols belonged to the Seneca and native people and that they are not of Roman origin as popularly believed.
In this photo, a recognizable figure is seen decapitated, upside-down with purple and white arrows in his chest, topped with flourishing medicine.
With the current news of statue removal, I showcased the need to decolonize our minds and hearts. Colonization is more than an event that happened it is a way of thinking. This way of thinking is the cause of many inequality issues here in the United States.
In this photo, a single hand is seen with its pinky up and blood measured almost to the tip. I chose this as an image to start the conversation about blood quantum and its effects from both sides, native and non-native. I chose it specifically because when I am approached by someone that mentions they are also part native the statement usually goes ” I’m 1/8th Cherokee” and they hold up their pinky finger as a gesture of measurement. The hand is also gripping a tribal enrollment card, these cards hold all the weight in the minds of some native people as to whether or not someone is native despite the person’s ancestry. The medicine sits boldly across the wrist as a superficial yet meaningful tattoo. Blood quantum was started by the U.S. Govt. as a way to control and take land from native peoples. The enrollment cards were introduced to native peoples in the 1900s and are a form of handheld blood quantum.
Chief Cornplanter, Chief Red Jacket, and Cynthia Jimerson-Jimerson, my personal ancestors are seen drawn in a striking black and white outline.
A hand is seen erasing the drawing, as tears stream from their eyes.
This hand is native and is holding a blood-covered eraser. This is a commentary on the effects of lateral racism and blood quantum. The medicine in this photo is seen recoiling away from the eraser. I wanted to really emphasize the very real harm lateral racism and blood quantum have on natives that are not living on territory or that do not carry an enrollment card. While erasure is happening on both sides (native and non-native) it is sometimes the hardest to get it from your own kin.
a beautiful dual-faced woman is seen staring back at you. Her ancestry is displayed side by side. Many who are called half-breeds are told they must choose a side and sometimes the side is chosen for them through lateral racism. I myself have dealt with either being too native to be white or being too white to be native and made to feel as if a choice has to be made. This photo takes this negative ugly word and shows the beauty and medicine on both sides.
Culture is not a costume
A blonde woman is seen dressed in a stereotypical “native” costume. Her intent is to be a beautiful native maiden or Indian squaw!
She is standing in front of a mirror, not noticing the reflection- a beaten native woman who has reaped the consequences of the blonde’s actions.
Costumes like she is wearing create space for fetishizing native women and creates a very real danger for native women and girls daily. Beyond this it is disrespectful, the blonde is seen wearing a headdress which is akin to stolen valor. The medicine is seen peering out around the mirror in a protective way.
A recognizable Disney princess Matoaka is seen sitting crying as she holds up a mirror that reflects her true self -because she was real. Her mouth adorned with the red hand print- a symbol of our missing, murdered indigenous women and girls. Medicine is seen almost growing from her in an embracive way. Matoaka is considered one of the first MMIW. 40% of the top percentages for sex trafficking is of Native women and girls, fetishizing and the lack of value in our people play a big contribution to these numbers.
The deer woman is an entity feared by native men as she is known to punish and murder men that abuse women and children. She is seen naked, standing guard at the base of the peace tree with the war club in one hand and medicine in the other. Her nakedness shows the strength in the female form and eliminates the forced modesty of many native women. Women are sacred are bodies are not something to be ashamed of. The thoughts of men are not the fault of our anatomy.
Defend The Sacred
Chief Cornplanter’s peace pipe/ tomahawk is seen blade up meaning action, a scene of the natural world reflected in it with medicine wrapped around the hilt. The natural world needs us to stand up and take action. We have one world and it’s our job to take care of it and protect it and keep it going for the next seven generations! Today’s climate change and environmental losses and impacts say that we have not been doing our part.
A snake is seen coiled and ready to strike. The tar-like oiled venom drips from its fangs wilting our medicine.
The skydomes show that the snake is part of the earth but its current uses and planned developments are severely damaging. The image is similar to another’s flag
– Don’t tread on me, don’t put your pipeline in Native land.
We Are Strong
A headdress sits upon the world, it’s band is two-row a treaty about peace and noninterference between the Haudenosaunee and US. The headdress is not a traditional Seneca adornment but the US government refused to speak with our Chiefs unless they wore one.
The medicine is seen blooming out from under the world as if it is a nest the world can safely rest upon.
Before you are various forms of traditional native art, art that started with our ancestors and that we continue to practice and pass down today.