Culture by greyshine on Flickr.
I need to reblog this again to point out just why I love this particular picture so. That thing he’s holding? Yeah that’s a roll of packing tape in a plastic holder. That’s a thoroughly mundane, inarguably ‘modern’ artifact. Let me tell you why that’s important.
Many of the most famous and ‘iconic’ vintage photos of NDNs are from the body of work of Edward Curtis. You probably recognize some of them:
Thing is, Edward Curtis was a fucking lying liar about NDN lives.
Curtis documented some aspects of the customs and lifestyles of American Indians of the trans-Mississippi West. The publication of Curtis’s work, highly romanticized and most craftily staged, exerted a major influence on the image of Indians in popular culture. Curtis is reported to have retouched some of the photographs in order to remove modern objects, adding to the popular illusion of Native Americans as a primitive people.
Yeah, see how that second photo is deliberately sepia-toned and how the clock between the two individuals has been removed because it’s ‘too modern’? Fuck that shit.
That image up there is of a child in full tradition regalia…carrying a roll of tape. Because that child exists today in the modern world where tape is a thing. That regalia exists -today- and is not a ‘historical costume’. My love for that image is the same as my love for things like this traditional elk hide hand drum painted to look like Captain America’s shield by NDN Etsy Artist JBear:
Or this kid in Superman Powwow Regalia:
(Photo of Brandon B at the Red Paint Powwow by R. Lohr)
Because NDNs are modern, living people influenced by modern pop culture. It’s what makes things like traditionally-beaded sneakers so awesome:
(Beaded sneakers made by Elizabeth Doxtater, Mohawk)
We are here, living -today-. Sometimes we own clocks and carry tape and reference cheesy summer movies and wear sneakers. And when we do these things, they are NDN things.