Shan Goshorn
Approx 8.25” X 8.25” X 19.5” each, set of 3
Arches watercolor paper splints printed with archival inks, acrylic paint

“It is the mothers, not the warriors, who create a people and guide their destiny.”
Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Lakota*

The above quote inspired this triptych set of Cherokee style, single-weave baskets. As a mother, I identify with the divine gift of conceiving, loving and guiding my children. But I believe that Luther Standing Bear’s visionary words, woven into the exterior of this set of baskets, also point to the commitment of native people to treat our traditions in the same way… our culture requires dedication, respect and devotion to nurture it and keep it alive. Men and women alike are vessels of this sacred responsibility.

The interior weaves together words from one of the many emails this young mother and I exchanged during our collaboration, in which she eloquently expresses her gratitude to the Creator for choosing her to help grow this child, emphasizing how beautiful and powerful motherhood makes her feel.

The red center was chosen for its powerful connection to birth and warfare, emphasizing the personal sacrifice associated with each. Both the acts of creating and defending life inflict physical and emotional wounds, leaving us forever vulnerable. After experiencing either of these events, we realize that our individual lives no longer hold the same value- we are intensely more vested in hope for our children and our people. Like carrying our children in our wombs, our arms and our hearts, we hold our history and ancestral traditions in our blood, our actions and in our intentions for the future.

*Historical note: Luther Standing Bear was raised in traditional Lakota way but at age 11, he attended the Carlisle Indian Boarding School. Upon graduation (a member of the first graduating class), he returned to Pine Ridge. In his life, he served as chief, traveled with Buffalo Bill, acted in California films and wrote several books to educate the public about Lakota culture and government policies toward native people, criticizing the attempt to “make over” Indians into the likeness of the white race. His passionate words continue to inspire people of all races.