Cause and Effect
9.5” X 7” X 8”
Arches watercolor paper splints printed with archival inks, acrylic paint
This single-weave basket features two historical photographs (from the collections of Smithsonian Institution; National Museum of the American Indian and the National Anthropological Archives), each of ten Indian boys representative of multiple tribes. The photo of them wrapped in blankets wearing traditional hair styles was taken the day they arrived at the Hampton Boarding School (VA) in 1878; the photograph on the opposite side of the basket shows another group of ten boys soon after their arrival to the Carlisle Indian Boarding School, their standard military uniforms and shorn hair demonstrating their successful, “civilized” reform.
These images are combined with two documents that are related. In white, are the lyrics of three versions of the children’s song “10 Little Indians”, including the original version written by Septimus Winner in 1868. Sample phrases from all three versions of these hostile lyrics include: "one got executed and then there were nine, one got syphilis and then there were eight, one broke his neck and then there were six, one chopped himself in half and then there were six, one dead drunk and then there were three, one shot himself and then there was one, he went and hanged himself and then there were none.” The purple splints are printed with high statistics of violence directed at Indian women. These facts include: “3 out of 4 Native women will be physically assaulted in their lifetime, Native women are 10 times more likely to be murdered than any other group of women, 1 in 3 native women will be raped in their lifetime, and 88% of crimes against Indian women are by non-natives but tribal courts have ZERO authority to prosecute them.” The paper text is washed with purple, black and blue paint to emphasize the bruising severity of this violence.
It is not a coincidence that this dehumanizing attitude expressed by 19th century America towards indigenous people continues to be played out under the radar in our country today. This underprosecuted, criminal racism is a direct result of the attitude that America has fostered since first contact. The Cherokee basketry pattern used in this piece is called Cross-On- The-Hill