Honor the Treaties: Street Art Pushes for Accountability

Striking images of the Pine Ridge reservation have hit the streets in a collaboration between photographer Aaron Huey and visual artists Shephard Fairey (of Obama HOPE fame) and Ernesto Yerena. The three posters are bringing Tribal concerns into the public eye, attracting attention in the blogosphere, and instigating a contemporary conversation about sovereignty.

Huey's photography has extensively documented life in Tribal communities, and his talk at TEDxDU detailed the history of treaty violation between the Sioux Nation and the Federal Government. He asserts that all work towards progress and development in Indian Country takes place under the shadow of broken promises, with these art works seeking to combat the perception that the treaties are a thing of the past. Citing health and development disparities the artists are donating proceeds from the project to benefit education about Native issues, including Huey's Pine Ridge Billboard Project and allied organizations.

For images of the posters and more information visit the campaign's website HERE.

 


 

 

Art: Northwest Coastal Native Bentwood Box


(Drawing by Kathryn Holt)

Northwest Coastal Native Americans were highly skilled in carving canoes, weaving baskets, hats and making bentwood cedar boxes for storage. The various Northwest Native American peoples held a potlach to commemorate status, celebrate dedications and mark events to celebrate and/or confirm ancestry. On this bentwood box sketch a bear and whale are represented. Making bentwood boxes was an art-form in which yellow or red cedar was steamed and bent from a single plank scraped with an adz and smoothed into a certain thickness, with grooves with three cuts at right angles, steamed and bent along the grooves to form a four sided box, the fourth side being tied and sealed with clam paste. The bottom and lids were made separately, and these boxes were so water tight, they could hold fish oil. Many of these boxes were both carved and painted while some were just painted or carved. They were often used to keep treasured objects that were often given away at a potlach.

Loon Headdress/Mask


(by Kathryn Holt)

The research on this subject is from pictures taken by Edward Curtis in the 1800s from a Tluwulahu Mask. In several Coastal cultures the loon was considered sacred and was thought to embody the spirit of old allies, signified by the haunting wailing sound of its cries. The mask was worn on the head to imitate the loon changing into the form of a man.

Native American legendary stories about loons can be found at:
Sylvan Dell Publishing and Indigenous Peoples.

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The Bowl - "Tlingit Potlatch Bowl carved with bear features. Used for potlatch feasts to hold salmon or other foods." by Kathryn Holt

The Rattle - "Shaman's rattle with Raven face and inlaid with abalone shell" by Kathryn Holt

 
 The Canoe - "Canoeing in Coastal Waters"
by Kathryn Holt

 

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