The Native in Me

dakota

acrylic paints and inks, collage, image transfer on coffee baked w/c paper

I like to think I might have Native American blood, (though it’s doubtful).  Maybe then I could feel like a true American? or maybe not. My claim is shaky and based on strange preferences like feathers, drums and repetitive native chants.  Also there’s something about my high cheekbones. . .

My ancestors were settlers, Norwegians who took advantage of the fertile prairie lands of the dakotas.  Perhaps they even read this sign (which I found in an old Look magazine) that read “2,000,000 farms. . .to be had free of cost” and “simply by occupying it”.  I cringe to think of this.  Free of cost to whom? We now know that the price to nature, to human life, not to mention that next most essential staple of human life – culture and tradition – was obscenely high.

My feelings about this, my confusions come to occupy the paper, even as I demonstrate a lesson in aging paper by soaking it in coffee and baking it, using antique ephemera, sepia toned inks, and even image transfer (the native on horseback and the feather).

My Norwegian relatives, the Buskeruds and Loffswolds were “good” people as far as I remember. So I can’t help wondering if they had any Native American friends, and perhaps even a little bit of the native gene pool entered the blood line somewhere along the way?

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