Indigenous Art, Film, and Media
Todd Richardson (Professor, UNO)
Indigenous Pop Art and Reckoning with Settler Colonialism
An exhibition featuring the artistic work of Tom Farris (Otoe-Missouria/Cherokee) will open at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in spring 2022. This will be the first time Farris's work, which challenges static notions of Indigenous culture by blending traditional and pop mythologies together, is shown in Nebraska. This is notable because Nebraska is ancestral home to the Otoe and Farris is a member of the Otoe-Missouri Tribe, yet he has never before set foot in the state. In April 2022, Dina Gilio-Whitaker will visit UNO in conjunction with this exhibition of Farris's work. Author of As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock, Gilio-Whitaker will address the ethics of living on stolen land, providing another opportunity for reckoning with the settler colonialism of the Great Plains. Richardson will discuss both of these events in the context of how Indigenous Pop Art and the Indigenization of pop mythologies offer unique opportunities for reckoning with colonial violence.
George De Medts (Aix-Marseille University, France)
Truth as Weapon and Medicine in Georgina Lightning's Older than America
Older than America (2008) written, produced, directed and starred by Canadian Cree filmmaker, Georgina Lightning, focuses on the devastating consequences of trauma caused by the Native boarding school system in North America. Dedicated to the director's father and inspired by his personal story, the film looks at the young victims of psychological, physical and sexual abuses practiced in these institutions. However, Older than America is not a period drama retelling the story. Instead, Georgina Lightning places the action of her suspense drama in the present, in order to underline the trauma's intergenerational impact. Permeated with Native spirituality, Older than America exemplifies how art could help in healing from the wounds caused by the decades of violence, forced acculturation and assimilation by bringing awareness about the truth and promoting Indigenous traditions.
Clementine Bordeaux (University of California, Los Angeles)
AIM and the Politics of Nostalgia: Indigenous Representation from Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Founded in 1968, the American Indian Movement is a source of complicated nostalgia for Indigenous activists today. AIM orchestrated many actions that remain instructive touchstones, including the 1973 occupation at Wounded Knee, but the organization has also been characterized by a masculinism often found in its iconography. During the 2016 #NoDAPL mobilization, common invocations of AIM by mainstream media revealed the contrast between these moments of struggle. Analyzing this contrast through the visual record, Bordeaux argues that a dual nostalgia for AIM presents an opportunity to work through the colonial imposition of hetero-patriarchal norms. Current Indigenous media-makers have begun the work to demonstrate emancipatory gender politics that provide an elaboration of Indigenous representations of relationality, attesting to the connection between feminist, queer, and other-than-human kinship. Foregrounding the importance of tribal specificity, the author focuses on media produced on and of Lakota tribal homelands.
(Moderator: Rebekka Schlichting)
Part of the Reckoning & Reconciliation on the Great Plains summit
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[00:00:06.283]Hello and welcome, everybody.
[00:00:09.490]My name is Rebekka Schlichting
[00:00:11.680]and I will be moderating today.
[00:00:15.800]I'm a member of the Ioway Tribe.
[00:00:18.290]And I'm coming to you from Omaha, Nebraska today.
[00:00:21.860]I'm here at a conference.
[00:00:24.760]So, Land Acknowledgements is what I'm going to start with.
[00:00:30.850]I am on the unceded lands of the Omaha Tribe
[00:00:34.620]and the current home state of the Pawnee, Ponca, Ioway
[00:00:37.660]Santee, Omaha, Ogallala and Winnebago Tribes in Nebraska.
[00:00:47.453]I'm going to start by introducing our guests,
[00:00:50.090]our very talented guests that we have today.
[00:00:53.230]So, we'll start with Todd Richardson.
[00:00:55.080]Todd Richardson is a professor at UNO
[00:00:58.380]who put together the Indigenous Pop Art and Reckoning
[00:01:02.010]with Settler Colonialism,
[00:01:04.240]an exhibition featuring the artistic work
[00:01:07.200]of Tom Farris in Otoe-Missouria and Cherokee,
[00:01:10.320]which will open at the University of Nebraska at Omaha
[00:01:13.050]in spring 2022.
[00:01:14.950]This will be the first time Farris's work,
[00:01:16.830]which challenges static notions of indigenous culture
[00:01:20.200]by blending traditional and pop mythologies together,
[00:01:23.490]is shown in Nebraska.
[00:01:25.210]This is notable because Nebraska
[00:01:26.850]is the ancestral home to the Otoe
[00:01:29.460]and Farris is a member of the Otoe-Missouria tribe,
[00:01:32.610]yet he has never been,
[00:01:34.840]never foot set in the state,
[00:01:37.250]set foot in the state.
[00:01:38.840]In April, 2022, Dina Gilio-Whitaker will visit UNO
[00:01:46.680]in conjunction with the exhibition of Farris's work.
[00:01:50.240]Author of "As Long as Grass Grows:
[00:01:52.610]The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice
[00:01:55.310]from Colonization to Standing Rock".
[00:01:59.040]Gilio-Whitaker will address
[00:02:01.340]the ethics of living on stolen land,
[00:02:02.860]providing another opportunity for reckoning
[00:02:05.070]with the settler colonialism of the Great Plains.
[00:02:09.160]Richardson will discuss both of these events
[00:02:11.590]in context of how indigenous pop art
[00:02:13.700]and the indigenization of pop mythologies
[00:02:15.930]offer unique opportunities
[00:02:17.680]for reckoning with colonial violence.
[00:02:22.930]And next we have
[00:02:27.190]George De Medts.
[00:02:29.650]You're here, right?
[00:02:31.410]Sorry, I can't see everybody.
[00:02:33.280]Yes, you are.
[00:02:34.113]Okay, I see you now.
[00:02:38.100]Who created "Truth as Weapon and Medicine
[00:02:41.910]in Georgina Lightning's Older Than America".
[00:02:46.087]"Older Than America" 2008 written, produced
[00:02:48.650]and directed and starred by Canadian Cree filmmaker,
[00:02:52.510]which focuses on the devastating consequences of trauma
[00:02:54.990]caused by Native Boarding School Systems in North America,
[00:02:57.660]dedicated to the director's father
[00:02:59.060]and inspired by his personal story.
[00:03:02.540]The film looks at the young victims
[00:03:07.030]of psychological, sexual, physical abuse.
[00:03:12.190]It is not a period drama, retelling the story.
[00:03:14.630]Instead, Georgina Lightning places
[00:03:16.380]the action of her suspense drama in the present
[00:03:19.380]in order to underline the trauma's intergenerational impact.
[00:03:23.250]Permeated with Native spirituality,
[00:03:25.467]"Older Than America" exemplifies
[00:03:27.370]how art could help in healing from the wounds
[00:03:29.970]caused by decades of violence,
[00:03:36.790]acculturation and assimilation
[00:03:41.620]by bringing awareness about the truth
[00:03:45.230]and promoting indigenous tradition.
[00:03:47.610]Bordeaux from university of Kansas,
[00:03:49.370]sorry, California, Los Angeles,
[00:03:53.890]who created "AIM and the Politics of Nostalgia:
[00:03:57.860]from Wounded Knee to Standing Rock".
[00:03:59.870]Founded in 1968, the American Indian Movement
[00:04:02.340]is the source of complicated nostalgia
[00:04:04.040]for indigenous activists today.
[00:04:05.870]AIM created many actions
[00:04:07.910]that remain instructive touchstones,
[00:04:09.770]including the 1973 Occupation at Wounded Knee.
[00:04:13.070]But the organization has also been characterized
[00:04:15.870]by a masculine often found in its iconography.
[00:04:21.270]During the 2016 NoDAPL mobilization
[00:04:25.862](audio echos) invocations (audio echos) by mainstream media
[00:04:32.010]revealed the contrast between these moments of struggle.
[00:04:35.550]In it Bordeaux argues that a dual nostalgia (audio echos)
[00:04:39.400]or aim presents an opportunity to work through
[00:04:42.390]the colonial imposition of hetero-patriarchal norms.
[00:04:45.880]Current indigenous media makers have begun the work
[00:04:48.440]to demonstrate emancipatory gender politics
[00:04:52.070]that provide an elaboration of indigenous representations
[00:04:55.520]of relationality, attesting to the connection
[00:04:58.330]between feminist, queer and other than human kingship.
[00:05:03.570]Foregrounding the importance of tribal specificity,
[00:05:07.150]the author focuses on media produced
[00:05:09.480]on and of the Lakota tribal homelands.
[00:05:13.783]That was a lot of really amazing things
[00:05:15.970]that you all are working on.
[00:05:17.040]So, let's hear more from you all.
[00:05:19.280]I would like you just to take a second
[00:05:22.200]to briefly introduce yourselves
[00:05:24.320]and then talk just a little bit more,
[00:05:26.040]expand a little bit more
[00:05:27.250]on the works that I've introduced for you.
[00:05:32.783]We'll start with you Todd.
[00:05:33.616]And then we'll just go down the line.
[00:05:36.130]So, Todd, George, and then Clementine.
[00:05:38.990]So, we're all gonna introduce ourselves now
[00:05:40.340]before our papers?
[00:05:43.533]I'm Todd Richardson.
[00:05:44.366]I'm a professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
[00:05:46.240]I teach in the Goodrich Scholarship Program,
[00:05:47.860]which is an amazing program
[00:05:49.110]that I'm very proud to be a part of
[00:05:50.240]that we provide full tuition scholarships
[00:05:51.940]to really smart Nebraska residents
[00:05:53.970]who might not otherwise be able to afford college.
[00:05:56.040]And I'm really here to promote two events
[00:05:59.730]that are happening on my campus,
[00:06:00.680]which I'll talk about in just a moment.
[00:06:02.260]And I'm pretty excited to talk about.
[00:06:11.616]I'm a PhD student from Aix-Marseille University in France,
[00:06:15.540]in Southern France.
[00:06:16.570]So, it is my second year of PhD.
[00:06:19.140]And so, I'm focusing my dissertation on indigenous cinema
[00:06:24.850]from the United States and Canada.
[00:06:28.200]And so, "Older Than America"
[00:06:30.060]is one of the movies I'm working on.
[00:06:33.040]And I was very excited to take part of this panel today
[00:06:36.577]and to talk to you about this movie.
[00:06:38.410]If you don't know it yet, it's an amazing piece of art.
[00:06:41.140]So, thank you for the opportunity.
[00:06:45.818](speaking in foreign language)
[00:06:49.058](speaks in foreign language)
[00:06:59.586]I'm an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe
[00:07:02.040]but I grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation
[00:07:04.590]and I'm living here in what is now known as
[00:07:07.860]Rapid City, South Dakota.
[00:07:10.140]I'm a fifth year (laughs) doctoral student at UCLA.
[00:07:13.840]I can't believe I'm a fifth year.
[00:07:15.260]So, I'm in the field right now finishing up research
[00:07:18.730]and hopefully will be finishing my dissertation
[00:07:22.100]by the end of this year and be on the job market
[00:07:25.400]and all of that.
[00:07:26.340]But yeah, I'm excited to share a snippet of my essay today,
[00:07:30.100]which will be published in May of this year
[00:07:34.600]in the International Journal of Communication.
[00:07:37.430]So, been working on this paper for about four years.
[00:07:40.100]So, (laughs) I'm glad to be done with it
[00:07:43.040]and excited to share it with you all.
[00:07:49.680]Apparently I've been experiencing unstable internet.
[00:07:53.060]Can you all hear me okay?
[00:07:55.770]Sorry about that.
[00:07:57.720]We can continue.
[00:07:59.230]So, if each of you wanna talk a little bit
[00:08:02.840]about the work you're presenting just a little bit
[00:08:06.550]and then well, I have,
[00:08:11.676]should I read my paper now or?
[00:08:20.030]I'm gonna share my screen hopefully.
[00:08:26.860]And hopefully everybody's got a black screen.
[00:08:28.770]I hope that's what's going on.
[00:08:30.720]So, I'm gonna talk about Native pop art today.
[00:08:34.230]And just gimme a second to,
[00:08:37.570]And I'd like to start by contextualizing
[00:08:39.140]my relationship to it,
[00:08:41.110]which is that I approach the Native pop art movement.
[00:08:43.840]and it is very much a movement
[00:08:45.400]with indigenous artists across the continent,
[00:08:47.120]creating challenging and sophisticated pop works.
[00:08:49.830]I approach this movement as a folklorist
[00:08:52.350]only not in the folklorist way that most would assume.
[00:08:55.890]Pop art, as I see it is folklore.
[00:08:58.940]Now, folklore, as a term, can refer to either
[00:09:00.700]the expressive customs of a group
[00:09:02.210]or the study of such expressive customs.
[00:09:04.240]And when I say pop art is folklore,
[00:09:05.610]I actually invoke both meanings.
[00:09:06.950]It's something I've written about
[00:09:08.730]with varying degrees of success,
[00:09:10.130]throughout my career.
[00:09:11.370]But I'm not gonna go too deeply into it right now.
[00:09:14.010]I'll just leave it at pop art,
[00:09:15.630]particularly the pop art of Andy Warhol,
[00:09:18.000]can be read ethnographically,
[00:09:19.910]in that it collects and represents
[00:09:21.320]the everyday informal customs of normative,
[00:09:23.750]primarily white postmodern consumer culture.
[00:09:27.440]But really this is to say that my folkloric engagement
[00:09:29.730]with Native pop art springs from the pop part,
[00:09:32.160]not the Native part.
[00:09:35.320]But it was this interest in pop art
[00:09:36.800]that led my well intentioned,
[00:09:38.730]but maybe foolish friends at the Willa Cather Center,
[00:09:41.150]the National Willa Cather Center,
[00:09:42.180]to ask if I'd be interested in helping put together
[00:09:44.240]an exhibition of Native pop art,
[00:09:46.750]after I had complimented one such work
[00:09:48.830]in a previous exhibition.
[00:09:51.200]The request thrilled me
[00:09:53.160]but not nearly as much as it terrified me.
[00:09:56.280]I'm a acutely aware of,
[00:09:57.880]and frankly implicated in, colonialist practice
[00:10:00.560]because I am a folklorist.
[00:10:02.190]My field is colonialist in its origin
[00:10:05.000]and has never, indeed may never,
[00:10:06.490]extricate itself from its corrupt genesis.
[00:10:09.760]Indeed the primary reason I initially
[00:10:11.530]wrote about pop artist folklore
[00:10:12.970]was because I sought to defy the patronizing,
[00:10:15.560]acquisitive, colonialist character of folklore studies.
[00:10:18.360]And so rather than study other people's meaning,
[00:10:21.010]I sought to find the fullness within.
[00:10:23.830]And I looked to it and found it in the work of Andy Warhol.
[00:10:27.190]In short, white guy curating an exhibition of Native art
[00:10:30.400]was not okay.
[00:10:32.370]But I did eventually agree,
[00:10:35.130]but only because someone from the pop art community
[00:10:37.460]did the actual curating,
[00:10:39.040]which allowed me to just be a facilitator.
[00:10:41.330]I met Tom Farris,
[00:10:42.940]whose work I'm gonna discuss in just a moment.
[00:10:45.760]Tom is Otoe-Missouria and Cherokee.
[00:10:48.130]And in addition to being a wickedly smart artist,
[00:10:50.960]he has years of experience managing galleries.
[00:10:53.190]At present, he is the,
[00:10:54.500]he works at the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City.
[00:10:57.930]And despite not knowing me at all,
[00:11:00.000]he agreed, much to my delight,
[00:11:02.600]And that's how we came to collaborate
[00:11:03.830]on "49 Minutes of Fame
[00:11:05.240]An Exhibition of Native Pop Art"
[00:11:06.710]at the National Willa Cather Center.
[00:11:08.620]And I'd also like to take a moment to thank,
[00:11:11.300]to recognize the essential role that Alise Perault played
[00:11:13.930]at the National Willa Cather Center.
[00:11:15.780]She kept the exhibit on track
[00:11:17.030]and thank you Alise, wherever you are.
[00:11:20.040]Now, this exhibit featured the work of indigenous artists
[00:11:22.290]from across North America, 12 in total.
[00:11:24.580]All of whom create pop art broadly understood.
[00:11:27.840]Some re-imagining indigenous themes in a pop style,
[00:11:30.490]such as Johnnie Diacon here,
[00:11:32.040]who created an art deco poster concert poster
[00:11:34.590]for traditional Native ceremonies.
[00:11:37.240]And then others moved in a slightly different direction
[00:11:40.240]by indigenizing pop culture.
[00:11:42.150]So, this is Chase Earles, who exhibited "Sky Horse II".
[00:11:45.330]It's a recreation of the Millennium Falcon from "Star Wars"
[00:11:48.000]in the style of Kettle Pottery.
[00:11:50.480]And I believe that Chase has a piece presently on display
[00:11:55.030]in the Great Plains Museum,
[00:11:56.420]as part of the Contemporary Indigeneity Exhibit.
[00:11:58.380]You should check it out.
[00:11:59.213]Chase's work is fantastic.
[00:12:02.090]And then just some other works.
[00:12:03.800]Marlena Myles, this
[00:12:04.633]"Unktomi & the Copyrights of the Dakota/Lakota Language",
[00:12:08.960]which narrativizes, visually, the struggle
[00:12:12.033]for language preservation and ownership,
[00:12:16.310]that I just think is an incredibly striking piece.
[00:12:18.840]And then Katie Dorame had this amazing piece.
[00:12:20.877]"I Am Not Rebecca",
[00:12:22.070]where she recasts the Pocahontas narrative
[00:12:24.820]as like a Gothic romance in the style
[00:12:26.780]of "Rebecca", the novel and the Hitchcock movie.
[00:12:29.640]There's a whole series.
[00:12:30.580]Totally check it out.
[00:12:31.413]It's fantastic stuff.
[00:12:34.632]But this exhibit feature,
[00:12:37.010]Taken as a whole,
[00:12:37.900]Sorry, I lost my place.
[00:12:39.080]The work unsettles stereotypical notions
[00:12:40.800]of Native people and culture,
[00:12:41.820]offering a complex and challenging representation
[00:12:44.110]of North American indigeneity and post modernity.
[00:12:47.090]And the exhibits occurrence in Nebraska
[00:12:48.620]was especially important in this regard
[00:12:50.450]as the exhibits introduction phrased it,
[00:12:53.110]while Nebraska is home to many Native tribes,
[00:12:54.960]most were dislocated and forcefully removed
[00:12:56.770]by American settler colonialism.
[00:12:58.720]Consequently, the diversity, sophistication and intelligence
[00:13:01.460]of contemporary Native culture
[00:13:02.600]is not as visible here as it should be.
[00:13:04.710]So, in "49 Minutes of Fame"
[00:13:05.950]the present inhabitants of Nebraska
[00:13:08.090]have a chance to interact with contemporary work
[00:13:10.050]by the original inhabitants of this country.
[00:13:11.780]Work that, as often as not, speaks through
[00:13:14.030]the shared mythology of pop art culture.
[00:13:17.490]And this is a picture of students engaging with the exhibit.
[00:13:20.270]It was a real challenge putting it on during the pandemic
[00:13:23.380]but it was an extraordinary success.
[00:13:26.400]But in the process of putting the exhibition together,
[00:13:29.060]I learned that one of the primary reasons
[00:13:30.990]Tom agreed to collaborate with me
[00:13:32.920]was that the show was in Nebraska
[00:13:34.360]and he had never been to Nebraska before.
[00:13:36.950]He was curious about the place because Tom's Otoe
[00:13:38.597]and that means he has an ancestral connection to Nebraska,
[00:13:41.280]geographically, as well as linguistically.
[00:13:43.220]The name Nebraska being taken from the Otoe language.
[00:13:47.470]Indeed, this ancestral connection led Tom to agree
[00:13:49.880]to a solo exhibition of his work
[00:13:51.560]in the Osborne Gallery at UNO's Criss Library,
[00:13:53.700]an exhibit which is presently on display.
[00:13:55.300]It's no longer future tense.
[00:13:56.900]It is on display now.
[00:13:58.830]And I think it exemplifies the theme of this conference,
[00:14:01.750]reckoning and reconciliation.
[00:14:03.620]Again, if I can take a moment to thank Claire Straub,
[00:14:06.400]who has been instrumental in keeping the exhibit going.
[00:14:09.180]And it's just been fantastic.
[00:14:10.500]Thank you Claire.
[00:14:13.653]Okay so, consider this work that Tom made for the exhibit
[00:14:16.840]where he reworks a vintage roadmap of Nebraska.
[00:14:19.617]And it represents reconciliation
[00:14:21.340]in that it is part of an exhibition of work
[00:14:23.620]by contemporary Otoe artist
[00:14:24.950]in a region the Otoe were forcefully removed from.
[00:14:28.340]And the Otoe words that Farris adds to it read "Flat Water",
[00:14:31.040]which is what Nebraska means in the language,
[00:14:33.380]and then "Home of the Otoe-Missouria".
[00:14:35.480]But then the works title, and Tom uses titles brilliantly,
[00:14:40.220]It presents a reckoning.
[00:14:41.690]It's forcing the current settlers of the region,
[00:14:43.890]people like myself,
[00:14:44.723]to confront the reality of our corrupt inheritance in place.
[00:14:49.250]But here's another Nebraska piece that Tom did that's fun.
[00:14:52.640]Here Tom pays tribute to Nebraska.
[00:14:55.010]For those who may not know,
[00:14:56.100]Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska.
[00:14:58.040]It's like the state soft drink.
[00:15:00.670]And he did this work on historic ledger paper.
[00:15:02.610]It reads, "Oh yeah" and "Red Water" in Otoe.
[00:15:07.550]But I'd also like at this moment to point out here
[00:15:10.170]that works like this speak to and resonate
[00:15:11.820]with Native audiences in different ways.
[00:15:13.770]Ways that I'm just not capable of talking about
[00:15:15.753]because I'm not part of that audience.
[00:15:17.770]I just wanna leave it at,
[00:15:18.660]I wanna point out that Farris's work
[00:15:20.240]is aesthetically and rhetorically nimble.
[00:15:23.545]That it's sending different messages to different audiences
[00:15:26.300]through this, a single work.
[00:15:27.540]It's really, really smart stuff.
[00:15:30.330]Now, in kind of assessing this stuff,
[00:15:32.040]I'm kind of thinking where it fits.
[00:15:34.310]It's too easy to say that Tom Farris
[00:15:37.070]brings an outsider perspective to pop culture.
[00:15:39.330]Too easy in that such an assessment
[00:15:40.918]conforms to familiar colonialist thinking.
[00:15:44.760]The art of Tom Farris exhibits
[00:15:46.920]deep expertise in pop culture mythologies.
[00:15:49.550]Truth be told Tom's familiarity of pop culture
[00:15:51.940]is as deep as mine.
[00:15:53.260]And pop culture is the only mythology I know.
[00:15:55.160]I know it intimately.
[00:15:57.590]But he's communicating through
[00:15:58.840]this mythology of pop culture.
[00:16:00.180]And Tom makes the contemporary indigenous experience
[00:16:02.560]intelligible to non-Native audiences.
[00:16:06.073]I'm working on this analogy,
[00:16:07.860]but it strikes me as like William Apess' landmark
[00:16:10.857]"An Indians Looking Glass for the White Man" in this regard
[00:16:13.110]that Apess used Christian mythology and vocabulary
[00:16:15.700]to convey the devastation of settler colonialism
[00:16:19.220]to white Christian colonists,
[00:16:20.780]Farris is using the mythology
[00:16:22.040]and rhetorical customs of pop culture
[00:16:23.630]to convey settler colonialism's ongoing reality.
[00:16:26.670]It's, again, very, very savvy rhetorical move.
[00:16:31.230]But I think it's equally convenient and equally inaccurate
[00:16:34.510]to cast Farris's work as
[00:16:36.070]an ironic inversion of appropriation.
[00:16:39.040]It goes without saying
[00:16:40.610]that pop culture appropriations of Native culture
[00:16:42.780]are so ubiquitous as to be invisible,
[00:16:45.370]like power lines and other infrastructure elements
[00:16:47.660]that we train ourselves not to see.
[00:16:50.004]Indigeneity is used throughout pop culture
[00:16:52.040]to convey spirituality, environmentalism, authenticity,
[00:16:54.830]in all manner of values that modernity celebrates
[00:16:57.470]without actually supporting.
[00:17:00.555]And so, it's tempting to say that Farris's work
[00:17:02.434]appropriates in reverse.
[00:17:04.060]That he's taking the other's culture
[00:17:05.940]and using it for his own purposes,
[00:17:08.090]but that totally denies Tom his rightful stake
[00:17:11.080]in pop culture.
[00:17:12.330]That it belongs to him as much as it belongs to anyone else.
[00:17:15.550]As he too is a post-modern American consumer.
[00:17:18.670]And so, like he and me are the same in this regard.
[00:17:20.910]As much as his work speaks to me as a settler colonial,
[00:17:23.800]its symbols and color palette
[00:17:26.200]speak to me as a member of generation X.
[00:17:30.540]And also, well,
[00:17:32.260]and at this point I wanna kind of talk about like,
[00:17:33.840]like I said,
[00:17:34.673]I come to this as somebody more familiar with pop art,
[00:17:36.650]that there are significant differences.
[00:17:38.560]That Farris's work and Native pop art in general
[00:17:40.630]share an aesthetic with institutional pop art, a la Warhol,
[00:17:44.080]but there are significant differences as well.
[00:17:46.250]For example, Warhol denied pop iconography its meaning.
[00:17:49.590]He stripped it down to nothingness.
[00:17:51.610]Whereas Farris is using pop iconography
[00:17:53.940]to carry fugitive meaning,
[00:17:55.760]using it as he describes it in this artist statement
[00:17:58.110]as a Trojan horse,
[00:17:59.570]which is in itself an ironic repurposing of Western legend.
[00:18:03.610]But more significant to the present discussion,
[00:18:06.860]when I set out to read Warhol's pop art ethnographically,
[00:18:09.290]I was doing something novel,
[00:18:10.970]working against conventional readings,
[00:18:12.430]but Native art is invariably read ethnographically.
[00:18:15.160]The moment the work of a Native artist
[00:18:17.900]is exhibited or marked as such,
[00:18:21.400]it takes on an ethnographic dimension
[00:18:23.420]becoming an expression of a group, not just a person.
[00:18:25.620]And Tom has tremendous fun with this dimension,
[00:18:27.610]particularly with this piece.
[00:18:28.470]Now, I've been able to witness a number of people
[00:18:31.080]interacting with the exhibit
[00:18:32.370]and people gravitate toward this one.
[00:18:34.021]They're like, oh my God, it's so beautiful.
[00:18:35.830]In large part because it fulfills expectations.
[00:18:37.900]Like when they're like, oh,
[00:18:38.733]I'm gonna see the work of a Native artist.
[00:18:39.740]And then you look at the title and it's
[00:18:41.617]"Paint Buffalo and You'll Have a Career".
[00:18:43.690]And as Tom describes it there, it's probably too small.
[00:18:47.240]He says, I have worked in the Indian art world
[00:18:48.820]for over two decades and occasionally the artist I represent
[00:18:51.300]will ask me for advice.
[00:18:52.420]And at one point I told an artist
[00:18:53.550]who asked how to be successful,
[00:18:54.940]paint me a buffalo piece and I'll sell it,
[00:18:56.340]which I did almost immediately.
[00:18:57.970]Said the process repeated until it became an inside joke.
[00:19:00.460]And it's the dilemma of Native artists, as he puts it,
[00:19:03.030]that you can create expressive, thought provoking
[00:19:05.150]and emotionally impactful work
[00:19:06.700]or paint buffalo and make money.
[00:19:08.570]And that it's a difficult line to walk.
[00:19:10.890]Which he pulls off brilliantly in here with the work.
[00:19:13.180]And then the title.
[00:19:17.270]it's a brilliant performance in my estimation.
[00:19:19.940]But it's this ethnographic element
[00:19:21.890]that is incredibly complicated and sophisticated
[00:19:24.470]and that I think Native pop art is doing things with.
[00:19:27.190]And by way of conclusion, just,
[00:19:29.510]I want, like,
[00:19:30.890]It strikes me,
[00:19:31.723]It reminds me of something that James Clifford wrote about
[00:19:33.720]called "Ethnographic Surrealism",
[00:19:36.620]which was a word that he used for
[00:19:38.410]like an Avant Gard Milu that traveled
[00:19:40.100]from Paris to New York, between the wars.
[00:19:41.740]And at that time, ethnography
[00:19:42.937]had not yet been institutionalized,
[00:19:45.260]at least not as we think of it today.
[00:19:46.990]It was a field in the process of becoming
[00:19:49.260]without clearly defined methods or mission.
[00:19:52.350]And he saw it as ethnographic evidence
[00:19:54.710]and ethnographic attitude functioning in the service
[00:19:57.170]of a subversive cultural criticism.
[00:20:00.570]And then simultaneously like,
[00:20:02.010]we need to rethink ethnography,
[00:20:03.320]we need to rethink surrealism,
[00:20:04.610]which has taken on this meaning
[00:20:05.860]and has just become shorthand for weird.
[00:20:08.350]But surrealism is a complex of ideas,
[00:20:11.360]many which grate against one another
[00:20:12.820]and which cannot be encapsulated
[00:20:14.090]in a single figure statement.
[00:20:15.430]It's a movement intent on disrupting order
[00:20:20.440]for the purposes of right now.
[00:20:23.800]And Clifford saw ethnography and surrealism
[00:20:26.060]as working in concert,
[00:20:27.110]particularly in the 20th century and Europe
[00:20:28.580]between the wars.
[00:20:29.540]And that ethnographers were looking for challenges
[00:20:33.180]to a corrupt Western order
[00:20:35.190]and surrealists were looking for genuine challenges
[00:20:37.330]to a corrupt Western rationality.
[00:20:39.660]And that they were combining their forces literal.
[00:20:41.970]Like ethnographic journals published works by surrealists
[00:20:44.710]and surrealists journals published work by ethnographers.
[00:20:47.570]That that's what he's talking about
[00:20:48.430]when he is talking about ethnographic realism.
[00:20:50.710]And I think that's often,
[00:20:52.490]I'm beginning to speculate that that's what's going on
[00:20:55.130]in a lot of his work.
[00:20:56.095]And so, like one of the last pieces I'll talk about
[00:20:58.370]is this fascinating piece that Tom did
[00:21:00.180]called Discuss What's in Your,
[00:21:01.740]it's "What's in Your Wallet".
[00:21:03.714]And that it was inspired by his explanations of CDIB cards.
[00:21:06.480]As he put it, a CDIB
[00:21:07.690]or Certified Degree of Indian Blood
[00:21:09.100]demonstrates the blood quantum
[00:21:10.250]of the tribe of the car cardholder.
[00:21:12.280]And that people are unaware that these exist
[00:21:14.300]and that he then reimagine them for other ethnic groups.
[00:21:17.850]And so the top one that I've kind of enlarged
[00:21:19.580]is Howard David Jones member of the Anglo-Saxon Tribe.
[00:21:22.600]And what this work does is that it exoticizes the familiar
[00:21:26.920]and familiarizes the exotic,
[00:21:28.320]exactly what ethnographic surrealism does.
[00:21:30.440]And that I think it genuinely
[00:21:31.990]challenges people's notions, expectations.
[00:21:34.730]I think it's really smart.
[00:21:35.791]I think it's really, really smart.
[00:21:38.812]But I don't wanna take up all the time.
[00:21:41.843]Well, actually, this is one last piece
[00:21:43.120]that I just wanna point out that is
[00:21:46.280]where he recasts manifest destiny as a slot machine,
[00:21:50.487]"Something from Nothing",
[00:21:51.950]commenting upon Native gaming and all kinds of things.
[00:21:54.790]Tom's work is like I said, incredibly sophisticated.
[00:21:58.050]But you should come to Omaha to see his exhibit,
[00:22:00.470]which will be on,
[00:22:01.303]if you are in the area,
[00:22:02.136]it'll be on display through the end of April.
[00:22:04.990]And you can stop by for some reckoning and reconciliation.
[00:22:08.800]You should consider coming on Monday
[00:22:10.620]and then sticking around for Dina Gilio-Whitaker.
[00:22:12.850]She's gonna have a talk at 6:00 PM
[00:22:14.040]in UNO's Community Engagement Center,
[00:22:15.860]which is right across from the library.
[00:22:18.350]And she's going to discuss Tom's work
[00:22:20.530]in light of legitimacy, belonging and accountability
[00:22:23.714]in settler colonialism.
[00:22:28.400]And if you can't make it then,
[00:22:29.800]Tom will be in Omaha April 29th
[00:22:32.050]for a meet and greet at the library
[00:22:33.630]and feel free to reach out to me.
[00:22:34.910]Contact me if you would like to go
[00:22:36.230]or if you'd like to be part of any of it.
[00:22:38.330]Thank you so much.
[00:22:39.163]It's really cool stuff, I think.
[00:22:40.320]And I'm really happy to share it with all of you.
[00:22:45.689]Thank you so much.
[00:22:46.522]We're gonna move on to,
[00:22:47.355]I'm sorry, George,
[00:22:48.188]I did not get your pronunciation of your name.
[00:22:51.020]Maybe it's Jorge's.
[00:22:51.930]I don't know.
[00:22:52.763]But you can tell us and the floor,
[00:22:55.490]I'm always expecting people to have a hard time
[00:22:57.270]with my last name, actually.
[00:22:58.990]So, it's funny people have a hard time with my first name.
[00:23:03.320]It is George.
[00:23:04.153]Yeah, it is George.
[00:23:04.986]So, not too challenging actually.
[00:23:06.720]But I know it's confusing sometimes.
[00:23:10.380]So, I will share my screen as well.
[00:23:16.310]And please let me know if you're
[00:23:18.080]not seeing my PowerPoint right now.
[00:23:23.690]Should be fine.
[00:23:25.970]So, I will actually repeat the introduction
[00:23:30.870]you gave on my paper since it's actually part of it.
[00:23:34.900]Okay so, let's start.
[00:23:40.530]So, hi again, everyone.
[00:23:42.760]And welcome to my presentation titled
[00:23:44.807]"Truth as Weapon and Medicine
[00:23:46.280]in Georgia Lightning's Older Than America" from 2008.
[00:23:52.570]So, "Older Than America", written, produced,
[00:23:55.140]directed and starred by Canadian Cree filmmaker,
[00:23:58.630]focuses on the devastating consequences of trauma
[00:24:01.260]caused by the Native Boarding School System
[00:24:03.100]in North America.
[00:24:04.830]It is dedicated to the director's father
[00:24:06.980]and inspired by his personal story.
[00:24:09.370]The film evokes with forced children,
[00:24:11.070]victims of psychological, physical
[00:24:12.990]and sexual abuse is practiced in these institutions.
[00:24:17.380]Georgina Lightning places the action of her suspense drama
[00:24:20.030]in the present in order to underline
[00:24:22.170]the trauma's intergenerational impact.
[00:24:24.540]The protagonist, young Ojibwa teacher, Rain,
[00:24:27.090]who lives on the Fond Du Lac Reservation in Minnesota,
[00:24:29.760]is haunted by the visions of children
[00:24:31.780]buried under the building of the abandoned boarding school
[00:24:34.640]and the forest nearby.
[00:24:37.010]Remitted with Native spirituality,
[00:24:38.907]"Older Than America" exemplifies how art
[00:24:41.220]could help in the difficult process of healing
[00:24:43.370]from the wounds caused by the decades of violence,
[00:24:46.090]forced acculturation and assimilation
[00:24:48.640]by bringing awareness about the truth
[00:24:50.380]and promoting indigenous traditions.
[00:24:59.270]As the lack of public awareness and recognition
[00:25:01.800]of the damages done to indigenous people
[00:25:03.600]continues to affect their communities,
[00:25:05.650]the films aim is also educational,
[00:25:07.550]as Lightning seeks to inform
[00:25:08.890]both Native and non-Native viewers
[00:25:11.190]about the truth of residential schools
[00:25:13.340]and help us understand the consequences
[00:25:15.540]of the abomination perpetrated in these institutions
[00:25:18.430]and their impact on later generations.
[00:25:26.850]Even though she seems to be a self-confident young woman,
[00:25:29.910]Rain is troubled by strange dreams and visions.
[00:25:33.120]Expressed in her visions,
[00:25:34.940]Rain's anxiety demonstrates that fears and anguish
[00:25:37.730]resulting from the traumatic events from the past
[00:25:40.030]have been internalized by the protagonist,
[00:25:42.720]passing from generation to generation
[00:25:45.070]and thus becoming what is known as intergenerational trauma.
[00:25:49.258]Unacknowledged, Rain's grief remains unresolved
[00:25:52.000]and continues to disturb the young woman's life.
[00:25:55.380]She's anxious about her mother's mental illness,
[00:25:58.010]which keeps her in a stationary catatonic state.
[00:26:01.840]We see through flashbacks in Rain's visions,
[00:26:04.280]the mechanisms that pushed Barbara, her aunt,
[00:26:07.420]to conform to the requirements of the boarding school.
[00:26:09.820]Conformism was her strategy to survive.
[00:26:13.400]We also see Irene, Rain's mother, at school
[00:26:16.790]being punished for not singing in the choir
[00:26:18.970]and using her Native language.
[00:26:20.730]The nun takes her to the bathroom
[00:26:22.710]and puts a bar of soap in her mouth.
[00:26:26.010]In her dream, Rain finds clues to her uneasiness
[00:26:29.320]and the truth about the Catholic intrusion in Native life.
[00:26:34.207]She begins to understand that her mother had suffered
[00:26:36.550]and that her illness could be not congenital
[00:26:39.710]but resulting from traumatic ill-treatments
[00:26:42.200]that accompanied forced acculturation.
[00:26:51.640]School property becomes a central issue
[00:26:54.790]of the election campaign going on throughout the film,
[00:26:58.800]reflecting the ongoing struggles for preservation
[00:27:01.140]or exploitation of Native lands
[00:27:02.880]and the lack of respect for sacred places,
[00:27:05.470]such as the cemetery.
[00:27:07.110]Moreover, the destruction of the,
[00:27:09.450]as they say, "old school" and the cemetery
[00:27:12.870]and their replacement by new buildings
[00:27:14.460]mean the erasure of all clues of past events
[00:27:16.737]and all traces of memory.
[00:27:18.820]The electoral subplot allows Lightning
[00:27:20.870]to discuss the rampant passivity
[00:27:22.570]and apathy of indigenous communities
[00:27:24.490]that Steve Klamath, a Native American mayoral candidate,
[00:27:28.980]and which are our demonstrations
[00:27:30.370]of the impact of all kinds of oppressions,
[00:27:32.600]including boarding school experience.
[00:27:38.230]Thus in Lightning's film,
[00:27:39.780]if Irene and Rain stand for
[00:27:41.560]the direct and indirect victims,
[00:27:43.530]the passivity of the majority of the people
[00:27:45.130]living on the reservation,
[00:27:46.720]their conscious or unconscious complicity
[00:27:48.910]with the oppressor are also results
[00:27:50.760]of the decades of forced assimilation.
[00:27:54.820]The site of the "old school"
[00:27:56.310]becomes a subject of interest for Luke Patterson,
[00:27:58.550]a government geologist who comes from Minneapolis
[00:28:00.860]to investigate a reported earthquake on the reservation.
[00:28:04.740]Through Luke's investigations,
[00:28:06.310]Lightning informs the audience
[00:28:07.530]about dead and missing children
[00:28:09.190]while representing these victims
[00:28:10.760]of the boarding school system visually on screen.
[00:28:14.570]Thus when Luke arrives at the place
[00:28:16.080]where the earthquake occurred,
[00:28:17.530]children in uniforms,
[00:28:19.070]look out the window of the former boarding school.
[00:28:22.790]In this scene, as in the entire film,
[00:28:26.880]suspense created by
[00:28:31.500]the authorities actions and efforts
[00:28:34.770]to protect the secrets about the school
[00:28:36.580]is coupled with the spiritual presence of their victims.
[00:28:44.035]The inclusion of supernatural elements
[00:28:45.530]in the otherwise realistic plot
[00:28:47.120]allows the filmmaker to represent what Michelle Raheja calls
[00:28:49.770]core principles of Native spirituality.
[00:28:52.970]Through magical realism in her film,
[00:28:57.290]Lightning incorporates elements of indigenous cosmology.
[00:29:00.870]So, the man from Rain's dreams who follows and observes her
[00:29:04.237]and the other characters secretly,
[00:29:06.070]evokes the fear of a trickster coming to the village
[00:29:08.920]in order to disrupt the everyday life of its inhabitants
[00:29:11.800]and make them wonder about what is going wrong.
[00:29:14.330]And finally find out some hidden truths.
[00:29:18.040]Her Native spirituality provides Lightning
[00:29:19.920]with powerful means to visually represent
[00:29:22.070]her character's trouble on screen
[00:29:24.160]and subconscious at work from informulated questionings
[00:29:27.130]about Irene's illness to clear awareness
[00:29:29.350]of somber machinations intended to silence
[00:29:31.270]both Rain and her mother
[00:29:32.620]and prevent them from revealing the truth
[00:29:34.540]about the atrocities that took place at the boarding school.
[00:29:43.920]Rain's visions revealed that Irene is one of the victims
[00:29:45.960]of the Boarding School System
[00:29:47.050]who has probably been silenced
[00:29:48.710]to prevent her from testifying.
[00:29:51.390]Her aunt Barbara, who is also nicknamed Apple,
[00:29:54.910]has become Father Bartoli's tool
[00:29:56.980]in his somber machination to silence Irene,
[00:29:59.230]her sister and later Rain, her niece.
[00:30:01.860]Father Bartoli, the Priest,
[00:30:03.660]stands for all the representatives of the school staff
[00:30:06.110]and therefore, of the institution,
[00:30:08.530]trying to protect the secret
[00:30:10.000]of what is part of colonial genocide.
[00:30:12.777]"Older Than America" denounces the violence
[00:30:15.060]surrounding the issue of the boarding schools
[00:30:16.850]through the authorities actions through Rain's visions
[00:30:19.900]but also, explicitly, through the words of the medicine man
[00:30:23.750]who summarizes the history of the boarding schools,
[00:30:26.570]their essence and their impact on Native peoples
[00:30:29.610]in an insightful dialogue with Luke Paterson.
[00:30:33.280]So, Luke says, "Whatever happened at that school?"
[00:30:37.493]And then Pete, the medicine man, responds
[00:30:40.690]"Kill the Indian, save the man.
[00:30:42.737]"That was their motto.
[00:30:44.187]"They tried to beat the Indian right out of us.
[00:30:46.597]"There are two ways to conquer a nation,
[00:30:48.747]"kill 'em or take away everything
[00:30:50.397]"that defines who they are."
[00:30:54.519]And then Luke responds, "Sounds like a Holocaust."
[00:31:00.710]So, acknowledging the truth and ending the public denial
[00:31:03.530]are the first steps in the process of healing Native peoples
[00:31:06.790]and restoring their identity.
[00:31:15.267]At the hospital, the spirit of her uncle
[00:31:17.310]helps Rain to escape
[00:31:19.220]and Lightning uses magical realism to indicate
[00:31:21.420]that in Native spirituality,
[00:31:22.750]people can find strength to act.
[00:31:24.800]The film clearly shows that alongside material evidence,
[00:31:27.960]spiritual strength and support are needed
[00:31:30.130]in the effort to reveal the truth
[00:31:31.560]about boarding school's history,
[00:31:33.040]designate those responsible
[00:31:34.650]and begin the difficult process of healing.
[00:31:37.730]At home again, Rain dreams of the children
[00:31:39.950]at the boarding school.
[00:31:41.550]In a dazing rhythm created by a skillful editing,
[00:31:43.930]which connects the scenes that last only a few seconds,
[00:31:46.480]the images follow one another
[00:31:47.900]and with great bonus and clarity,
[00:31:49.937]"Older Than America" achieves to denounce
[00:31:51.670]physical and sexual abuses inflicted on children
[00:31:54.200]between the walls of the school.
[00:31:58.320]Into the school's basement, Father Bartoli
[00:32:00.210]secretly follows her in attempts to choke her
[00:32:02.220]but at this moment, the spirit of her uncle appears
[00:32:04.620]and saves Rain.
[00:32:06.160]The spirits of the dead children from the boarding school
[00:32:08.300]come back to life and with Walter, the spirit of her uncle,
[00:32:11.910]all together confront Father Bartoli
[00:32:14.390]until he begs for pardon,
[00:32:15.680]recognizing his faults before dying.
[00:32:19.090]Animating the spirits of the victims
[00:32:20.580]in "Older Than America"
[00:32:21.870]indicates that they are not forgotten,
[00:32:23.610]that their memory is still alive
[00:32:24.970]in the hearts of the survivors
[00:32:26.540]and those who come after
[00:32:28.210]and that there is no prescription
[00:32:29.500]for the crimes committed against them.
[00:32:31.290]What they're asking is that the crimes be recognized
[00:32:33.520]and the culprits designated
[00:32:35.120]and that the latter recognize their responsibilities.
[00:32:37.790]With the death of the Priest, Lightning condemns the crimes
[00:32:40.630]and makes it clear that this should not happen again.
[00:32:50.060]By including Native ceremonies that frame her film,
[00:32:52.450]but also explicitly through the speech of her characters,
[00:32:55.400]Lightning calls for a return to traditions
[00:32:57.570]as a way of healing.
[00:32:59.460]If the Sundance ceremony opening the film indicates
[00:33:02.100]that the story is grounded
[00:33:03.100]in a specific history and culture,
[00:33:05.610]towards the films end, the medicine man
[00:33:07.910]organizes a purifying ceremony for Rain.
[00:33:10.300]That once again invites us to witness some details
[00:33:13.010]of the sacred rituals.
[00:33:15.130]Walter appears in the body of the medicine man
[00:33:17.450]and thus can speak to Rain.
[00:33:19.790]His words underline the importance of spirituality
[00:33:22.390]and kinship in the process of healing,
[00:33:25.100]reminding their role as core elements
[00:33:26.910]of the process of resistance and survival.
[00:33:31.060]Georgina Lightning chooses the spirits of the ancestors
[00:33:33.490]to represent the presence of what is lost
[00:33:35.610]in the inner life of her heroine.
[00:33:39.040]Thus through Native spirituality
[00:33:40.430]Rain can find Irene's lost memories and hear Walter's words.
[00:33:44.260]Emphasizing the role of dreams and spirits,
[00:33:46.220]Lightning's film contributes to the reinvigoration
[00:33:49.000]of the Native worldview.
[00:33:51.160]Then Walter talks about forgiveness is necessary
[00:33:53.850]for allowing healthy and positive self restoration.
[00:33:57.620]His speech is not about hate nor vengeance,
[00:34:00.870]as these lead to a self-destructive state of mind,
[00:34:03.160]his words invite for restoring community ties
[00:34:05.960]and returning to tribal spirituality.
[00:34:08.480]As he says, "These things are older than America."
[00:34:13.660]However, it is still compromised by the legacy
[00:34:16.110]of the boarding school experience.
[00:34:22.300]The idea of cooperation is developed throughout the movie,
[00:34:26.860]especially through the character of Luke Patterson.
[00:34:30.330]Rain's energetic and that her main action,
[00:34:32.410]supported by her friends,
[00:34:33.830]provides proof of the survival of indigenous people.
[00:34:36.780]In the representation of Lightning's characters
[00:34:38.830]as modern peoples able to evolve and act
[00:34:41.420]and looking towards the future,
[00:34:42.950]lies the colonial significance of "Older Than America".
[00:34:46.510]The enactment of the character's ability
[00:34:48.270]to recover from the damages done to them
[00:34:50.190]and reconnect to their traditions
[00:34:52.180]attests to indigenous cultural resilience.
[00:34:56.020]The difficulty encountered by the film
[00:34:58.150]could be seen as an attempt to hide the truth
[00:35:00.760]about the boarding school's history.
[00:35:02.270]And yet new media help "Older Than America"
[00:35:04.930]reach its audience.
[00:35:05.763]And there are many people who think that the film
[00:35:08.010]deserves to be seen in history classes.
[00:35:15.970]So, that is it.
[00:35:16.803]Thank you very much for your attention.
[00:35:35.113]Thank you, George.
[00:35:36.540]And then we will have Clementine Bordeaux,
[00:35:40.800]saving the best for last.
[00:35:45.930]Thank you all.
[00:35:47.870]These are really great.
[00:35:50.410]although we are talking about different formats in our work,
[00:35:54.920]I think they align very much.
[00:35:57.940]I hope everyone can see my screen.
[00:36:00.500]I just thinking about Tristan Ahtone's talk this morning,
[00:36:04.380]I think it aligns with what he was sharing this morning
[00:36:08.480]that we need more indigenous media mic holders.
[00:36:11.440]So, this is the title of my paper,
[00:36:15.357]"AIM and the Politics of Nostalgia".
[00:36:19.170]As soon as the Standing Rock water protectors
[00:36:22.340]set up camp to block the construction
[00:36:26.070]of the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016,
[00:36:29.330]journalists began invoking the representational legacy
[00:36:32.560]of Wounded Knee.
[00:36:34.047]"The last time Native Americans gathered
[00:36:35.947]"and the nation notice was in 1973."
[00:36:39.000]wrote Sierra Crane-Murdoch for the New Yorker,
[00:36:41.550]citing the historic 71 day standoff
[00:36:44.650]between federal agents and 200 indigenous activists
[00:36:47.710]who had occupied the town of Wounded Knee
[00:36:49.670]on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
[00:36:52.690]Orchestrated in large part by the American Indian movement,
[00:36:56.220]the 1973 occupation was itself a form of memorial
[00:37:00.510]undertaken at the site where the winter of 1890
[00:37:03.780]US troops killed 300 unarmed Lakota people,
[00:37:07.310]mainly women and children.
[00:37:09.280]And with when the North Dakota National Guard was deployed
[00:37:12.480]to repress the #NoDAPL encampment using military tactics,
[00:37:18.320]the legacies of both 1890 and 1973
[00:37:22.700]led many to note what the LA Times dubbed
[00:37:25.490]Echoes of Wounded Knee.
[00:37:27.420]These historical invocations were used primarily
[00:37:30.070]to highlight the persistence of colonial violence
[00:37:33.260]and the continuity of indigenous resistance,
[00:37:36.840]a shared history that compelled more than 300 tribes,
[00:37:40.350]of slew of allied groups to travel the Standing Rock.
[00:37:43.360]Quickly, however, the rehearsals of this lineage
[00:37:47.190]compelled me to compare
[00:37:48.450]these moments of struggle more closely.
[00:37:51.100]I found that a complicated duality of nostalgia
[00:37:54.660]obscured these differences.
[00:37:57.110]Each of these entangled moments of indigenous resistance
[00:38:01.330]find clear expression in the representations of indigeneity
[00:38:06.010]and the decolonial and anticolonial struggles
[00:38:08.708]that were dominant at the time.
[00:38:11.720]In this essay, I compare images of AIM
[00:38:13.890]during the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation
[00:38:17.000]with images of Standing Rock
[00:38:18.580]during the 2016 NoDAPL movement,
[00:38:21.540]drawing out their contextual significance
[00:38:23.770]to begin unpacking the broad social political
[00:38:26.840]and organizational shifts of the last 50 years.
[00:38:30.440]I analyze these shifts, primarily,
[00:38:32.630]to derive strategic lessons
[00:38:34.700]for present day and future activists and artists.
[00:38:38.690]Specifically, I propose that nostalgia for AIM
[00:38:42.240]which is profoundly intimate for many indigenous people,
[00:38:45.850]can become a liability when it prevents us
[00:38:48.610]from carefully attending to relational nuances
[00:38:51.570]needed by the current movement.
[00:38:54.100]We might see you this nostalgia as a duality
[00:38:56.600]that produces trepidation about dishonoring AIM's legacy,
[00:39:01.100]but how then might present day indigenous movements
[00:39:04.080]acknowledge that legacy and our nostalgia for AIM
[00:39:07.810]while being honest about these limitations.
[00:39:12.410]As a Lakota child, it was through family stories
[00:39:14.880]that I've first heard about the work
[00:39:16.520]of disrupting settler logic
[00:39:19.030]and that it demands not only direct action
[00:39:22.000]but intellectual and artistic intervention.
[00:39:25.530]Growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation,
[00:39:27.500]AIM figured prominently in the stories that I was told
[00:39:30.500]about the long legacy of Lakota resistance.
[00:39:33.720]My parents recounted passing through
[00:39:35.720]armed reservation checkpoints during the '73 occupation
[00:39:40.170]and my uncle reminisced and still reminisces
[00:39:43.180]about his westward journey to join the
[00:39:44.980]Occupation of Alcatraz in '69 to '71.
[00:39:51.170]And my family describes how my aunt
[00:39:53.240]would sneak out of the house
[00:39:54.450]to attend AIM meetings as a teenager.
[00:39:57.520]My family stories were infused
[00:39:59.440]with nostalgic pride and humor.
[00:40:01.920]Gradually, however, AIM has become inseparable in my mind
[00:40:06.020]from the depictions of a hyper-masculine indigeneity
[00:40:09.340]that saturates mainstream consumption.
[00:40:12.790]From Hollywood stereotypes to news media portrayals,
[00:40:16.470]set learned depictions of a patriarchal indigeneity
[00:40:19.690]closely resemble AIM's famous iconography
[00:40:23.030]as I'm sharing on the screen.
[00:40:24.960]And all of these portrayals are at odds
[00:40:27.680]with the lived gender relations
[00:40:29.870]with my family and community.
[00:40:31.890]To be sure, Lakota culture has absorbed
[00:40:34.300]many settler hetero-patriarchal norms,
[00:40:37.320]however, because of these internalized norms,
[00:40:40.800]it results, in part,
[00:40:42.800]from our pervasive hyper masculine depiction.
[00:40:47.020]It is important to reflect on what separates
[00:40:50.090]such images from lived relations,
[00:40:52.860]especially given that many contingencies
[00:40:55.900]that complicate the comparison of temporal distant moments.
[00:40:59.700]I focus my analysis on Lakota lands and Lakota events
[00:41:04.570]because grounding my research means
[00:41:06.770]that I know this place intimately.
[00:41:09.840]And I also argue for a tribal specificity
[00:41:12.880]in order to disrupt settler logic
[00:41:15.090]and provide important nuances
[00:41:16.780]to understand indigenous resistant movements.
[00:41:20.660]When these images recirculate today,
[00:41:23.230]the patriarchal colonial imaginary is invoked too.
[00:41:28.470]As a result they're enduring nostalgia for AIM
[00:41:31.670]within indigenous communities
[00:41:33.810]provides an opportunity for working through
[00:41:35.970]feminist politics of how to engage
[00:41:38.010]critically and carefully with the past.
[00:41:42.280]Present day indigenous activists and artists
[00:41:44.750]have already begun this complicated work
[00:41:47.470]by reviving traditional egalitarian indigenous
[00:41:52.370]which are in some cases
[00:41:54.630]include matrilineal and gendered inclusion
[00:41:58.370]and gradually reconciling
[00:42:00.100]with mainstream settler environmentalist movements.
[00:42:03.540]A new generation of indigenous leaders
[00:42:05.620]has begun experimental media
[00:42:08.180]that conceives of and represents these ideas
[00:42:12.830]in the broadest terms,
[00:42:14.620]which means to include other than human persons
[00:42:19.400]In this way, indigenous feminisms
[00:42:22.030]and a mandatory gender politics
[00:42:24.510]are shown to correspond directly
[00:42:26.790]to the principle of relationality,
[00:42:29.020]which figures central in Lakota epistemology
[00:42:32.170]and many indigenous intellectual thinking.
[00:42:36.350]Specifically, I build upon indigenous study scholar,
[00:42:42.170]who explains relationality
[00:42:44.410]that refers to protocols that dictate
[00:42:46.700]our human interconnectedness with the world around us.
[00:42:50.410]As an analytic, relationality fosters
[00:42:54.500]an understanding of resistance
[00:42:56.140]that foregrounds tribally specific world views
[00:42:58.960]and emphasizes ecological interconnectedness
[00:43:03.240]to reveal the distortions
[00:43:05.280]of settler law and policy frameworks.
[00:43:08.355]Which then brings me to turn to Dislocation Blues.
[00:43:13.430]So, in 2017, shortly after the Standing Rock camps
[00:43:17.730]were forcibly evicted Sky Hopinka
[00:43:20.460]produced a short experimental documentary film.
[00:43:24.000]The first shot is of a dark room
[00:43:26.270]and an open laptop computer.
[00:43:28.500]On screen is a young Native person, Cleo,
[00:43:31.940]wearing headphones and looking contemplative.
[00:43:35.230]And you quickly realize that you are watching
[00:43:38.280]an interview happening over a video conference.
[00:43:41.340]And let me also note that this is well before the pandemic,
[00:43:45.423]Watching video conferences now,
[00:43:46.720]obviously we're presenting virtually,
[00:43:48.760]but in 2017 this was not the norm.
[00:43:53.100]So, as Cleo began to speak a jump cut
[00:43:56.470]reveals smoke hovering over the
[00:43:58.045](speaks foreign language) camp.
[00:44:00.090]and the camera view from a hilltop.
[00:44:02.280]The interview begins.
[00:44:03.880]Cleo's disembodied voice says,
[00:44:06.710]That gender anxiety I had was more about roles.
[00:44:10.270]It was more about how I fit into traditional roles.
[00:44:13.970]In the film, we come back to Cleo and they share,
[00:44:16.900]I guess I stopped worrying about me.
[00:44:19.460]Their statement, like the contemplative space
[00:44:21.630]they create on the screen within a screen,
[00:44:24.620]indicates that embodied knowledge,
[00:44:26.870]which creates a pathway to understanding
[00:44:28.760]how society is operated at the camp.
[00:44:31.350]Cleo, as a young two square water protector,
[00:44:34.040]represents a different connection to community
[00:44:36.840]that is often left out of the A narrative
[00:44:40.080]and larger 1960s resistant movements
[00:44:43.430]as demonstrated previously in other analysis.
[00:44:48.640]I wanted to introduce and highlight
[00:44:50.700]this gender nonconforming character
[00:44:53.210]as a reflection of the materiality
[00:44:55.940]of an indigenous world of view
[00:44:58.340]that is set up in Hopinka's film.
[00:45:01.090]Throughout the rest of the documentary
[00:45:03.180]we hear disembody voices of both Cleo and Terry.
[00:45:07.090]The viewer's exposed to long shots of snow covered roads,
[00:45:10.700]beautiful horizons and scenes within scenes
[00:45:14.030]that focus on landscape rather than militaristic violence.
[00:45:18.020]The Standing Rock Occupation was not just
[00:45:20.220]an environmental justice movement,
[00:45:22.570]but a broader call of action
[00:45:24.160]to respect and understand tribal sovereignty and land.
[00:45:28.180]Indigenous people would no were longer
[00:45:30.640]just the warrior on the screen.
[00:45:33.040]The experimental film demonstrates the shift
[00:45:35.830]in US hetero-normative perspectives of resistance
[00:45:39.280]and how visual communication can impact
[00:45:42.430]our understanding of these movements.
[00:45:46.230]As Cleo and Terry share their experiences
[00:45:48.870]of life at Standing Rock,
[00:45:50.840]they also share their hope for a different future.
[00:45:53.840]The film addresses the way memory influences
[00:45:56.080]shared experiences of resistance
[00:45:58.850]and offers an unexplored perspective of the protest
[00:46:02.570]that is visually connected to land,
[00:46:04.210]humanity and our imaginations.
[00:46:07.150]Operating against narratives of myth and stereotype,
[00:46:10.970]Hopinka also provides the key understanding of relationality
[00:46:14.470]through this digital platform.
[00:46:17.010]When I see Cleo on the screen within a screen,
[00:46:21.420]it also demonstrates a relationship with technology
[00:46:24.610]that understands how innately indigenous people
[00:46:29.530]communicate with each other.
[00:46:32.430]Looking at the material
[00:46:34.920]of the digital screen within Hopinka's film
[00:46:38.150]forces the viewer to step into a digital landscape
[00:46:40.870]that evokes conversations about
[00:46:43.360]how indigenous people approach these stories.
[00:46:46.640]As Cleo contemplates, we as the viewer contemplate.
[00:46:50.270]The laptop within their image stays open
[00:46:53.360]and we be for the narration
[00:46:55.320]the same way we waited for news of Standing Rock
[00:46:57.730]back in 2016.
[00:46:59.800]Hopinka now plays on our own nostalgic view of Standing Rock
[00:47:02.780]to understand the anticipation that kept us logging in,
[00:47:06.350]in the same way that keeps us logging in
[00:47:08.560]to remember these resistant movements.
[00:47:12.230]As a viewer, I was struck by the way,
[00:47:14.680]Hopinka now use digital platforms
[00:47:17.400]and evoked digital viewership to the use of laptops,
[00:47:20.430]multiple screens, overlay of footage.
[00:47:25.333]And it reminded me of how I,
[00:47:29.660]our laptops and our phones
[00:47:31.050]became the way that we received information about the camp
[00:47:34.030]because mainstream media was not documenting this.
[00:47:37.870]Our laptops, our phones
[00:47:39.300]became the way we received information about the camps
[00:47:42.580]and the way we attempted to speak back
[00:47:44.240]to the violence on screen.
[00:47:48.072]Cleo's presence on the screen establishes
[00:47:50.610]both a performative and subjective nature of the film.
[00:47:54.330]And although we never see an image of Terry,
[00:47:56.910]his voice carries the narrative
[00:47:59.120]and is, for me, a performative mode of documentation.
[00:48:05.840]However, Hopinka's artistic documentation
[00:48:09.250]of indigenous activism also challenges a taxidermic view.
[00:48:13.570]So, I build upon Fatimah Rony's idea
[00:48:17.080]that the way that our images historic sites
[00:48:20.670]creates a taxidermic view,
[00:48:22.270]and Hopinka's work builds against that
[00:48:25.770]and documents a legacy of indigenous resistance
[00:48:29.150]and activism that challenges nostalgia
[00:48:31.750]through indigenous led media making.
[00:48:34.577]"Dislocation Blues" evokes a sense of nostalgic activism
[00:48:38.670]without relying on historical tropes off news
[00:48:41.420]to demonstrate the legacies of movements like AIM.
[00:48:45.080]Nostalgia can be argued as a construction of the past
[00:48:48.260]that engages collective memory
[00:48:50.720]and the nostalgia that Hopinka references
[00:48:53.170]stems from the characters' understanding
[00:48:55.160]of their place within the movement,
[00:48:57.160]as opposed to a forced representation of their savagery
[00:49:00.480]by mainstream media.
[00:49:02.730]By representing a relational connection to land and place
[00:49:05.790]articulated through tribal specificity,
[00:49:09.620]Hopinka teaches us how to productively imagine
[00:49:12.496]an alternative future to the one offered up
[00:49:15.270]by dominant culture.
[00:49:17.090]We should be able to narrate and craft
[00:49:20.060]our image of relationship with culture self in place.
[00:49:27.993]That was beautiful.
[00:49:29.940]Each of you are really bringing some amazing thoughts,
[00:49:34.330]you know, to the table,
[00:49:35.950]some amazing experience and research.
[00:49:39.590]Is there anything that each of you would like
[00:49:42.830]the audience here today to walk away with,
[00:49:45.650]in addition to,
[00:49:46.800]do you have any calls to action for them?
[00:49:49.670]And Clementine we can start with you.
[00:49:54.532]I think just building off of what
[00:49:55.770]Tristan Ahtone said this morning,
[00:49:57.510]that we need to support more indigenous made media
[00:50:02.040]because it is complicated.
[00:50:03.740]I actually never wanted to write about AIM,
[00:50:06.030]'cause it is such a complicated conversation
[00:50:09.320]in my communities
[00:50:10.460]and people still invoke that legacy.
[00:50:14.950]But for me also I'm like more so challenge,
[00:50:18.380]We need to challenge mainstream media.
[00:50:20.350]And I just,
[00:50:21.183]I think that is really important
[00:50:23.370]that we make sure that we're uplifting
[00:50:27.180]and centering indigenous made things,
[00:50:40.056]I can drop a citation in the chat.
[00:50:46.973]And how about you, George?
[00:50:50.700]Well, I totally agree with Clementine.
[00:50:52.720]I think that art made by indigenous people
[00:50:57.650]should be highlighted more.
[00:51:00.070]Even as a European scholar, I think that, you know,
[00:51:03.400]Native America should be thought more actually
[00:51:09.500]and everything that is linked to, you know,
[00:51:11.810]art made by indigenous as people in general.
[00:51:15.890]So, cinema, but also, you know, any form of art
[00:51:19.010]should be highlighted even more.
[00:51:20.410]And I'm looking forward to
[00:51:25.010]actually getting even more knowledge about this
[00:51:28.180]and spread the knowledge
[00:51:29.390]because those pieces of art are wonderful.
[00:51:34.250]And yeah, hope people knew them more.
[00:51:41.970]And then Todd.
[00:51:45.090]The takeaway, mine's completely shallow and selfish,
[00:51:47.850]which is just that you should visit the art exhibit
[00:51:50.013]that is on display at the University of Nebraska
[00:51:51.930]Omaha Library right now.
[00:51:53.000]Like I'm incredibly excited that it's there.
[00:51:55.610]It's not the sort of,
[00:51:58.290]it is an unusual offering
[00:51:59.680]for the University of Nebraska at Omaha
[00:52:01.210]and the reactions have been incredibly positive.
[00:52:03.610]And the more people who see it
[00:52:04.857]and the more people who say
[00:52:05.930]they have a positive experience with it,
[00:52:07.430]the more likely it is that we can bring in
[00:52:09.970]more exhibits like this.
[00:52:10.947]And so like, honestly, just selfishly,
[00:52:13.330]that is the number one takeaway.
[00:52:15.050]And also if you're in town see,
[00:52:17.070]visit for Dina Gilio-Whitaker's talk.
[00:52:19.690]And if you can't make it to Omaha,
[00:52:20.624]you can see it via Zoom and you can register via Zoom.
[00:52:23.400]But it's really cool programming for my university.
[00:52:25.780]And so I hope people
[00:52:32.020]engage with it
[00:52:33.200]so that we can do more of it.
[00:52:35.147]And how long is the exhibition up?
[00:52:39.800]the posters are lying to you.
[00:52:41.010]They say that it ends April 30th,
[00:52:42.560]but now it's gonna end April 29th
[00:52:44.460]because Tom has to take it back a day early.
[00:52:46.730]So, it's virtually through the end of April.
[00:52:50.653]And then we have a question from Kevin Abarisk,
[00:52:53.080]who asks Clementine,
[00:52:54.650]when you talk about the need for trouble specificity,
[00:52:57.160]what does it mean?
[00:52:58.010]And can you elaborate on that point?
[00:53:01.190]Yeah, I thank you Kevin, for that question.
[00:53:04.880]I think things need to be analyzed
[00:53:06.620]within the context of a region and a culture.
[00:53:09.860]I think I've learned so much living in California.
[00:53:13.720]I've lived in Los Angeles for almost a decade
[00:53:17.150]and just realizing like what is happening
[00:53:21.490]in Southern California is very different
[00:53:23.250]than what is happening in the Northern Plains.
[00:53:26.130]So when we talk about these things,
[00:53:27.750]we really need to put it in context of that place
[00:53:30.400]and not generalize,
[00:53:32.640]even though I see myself in this,
[00:53:34.470]an indigenous study scholar, right?
[00:53:37.750]But we need to fight against that homogenization
[00:53:40.340]and not just flatten everyone's experiences.
[00:53:43.500]So, we really need it be specific
[00:53:45.570]when we're talking about a place
[00:53:47.260]and a relationship to a specific land.
[00:53:51.513]Also even just think about South Dakota,
[00:53:53.010]like what happens and then in the Plains region
[00:53:56.200]and the near,
[00:53:57.250]you know, I'm near the black Hills.
[00:53:58.870]It's very different than what happens on the river,
[00:54:02.300]on the other side of the state.
[00:54:03.600]So, it's really ensuring that having that specificity,
[00:54:08.370]uplifts those narratives and voices
[00:54:11.320]that are specific to that land and place.
[00:54:19.040]Do we have any final,
[00:54:20.260]We have time for one more question.
[00:54:27.000]First person to unmute gets it.
[00:54:35.023]I'm not seeing any questions,
[00:54:35.856]so thank you all for having us.
[00:54:38.270]Oh, is there a link to register for Dina's talk?
[00:54:41.910]Todd, I'll let you respond to that one.
[00:54:46.697]Just gimme a second.
[00:54:47.530]I'm working on it.
[00:54:51.513]Well, thank you so much.
[00:54:52.360]Keep up the awesome work, everybody.
[00:54:54.840]So nice to meet you.
[00:54:55.780]This has been wonderful.
[00:54:57.980]So, have a great day.
[00:54:59.010]Thank you all.
[00:55:10.296]Hopefully that link works.
[00:55:11.270]It should work.
[00:55:21.630]Dylan, it's all yours.
[00:55:23.300]I gotta go.
[00:55:25.320]Thanks for havin' me.
[00:55:28.670]Thank you so much, Rebekka.
[00:55:31.707]And thank you, Todd.
[00:55:32.650]Thank you, George.
[00:55:33.483]Thank you, Clementine.
[00:55:36.646]Clementine, can I ask real quick?
[00:55:38.937]The taxidermic view?
[00:55:42.600]Where does that come from?
[00:55:47.200]I can drop that chat in the chat too.
[00:55:51.440]It just, it's a really provocative phrase
[00:55:53.060]and I teach a class on nostalgia and I've,
[00:55:56.043]And I've just never encountered it before.
[00:55:57.760]Yeah, it's from a text called
[00:56:00.657]"The Third Eye: Race, Cinema and Ethnographic Spectacle".
[00:56:06.080]It actually came out in 1996
[00:56:11.370]but it's, I think, still a really useful way
[00:56:13.810]to think about how Native people are historicized in film.
[00:56:20.913]Like in the go-to has always been fossilized.
[00:56:23.570]But like taxidermy is like, no, this is an active like.
[00:56:26.860]Nah, you're like shaping it
[00:56:28.570]and it continues to be shaped that way.
[00:56:33.113]I mean, it's not awesome.
[00:56:34.090]You know what I mean?
[00:56:34.923]Like it's rhetorically powerful and I really like it.
[00:56:36.967]And thank you for introducing me to it.
[00:56:42.323]Well, thank you all.
[00:56:43.156]This was really great.
[00:56:44.580]George, it was nice meeting you and,
[00:56:47.011]It was nice meeting you too.
[00:56:49.337]Well, thank you.
[00:56:50.170]Thank you for all the awesome work.
[00:56:51.140]It was wonderful to hear.
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