Updated: Mar 27, 2021
I want to understand. I don't want to be ignorant. I want to make a difference. These are just a few of the silent pleas crying out in my mind. I'm not sure how old I was when it began, but I've had an ache, in what I guess would be my heart, but I feel it in the pit of my stomach. It is for the native people of this land, the indigenous people. Western movies were a staple in my home, I wanted to be a cowboy I won't lie, but honestly I felt a connection to the "Indians" in the story. They were portrayed in an ignorant Hollywood manner, and in my young mind I think I knew something just wasn't right. I also loved the sweet Thanksgiving story, one of peace and reconciliation. That is me, I'm a peacemaker. I'm ashamed to say how long it was before I realized our so-called Thanksgiving story was nothing more than a legendary tale. We believe the stories we are told as children, and within all of our minds we hold empty space of untold stories, hidden history, and opportunity for change.
Change for me came through education. While attending college in Wyoming I took a course on cultural diversity in America. I sat beside a young woman from Wyoming's Wind River Reservation. When we delved into the subject of her culture, I was shocked when the conversation turned ugly as a white student from South Dakota revealed her prejudices based upon her interactions with some people from the reservation near her home. Around the same time, I began working on my very first collage that would later be sold at the 2019 Columbus Arts Festival.
The piece revealed the well worn hands of a woman stitching on a quilt. The quilt had "sewn" within it pieces of map from both the Wind River and Pine Ridge Reservations.
These pieces symbolize my prayers for the indigenous peoples of America. Before making the decision to move back to Ohio I had been accepted to the
University of Wyoming and was considering a degree in Native American and Indigenous Studies, along with my continued studies in Art.
Recently my attention has been drawn to some specific situations among the indigenous people of our country. One being the desperate need for fresh water on the Navajo Reservation. I was following the work of friends of mine that serve the Deni' people and who are fighting to bring fresh water to their homes. I wanted to help, and all I knew to do was to promote awareness by making a piece of art that reflects the need of the people, yet symbolizes hope. In this piece hands are reaching out from the past with, what was, an empty bowl. They are coming from a dry and weary land, a land, that is their home. This is reflected in the desert like sand and paper images. Flowing from the top, blue, torn pieces of paper rain come down filling the land and the bowl, where new life begins to grow, revealing hope for the future. My hope is that this original piece will provide a fresh water cistern for a family in the Navajo Nation.