Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Akwesasne Artists Speak Out in Exhibit on Stereotypes


"No Free Ride," 2018, mixed-media, Natasha Smoke-Santiago.

Howes Cave, NY. "Tonto, Teepees & Totem Poles: Considering Native American Stereotypes in the 21st Century" opens on April 5, 2018. Developed and presented by the Iroquois Indian Museum (Howes Cave, NY), the exhibit with accompanying special programs and activities, will run through Nov 30, 2018. "Tonto, Teepees & Totem Poles" is a multi-faceted response to the cultural misconceptions surrounding Native American people that persist in North America today.

While many of the damaging and degrading stereotypes of the 1940's and 50's about Native people have largely disappeared, new and equally distorted stereotypes have become increasingly prevalent. Through objects from the Museum's collection, advertising, and film footage, the exhibit examines the origins and repercussions of these stereotypes. These and other artifacts of popular culture frame First Nations individuals as noble warrior, Indian princess, mystical shaman, exotic oddity or vestige of an all but vanished race. The exhibit contrasts these stereotypes and misconceptions with Iroquois and other First Nations art created specifically in response to this complex and divisive issue. From New Mexico, Wisconsin, New York, and Ontario these creative declarations offer a thoughtful, challenging, and at times humorous counterbalance to the exhibit's narrative.

Akwesasne artists featured in the exhibit include Natasha Smoke Santiago and Alex Jacobs. Of special interest is a collaborative statement created by Robin Logan and conceived by Massena High School students Layla Bush, Landon Laffin, Darryl Lazare, Ieronhenehtha Point, Tehonwentsiawakon Pyke-Jacobs, Amanda Rourke, Mallory Sunday, Keely Thompson-Cook, and Kirby Thompson.

Additional participants include Shelley Niro (Mohawk); Peter B. Jones (Onondaga), Marion Snow (Mohawk); Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota), Karen Ann Hoffman (Oneida), Frank Buffalo Hyde (Onondaga) & Courtney Leonard (Shinnecock); Eric Gansworth (Onondaga); Tom Huff (Seneca-Cayuga), Linley Logan (Seneca); Kelly Greene (Mohawk) and others.

"Post Colonial Contact Blues" 2018; Peter B. Jones (Onondaga), ceramic sculpture.

An opening reception is planned for Saturday, May 19 from 1pm to 4 pm. Cannupa Hanska Luger and several of the artists will be on hand to speak with visitors about their work. Luger will also screen and discuss "This is A Stereotype," a 2013 film containing archival footage from the 1976 Native American Videotape Archives and interviews with indigenous artists, scholars and activists representing nations across the US. The film looks at the prevalence of contemporary stereotypes and how history has influenced the way Native Americans see themselves today. Luger explains, "The idea behind the film is to invite the audience to ask their own questions, not to simply understand the information they will view about Native identity and stereotypes in this film, but to utilize that information to think critically when making decisions regarding culture and appropriation."

Tonto, Teepees, & Totem Poles is supported in part by an Action Grant from Humanities

New York.


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