Thursday, August 25, 2011

Unnamed


The Spokesman-Review published a short article regarding the dedication of the new Chief Spokane Garry monument. The reporter photographed several tribal members as we sang an honor song at the drum.

Oddly, the caption named several of the spectators, but not the drummers. This omission reminds me of a journalistic practice from a different age - a different century when white photographers rarely felt the need to mention the names of Native American subjects. Instead, they wrote captions like, "Indian man riding a horse," or "Indian woman with baby." Many of our ancestors may have posed for one portrait or another, but they were unnamed and forgotten as individuals - valued only for their image.

And just for the record, I don't really care about receiving any personal 'credit,' but I am concerned about reporting practices that make people invisible.  

2 comments:

Percy said...

I feel you. Sometimes people's deeply held beliefs, fears, biases, or ignorances (asleepness) are made manifest in unspoken ways.

Brian H. said...

Yes. We didn't ask to be photographed either, and I was a little baffled that he asked us for our names. I would have preferred for the drum circle to be in focus instead. The photo that I hoped would be in the paper was one of the actual sculpture. Your post highlights the tension between not promoting yourself yet raising awareness of culturally unhelpful practices.

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