Kill the Indian, Save the Man, 2017
Vinyl, thermochromic ink, charting tape, astro turf, and laser-cut acrylic.
This artwork can be touched. The black bars are coated in ink that turns translucent through body heat. The piece depicts three systems of state-sponsored cultural genocide: Indian Removal Policy, a system that displaced communities from traditional lands onto ever shrinking reservations. With each push of westward expansion, there was a corresponding decimation of native populations. The mass slaughter of the bison, which was endorsed by the US Army, who’s Generals routinely led state sponsored hunting excursions with the express purpose of annihilating the bison under the motto “Kill every buffalo you can! Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone.” And Indian Boarding Schools, where prior to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, native children were rounded up and forcibly held by religious, military, and industrial organizations in boarding schools that systematically eradicated native culture, language, and religion. These histories have been expunged through censorship and propaganda. But these strategies are not just history, they continue through generations, affecting individuals, families, and tribal communities. The effort to exterminate native cultures and lives fails through our continuous resistance.
Commissioned by the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture for Borderlands.