This powerful exhibit, curated by Emily Arthur, Marwin Begaye and John Hitchcock, chronicles the journey of 72 American Indians–Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche Arapaho and Caddo–who were taken from their homes in Oklahoma and transported by train to St. Augustine, where they were imprisoned at Fort Marion (the present-day Castillo de San Marcos) from 1875-1878.
This forced removal was part of the federal off-reservation boarding school policy that remained in place in the U.S. until the 1930s. Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt commanded Fort Marion at the time and established schools that prohibited Native children from speaking their languages or practicing their religion. Children were removed them from their families and suffered what is now understood to be cultural genocide. In 1879, Lieutenant Pratt took over the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, where he continued using these methods to assimilate 530 Chiricahua Apache men, women, and children, all held there as prisoners of war. At this stage, Pratt coined the phrase, “Kill the Indian, save the man.”
“Re-Riding History” explores the experience of imprisonment through the eyes of contemporary Native and non-Native American artists–some are descendants of ancestors who were imprisoned during Pratt’s tenures. The artists used the format of historic ledger drawings made at Fort Marion from 1875–1878, as well as their heartfelt response and present perspective to this devastating historical experience. All of the works are the same size as leger pages. Using leger has roots in Plains hide paintings recording battle scenes or hunting feats. As bison disappeared, and tribes were forced off their homes into reservations and internment camps, government-issued leger paper replaced earlier materials for Native artists.
The traveling exhibit of contemporary works on paper includes various printmaking methods, drawing, collage, photography and mixed-media. Artists represented include Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Shan Goshorn, Mel Chin, Jim Denomie, Edgar Heap of Birds, Alison Saar and Monte Yellow Bird Sr.. Molly Murphy Adams and Dyani White Hawk incorporate traditional Native arts of quill and bead work.
Current handicap access for center for the arts is on the ground floor, on North 15th Street, between Vine and Pine Streets. The Center for the Arts is open during construction.
All University Gallery exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.
For additional information call UW-L Department of Art: 608.785.8230