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Indigenous In Plain Sight | Gregg Deal | TEDxBoulder

Jun 02, 2021
Before we begin, I want to take the opportunity to recognize that we are on the traditional lands of the Arapaho, the Cheyenne and the Ute, and even though they may not be here, this is still their land, it is still Indian land and everywhere in the world. this continent hum Oh new Gregg treat me gnarnia new COO utakata new kuma na new - buddha new pneumo goober - yada want my name is greg


I'm a husband I'm a father I'm an artist and sometimes I'm an activist and I'm also a member of the Pyramid Paiute Tribe Lake.
indigenous in plain sight gregg deal tedxboulder
A lot of times when I do this, I always feature my family because my family is my center, they are the center of everything I do, they inform the work I do and the way I do it. I have to do the things I do well, so I'm going to introduce my family very quickly to what I normally do because I have a lot to tell you, this is my wife, we've been married for 19 years. They have five children, the oldest to the youngest is Sage Phoenix Maddox Grayson and Holland is our little terror. There are a number of fun things and interactions we have in our homes and I generally love to share them, but I'll only share one that my wife has.
indigenous in plain sight gregg deal tedxboulder

More Interesting Facts About,

indigenous in plain sight gregg deal tedxboulder...

I have been documenting for the past four years my youngest son, Grayson, in what she calls the side stance and what that means, that he is a professional slimmer. Now this seems like a simple thing, but it actually is, and now listen, it's not just something he's been doing. he's done it since he was a baby and this is the last one, it's hard to get him to do it now so it's a little bit of my family and like I said they are the center of everything I do and I'm an artist which It means I create things for a living.
indigenous in plain sight gregg deal tedxboulder
I would say that I am mainly a painter. I work in mixed media and I paint and create work that has a lot to do with


identity, historical consideration, decolonization, but I'm also creating murals, this is actually cube-boulder I just finished it and you'll notice that it has the colors of school, but I'm also known primarily for performance art. I create work that's about being in spaces that aren't typically spaces that people think we occupy. I address things like stereotypes and and conceptions and misconceptions is everything from bedrock concepts to even things like blood quantum, the way we are quantified through an American process that decides how Indian we are and whether or not we are Indian enough to matter much.
indigenous in plain sight gregg deal tedxboulder
There are two main tools in everything I do and that has brought me to this stage. I do a lot with history and historical consideration and I also do a lot of critical thinking and within those things I have discovered something and that is that the value of


people is really low in the eyes of the United States and in the eyes of American culture. There is a hierarchy that is established within those spaces that immediately tells every child and ultimately every adult that they are receiving an education here in the United States. What is our value, for example, we know who Christopher Columbus is, but we do not know the names of the people with whom he came into contact.
I mean, I know you guys might not know this, but that's important because it already tells you that he's important. and we're not, in fact, it's so deep that he came here and thought he was in India, so he called the people he came into contact with, which was actually the present-day Dominican Republic, he called them Indians and more 500 years later. We all know that he was lost at sea, but we still call indigenous people Indians. Abraham Lincoln has this incredible legacy in history: he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but what you don't know is that he also signed the week before the Emancipation Proclamation was promulgated.
The largest mass hanging in US history was approved. 38 Dakota men who were being hanged for more than just an example. It happened on the 26th. It was the day after Christmas. I don't say this to create division. statement about Abraham Lincoln. I tell you this because when we omit things from history, we immediately give them value and what this does is it sets us up with something that is really harmful when we think about the Indians, we think about things like When I was a kid there were some Looney cartoons Tunes that were very popular and you know people could see this and think it's no big


, it's just a cartoon, you know, it's satire, it's funny, but this is what happens with little kids.
See this, native children see this and it immediately tells them what the world thinks of them, that they are a character, not to be taken seriously, but beyond that, it tells their children what our value is and informs them as we are. we like how we talk, how we act and everything is pigeonholed into one thing, which is this, and that's why we see things like this. Pocahontas, she was actually 10 years old when he went through the things that he went through and this. the images are etched into the American psyche, they're etched into American culture, they're etched into Western culture and that's why they manifest themselves in things like Coachella and Burning Man and the next thing you know we have sports mascots that somehow represent Every native person on Earth there are more than 567 tribes that are fairly recognized in the United States.
There are several hundred more that are not recognized and are generally recognized by the state. There are more than 300 different languages. This is only in the United States. This does not count Canada or Central America. or South America and yet we are supposed to accept these things as an honor; In fact, these people have no context for what we are and who we are, to the point where they believe they are not only honoring us but carrying our legacy, so this brings me to my work as an artist. I discovered that the only way to function as an artist is to work within the confines of what Western culture expects you to do, they expect us to paint cowboys and The Indians are headed to Santa Fe and they want to buy a nice Indian painting, buy a nice Indian painting to put it in your house because it's Indian and, as a result of that, we are one of the few subcultures in the art world that is actually controlled by a market of Western buyers who decide whether our stories have value or not and it is a risk, I mean, if I do anything other than that, it's an inherently professional risk, so I've decided to take a professional risk.
Working under the premise of what contemporary indigenous art looks like when it is not informed by a market of Western buyers, so the first piece I created is this one, it is a self-portrait. I was in kindergarten and it's a seemingly innocent image. but it's called meadow because that's what the kids called me when I was a kid. I went to an all-white school. I was the darkest kid in school and that's what they called me. I'm not saying this to be decisive. or indifferent to a word, but to illustrate the intersectionality that exists within the language of racism and intolerance and this is how I experienced it at the age of 5 or 6 and this is not a unique story for indigenous children, this is happening everywhere the country and the reason for this is because no one has any context about who or what a native person is, our stories have no value, in fact this piece has been rejected by two shows, one of which I was asked to brought the piece and two days later I said we can't hang this because of the word that's there for a native voice group show, so you can see there's not even room for our stories, the stories that don't make sense, the stories that do not coincide with that narrative of cowboys and Indians.
I just finished this piece. I don't have a title yet. I was talking to a good friend who is a neighbor. I tried Team or Western Shoshone and their people went to the same boarding school as my people. my grandparents went to the Stuart Indian School, it's in Nevada, and they told me that he told me this story that they heard from his elders and he wanted to share it with you, the story goes that his little children were there, about five or six years old, and he shows at the boarding school, if you don't know what a boarding school is, look it up, it's a simulation school where the culture was literally beaten out of indigenous children, they started in 1879 and continued until the 2000s and what is this.
What happened is that her boy shows up, they cut his hair, they clean him, they put this burning powder on him just to get rid of the lice because they think Indians are dirty, and then the woman who is bathing him realizes that his elbows and knees are bigger. darker than the rest of him, which is common for people who have a little melanin in their skin, so she assumes he's dirty and rubs his elbows and knees and he peels the skin off until it bleeds and he it goes. to bed and he's crying and he's upset and he spends most of the night crying and when they come back to find out what all the noises are and they turned on the lights they see that he got his blood all over the sheets so they grab him.
They take him to another room and beat him for the next hour. All the kids at the boarding school can hear what's going on and then everything goes quiet and those kids never saw that kid again. I wanted to paint this picture because this is what I thought. of a boy standing naked and scared' with bloody elbows and knees and under the things that I have told you under the requirements that we have to be the best Indians we can for you, these stories do not matter. I maintain that they do matter and I am here as a result of I am here as a protest of the policies that were imposed on indigenous peoples.
I'm here despite those things. I am my grandparents' biggest dreams that should never have existed. come true and now and now I hope I have told you something new and I think I hope I have told you something perhaps even shocking and now you are all responsible for that information that the stories must be The stories that are carried must be kept. Stories are to be revered. What are you going to do with that information if you leave here and decide to do nothing? You are complicit in the actions of those who came before you and who helped you get to this place. ancestors, whoever they may be, but maybe ask yourself: are you creating spaces for Indigenous people in your home and workplace?
Are you creating inclusion in those places? Are you realizing that as you walk these lands there are people who walk these lands before you? that these are sacred and important things and that indigenous people are still here and that we matter and will always matter because this is the land of our heritage, this is the land that the Creator gave us, so what are you going to do with that information ? thanks to you

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