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Introductory Remarks

This section features materials related to Native American topics, combining academic and artistic interests and focusing on issues of contemporary relevance.

This basically concerns two main areas, pictures of various Indian reservations, and teaching materials that are the outcome of seminar sessions and conference papers. I have also provided links to further resources.

The purpose of the reservation pictures is two-fold.

First, they are intended to document the state of affairs in order to draw attention to the consequences of continued policies of Manifest Destiny. The promise of America, which is oftentimes such a huge part of the American mythology, has not arrived equally in all parts of the country. In one of the richest countries on Earth, poverty is widespread amongst all groups of people, be they White, Black, Indian, Latino or from other groups. But it is the indigenous population specifically, the original owners and stewards of the land, which has received guarantees by treaties that are oftentimes not upheld in quite the same way as originally intended, and which still finds itself more often than not outside the promise of life, liberty, and prosperity. Poverty and desolation can be seen in the pictures; they are not meant to be voyeuristic displays but the documentation of a responsibility that the society at large has not always taken seriously.

Cultural sovereignty is the second focus. Having created a photographic narrative ranging over several countries on different continents, my interest in the reservation pictures is to put them on an equal footing, aesthetically, and to document the state of Native America, regarding its physical and cultural base. America is not just New York, Chicago, San Francisco, or landscape; it is also, still, Native Country. Turtle Island may have become fragmented, but it has not disappeared. Native culture is a presence in America without which the narrative of the entire nation would not function. The traditions of the indigenous population have in many places grown stronger again, and it is my hope that by showing pictures of the land, of reservations both large and small, but also of select specific sites, a narrative may emerge that can document both the commonality but also the diversity of Native country in the United States and Canada.

April 6th, 2010

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