Disney’s Pocahontas is a great interpretation of Indian culture… right? There are several people that would strongly say, “No!”
Thursday night, the Lory Student Center Arts Department in collaboration with the Native American Cultural Center (NACC), hosted CSU alumna Traci Morris and the artists involved with the “That’s Not Me Exhibit” displayed in the Duhesa Lounge to discuss the idea behind the exhibit, which is to highlight the misrepresentations of the Native American culture and put those into a correct light.
Approximately 30 people attended.
“Reappropriation really is the theme of the artists in the exhibit,” Morris said, who is a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and has a Ph.D. in American Indian Studies.
Morris quoted Robert Berkhofer, author of The White Man’s Indian.
“By classifying all peoples as Indians, whites categorize the variety of cultures and societies into a single entity for the purpose of description and analysis and thereby neglecting and playing down the social and cultural diversity of Native Americans then and now, for the convenience of the simplified understanding,” she read.
Morris explained that the misrepresentation of the visual imagery surrounding the Native American representation are misleading and end up sending people down the wrong path.
“People read a visual language –– this is very visual, so when people see this they are believing the stories,” Morris said.
Two of the artists, America Meredith and Jacob Meder, that are displayed in the exhibit were present at the speech.
Meredith, a member of the Cherokee Nation tribe, explained her artwork from over the years and how she ties it into her Swedish culture. She said that the importance of her artwork is to be as legitimate as possible.
“If you don’t ever share anything real with the public the conversation always stays in the same place,” Meredith said.
Meder, a member of the Mechoopda tribe of Northern California, explained that going back to the origins was really important to him.
“The print process is important to me. That’s mainly what I do,” Meders said.
He said that if it weren’t for his origins, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
“I wouldn’t have the power in my voice if it weren’t the people who suffered before me,” Meders said.
Tricia Jares, sophomore electronic art major explained that the idea of attending the event was “to know what life is as an artist.”
Andrea Anthony also a sophomore electronic art major, explained that for her, the point of the presentation was to understand “the implications of artwork in the real world.”
The “That’s Not Me Exhibit” will be the last exhibit in the Duhesa Lounge until the completion of the LSC remodel in fall 2014. Any more artwork after May will be displayed in the north end of the lower level of the LSC.