Indigenous Peoples’ Day October 10 Saluting Wendy Red Star

“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” African Proverb

One little-known fact about Indigenous people is that we excel at “counting coup” on our oppressors through the nonviolent resistance of satire. Why exert the energy to slay one’s enemies when one can laugh at them instead? The Crow multimedia artist Wendy Red Star understands the art of “Indi’n humor” as well as anyone, as evidenced by her cunning deployment of bigoted tropes in her 2014 series “White Squaw.”


At the heart of Red Star’s artistic output is an inquisitive celebration of Crow culture. In 2014, another online research session led Red Star to a series of portraits of Crow chiefs taken in 1880, by Charles Milton Bell, on the occasion of their visit to Washington, D.C., to meet with the President. In an interview included in the new book, Red Star explains that she wanted viewers to understand that the various accoutrements the men posed with—brass rings, conch shells, an eagle-claw bracelet and eagle feathers—were meaningful expressions of Crow identity. To that end, she scribbled detailed notes on the portraits with a red-ink pen, some cheeky and imaginative, some sobering and historically relevant: “I can kick your ass with these eyes”; “My body sold to a collector for $500.00 and kept for 72 years at the American Museum of Natural History.” She noted, of her approach, “I wanted that red mark on history.”

Born in 1981, in Billings, Montana, Red Star is the child of a white mother who worked for the Indian Health Service on the Crow Reservation, and a Crow father who was a game warden for the tribe. Her parents eventually split, and Red Star recalls spending weekends with her father, riding horses while he worked and ranched their land. After graduating from high school, which she attended just off the reservation, in Hardin, Red Star earned a bachelor of fine arts at Montana State University at Bozeman, then an M.F.A. in sculpture from U.C.L.A., where she studied under Catherine Opie and John Baldessari. Today her work is in the permanent collections of moma, the Met, the Whitney, and the British Museum, among others. A new book from Aperture and Documentary Arts, titled “Delegation,” represents the first comprehensive monograph of her work.


mon oct 10 2022 REmbr… G is, as G can only BE. GOOD