Take Back The Power

Since 1999, the annual Art on the Streets program in Colorado Springs “celebrates the power of art in public places while turning the streets of Downtown Colorado Springs into a yearlong art gallery.”

One of the entries in 2020 was this stark and shocking mural, an illustration that art does not always leave one feeling warm and fuzzy. Artist Gregg Deal, a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute, whom some of you might remember as the co-curator of the exhibit “Disinformation” at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, used his tall canvas on a downtown building to raise awareness about the very real but very ignored subject of “Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women” in America.

The following quote by the artist accompanies his mural:

Much of my art deals with Indigenous issues, protest, and representation, occupying space in ways that are simultaneously beautiful, unexpected, and difficult. This mural raises questions about the inherent invisibility of Indigenous People, specifically referencing the abnormally high rate at which Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit individuals go missing or are murdered. This is an issue in El Paso County and around the nation. With this portrait of my eldest daughter, I hope to move the viewer and open up dialogue within the local community.

Native women and girls are disproportionately affected by sex-trafficking, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other heinous crimes which all too often do not get prosecuted and remain unsolved. The heart-rending list of victims and atrocities remains one of the darkest stains in the history of both Canada and the United States. Native children in the US have had to mouth the words “with liberty and justice for all” countless times during the Pledge of Allegiance for a country who only granted them citizenship in 1924 and who kept tearing apart their families and communities well into the 1950s by sending children away to boarding schools.

May we live to see the day when Justice will indeed be blind and do right by all those women and girls who have been wronged or even lost their lives.

Fur further reading, click on the following link: https://www.nativewomenswilderness.org/mmiw

38 thoughts on “Take Back The Power

  1. The treatment of Native Americans has always been a stain upon our country. There are those who use the natives aggression against each other as an excuse for that of the settlers and our government but it is no excuse for a nation that claims liberty and justice for all without actually granting it. The drive for power itself is blind and ignorant of its effects on the innocent victims. Good for Colorado Springs in recognizing this and celebrating the contributions of Native Art.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a very powerful image, reflecting dark chapters in US and Canadian history. But when people like Gregg Deal, and you too Tanja with your incisive and impassioned prose, keep the story alive there is hope that our generation (and those yet to come) may learn from the past and do better in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful and expressive mural! I am living in Canada since over 30 years now and I hope to be around long enough to see justice and equality for all the First Nations – on both sides of our borders and around the world!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. One of my readers is a Canadian who’s been much involved in promoting understanding of the issues associated with missing or murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) in that country.

    Seeing the mural and reading your post, I was taken back to the 1980s, when the ‘disappeared’ women of Latin America became a concern. You may or may not know Ronnie Gilbert of the Weavers (a famous folk group of the 1950s and 1960s) or Holly Near, but once I heard their song Hay Una Mujer Desparecida, I never forgot it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment, Linda. I didn’t know that song, but it’s haunting. More haunting is the fact that these unspeakable terrors continue, and people everywhere keep looking away. This is changing some, but I don’t think enough.

      Like

  5. It’s horrifying to realise how the indigenous peoples are treated in the countries should be said to be originally theirs – not a good reflection on mankind! I can only hope that we are becoming more enlightened and will behave better in future.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a powerful post, Tanja. Such a terrible subject, and yet I was heartened to read that people out there are noticing and doing something about it. Here in Massachusetts, it’s taken a long time for people to come around to the fact that maybe Thanksgiving isn’t a celebration for native Americans…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment, Julie. I agree–it’s heartening that some of these terrible crimes are finally taken seriously and are getting addressed. But for justice to prevail in the end, it’s still a long, tortuous journey.

      Like

  7. The artist created a very powerful work of art.
    The haunted gaze of the young woman tells the whole historical story. I also see beauty, pride and self-confidence in this indomitable young woman. I can’t imagine anyone walking past this work of art without looking at it.
    Thank you, Tanja!
    Greetings….Rosie from Germany

    Liked by 1 person

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