When our feet touch the ground, we touch our ancestors.
– Ken Workman (Duwamish)
Everywhere you walk, you are on Indigenous land. Whether spoken in reverence or shouted in protest, whether considering the past, present, or future, even when dislocated from homelands, the central issue for Indigenous people will always be the land and sovereignty. Indigenous territories describe the ancestral and contemporary connections of Indigenous peoples to a geographical area defined by kinship ties, occupation, seasonal travel routes, trade networks, resources, spiritual beliefs, and cultural and linguistic connections to place. Politically, the “land question” between First Peoples and governments is rooted in competing ideas of authority and clashing conceptions of identity and ownership.
The artists in this exhibition use traditional and contemporary visual expressions that acknowledge the interconnectedness of humans and the land and the critical need to protect the earth against degradation. Traditional art forms like basketry, wood carving, and weaving are storehouses of memory, marking ancestral origins and movements across the landscape. New forms of storytelling in painting, printmaking, and video create new spaces for justice and understanding.
The First People, 2008, Susan Point, Musqueam, b. 1951, red and yellow cedar, 144 x 89 in., Margaret E. Fuller Purchase Fund, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2008.31, © Susan Point