approx 6” X 6” X 9”
Arches watercolor paper splints printed with archival inks, acrylic paint
Woven in the shape and style of a Cherokee single-weave basket, the red splints in this piece feature names and tribes of the 10-12,000 students who attended the Carlisle Indian Boarding School. The handwritten text on the beige splints is my mother’s memoir of her boarding school experience, written in her own hand. Handprints are a universal symbol among the Plains tribes to indicate ownership and identity; they are used here to illustrate that despite the government attempt to assimilate these children, their birthright is to remain members of their tribes.
The title “Imprint” refers to the government experiment, which attempted to imprint the white culture onto Indian children. It also represents the lasting impression of the strict and frequent punishments inflicted on native children, often for infractions such as speaking their native languages or otherwise “acting Indian”. Slaps, spankings and beatings were not uncommon and one of the unexpected long-term results of teaching this adult-to-child behavior has been devastating. Prior to boarding schools, domestic violence was unheard of in Indian culture. Today many communities are trying to “unteach” this unacceptable form of discipline and reclaim traditional ways to exhibit love.