MoCNA Stands in Solidarity

Jun 5, 2020

Dear Members and Friends,

The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter against the killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others who have been victims of police brutality and racial inequality. We grieve for the injustice and mistreatment of all people of color and we acknowledge the pain. Indigenous People too have been murdered by police at inordinate numbers without accountability. The missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls’ crisis has existed for decades without serious examination and investigation by the police. Today we join together to challenge the present by seeking justice and equality.

MoCNA is not neutral. We tell the truth about contemporary Indigenous Peoples. Art has the power to tell the truth and heal. Truth telling, reconciliation, and transformation are the seeds of healing. Art is an important weapon against hate and prejudice. We are committed to supporting Indigenous artists who create work that addresses the issues of race, inequity, and violence against people of color thus changing lives. In our collection is an installation created in 1994 by IAIA Academic Dean Charlene Teters (Spokane) titled It Was Only An Indian that resonates today.

It Was Only An Indian installation detail (1994) by Charlene Teters, mixed media, cutout figures, chalk outline of body; bar w/related material; neon lights, 168 in. w x 360 in., museum collection: Spk-50

It Was Only An Indian installation detail (1994) by Charlene Teters (Spokane), mixed media, cutout figures, chalk outline of body, bar with related material, neon lights, 168 in. w x 360 in., Museum Collection SPK-50.




teters_01_w

It Was Only An Indian installation detail (1994) by Charlene Teters (Spokane), mixed media, cutout figures, chalk outline of body, bar with related material, neon lights, 168 in. w x 360 in., Museum Collection SPK-50.



In response to her work created 26 years ago, Teter says, “The impact of racism and hate is real. The tragic murder of George Floyd is an example of the real impact of dehumanization, hate, and racism. When you dehumanize a people and it is done so publicly, we are vulnerable to acts of hate and violence, that we face every day somewhere in America. Like the violence directed at our Native women who are murdered and missing and somehow, that is not seen as a national tragedy—because, It was only a non-human.” This installation articulates the issues Indigenous Peoples have experienced since colonization. The dehumanization of Indigenous Peoples parallels that of other people of color.

Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee), President of the Institute of American Indian Arts, urges the community to join the struggle against racism, hatred, and violence. He asks that we provide positive and constructive contributions to the national conversation about race and poverty in this country. As a fine arts college president, he encourages us to use our creative talents to fashion innovative statements about what is happening. He encourages the IAIA community to not stand quietly by while these injustices continue to damage the health and moral fiber of our peoples.

With renewed determination, the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts will continue addressing issues of injustice, racism, and inequity.

Sincerely,

Patsy Phillips (Cherokee)
MoCNA Director