Goshorn_Defending The Sacred_1868 treaty side with snake_Watermark.jpg

Defending The Sacred

Shan Goshorn
19” X17” X 6”
Arches watercolor paper, archival inks, acrylic paint, wood, antler, artificial sinew, glue, brass hardware

This sculptural piece was designed to heighten awareness regarding the environmental and humanitarian battle between Water Protectors and Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, ND.

My goal in choosing images and words for this piece was to illustrate both the spiritual and legal aspects of the resistance. Included are reproductions of two relevant treaties (Treaty of Horse Creek 1851 and Ft. Laramie Treaty 1868) and a photo of the signing of the 1868 treaty to illustrate the legal land rights of the Standing Rock Sioux. Also included are Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Archambault’s address to the UN and a press release to the general public explaining the tribe’s sacred view of the land and sovereignty. He recounts the prophesy foretelling of a poisonous greed that will invade the land “like a black snake,” interpreted to be a pipeline. The snake imagery is woven with the Dakota Access Pipeline’s own words, extolling the “benefits” of the oil industry. 

On the exterior and interior are photos of the Oceti Sakowin camp, protectors of the sacred earth and water. On the interior, an eagle prayer fan is combined with the words of a Lakota prayer, symbols of protection and the tribe’s dedication to peace even in the face of aggression from a militarized opposition. Red, black, yellow and white represent the four sacred colors of the Plains Indians.

The shape, a legal briefcase, illustrates how this battle will be fought in the courtroom because ALL people have a legal and democratic right to uncontaminated water. The “zigzag” weave is a Cherokee basket pattern called “water”; handle hardware is made from antler, representing the strength of our resolve.

All proceeds of the sale of this piece have been donated to the Standing Rock Sioux legal fund.

I Stand With Standing Rock.

Collection of the Nelson Atkins Museum