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Heap of Birds, Native Hosts
- Through forced relocation and myths of eradication, Native Americans have been marginalized, obscuring the present-day vitality of over 500 federally-recognized tribes with independent sovereignty. Activists, including the artist Edgar Heap of Birds, are working to reveal the ongoing legacy of America’s colonialist past and make the presence of Native Americans visible in our daily lives.
- In a series of signs created specifically for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Edgar Heap of Birds uses language to call the visitor’s attention to the native nations upon whose land they stand. He hopes to shift our perspective on the roles of hosts and visitors, and to conjure a generosity that contrasts with the historical treatment of Native Americans by the government.
- This particular site, in Northwest Arkansas, carries special weight for the artist, as it was part of the Trail of Tears, the route of the forced relocation of 60,000 Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek, and Seminole peoples from their ancestral lands to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).
More to think about
Does where you live have place names or other indications of a Native American history in the area? This interactive map can help you if you’re not sure. How might you make people more aware of this history? How might you propose to bring attention to the modern presence of Native Americans in your area?