The Native American Artist Harnessing ‘Old Indian Tricks’
Native American tattoo artist, Bill Martin, has gone on the offensive. He’s drawing attention to his own indigenous heritage, and to the inherent racism embedded in our culture. He also points out the lack of media on art, activism, and diversity in our own communities.
“There’s a big problem with the ‘Old Indian Trick’ and its impact on our society…. the white man is using our elders to tell our young people how to behave. He is making people like me and my family feel ‘less than’ and ‘less than’ is not a bad word. I’m proud to be an Indian.” (image courtesy of Bill Martin)
Bill Martin is a Native American artist from the Navajo Nation. He has many tattoos, and more to come. What you see in the above image is a work in progress. The image isn’t finished yet, but it comes from a deep tradition that is still alive and well in this country.
The images above are my interpretation of the image that Bill Martin used as a model in his latest piece, called ‘Native American Tricks,’ which he says is an “admission of our own culture’s traditions.”
The piece is now hanging in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and will be at the upcoming 2014 Art + Medicine Festival in Washington, D.C., and the upcoming 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in New York City.
Martin says that the piece is a protest of how he and his family are treated by the white man, by his own people’s culture. “Our culture has so much to offer, so much to teach, but we can’t seem to teach ourselves,” he said.
It’s that sense of pride and tradition, of belonging that Martin and his family are trying to fight for, to reclaim for himself and his people.
Martin says the piece is an “aesthetic statement, and an artistic movement that I hope will get attention.”
We were sent a link from NPR to cover the piece. You can also check out the video below:
What can we learn from the controversy over