25 November 2021
City council meetings, school council meetings; not only do we begin with the pledge of allegiance, we begin with the declaration that we are on unceded land, taken from the Tongva and Chumash tribes. Knowing that “literature is news that remains news”, it took some time for the story to grab the headlines.
November is Indigenous History Month, and the happy fairy tale of the first Thanksgiving has dissolved under the weight of historical facts. Being aware of our need to change is the first part of making these changes.
Our new habit of starting public meetings with the statement that we are standing on stolen land is one that I’m sure doesn’t happen all over our country – although I’ve been told it does. in parts of Canada. It drew my attention to the realization that recognizing this factual history of this country – as opposed to popular legends or cherished myths – is key to our collective future.
This is really nothing new, but it depends on who wrote the textbooks or designed the program. Where I went to elementary school in New Jersey, we learned more about the Lenni Lenape tribe than anything across the Hudson River. My history classes were also very busy with the American Revolution, as many battles were fought in New Jersey. Anything that didn’t happen in New Jersey didn’t deserve to be placed in a manual. Whoever wrote these textbooks felt strongly that there was New Jersey, and then there was the rest of the world.
Having been to school in several other states, I came very early to the proof that history is (where are we?) Or (who are we?)
Desert X’s 2021 annual outdoor art exhibit featured an interpretation of the Hollywood Sign as part of the stimulating displays in the desert near Palm Springs last year. Nicholas Galanin, Tlingit and Unangax̂ artist and musician, appropriated the concept of signage and used it to arouse genuine reflection on the question of memory and territory. “The 45-foot letters of Never forget reference to the Hollywood sign, which originally spelled out HOLLYWOODLAND and was erected to promote white-only development. “
Call work Never forget also echoes the Holocaust motto of WWII which claimed the lives of millions of people. The six million Jews who were murdered were in the same camps as the other four million people the Nazis killed – to consider just six million, Polish patriots, French feminists, Hungarian homosexuals and Italian anarchists have suffered the same fate. You didn’t have to be of a particular ethnicity to be murdered by the Nazis. Just disagree.
Galanin makes more than a creative statement. “Never forget calls on landowning settlers to participate in the work by transferring land titles and management to local indigenous communities. The work is a call to action and a reminder that land recognition only becomes performative when it does not explicitly support the movement back to the land. “
Just as advertising can be an inspiration for art, we can use these words to open up our perspective. But the challenge is that – like the pledge of allegiance – they can simply become a rote repeat. Understanding that we are on stolen soil should inspire us to do more than just recognize the problem.
But it is a start.
Culver City Crossroads is the premier source of news, events, politics, education, and culture. they are there to serve the community, bond and have fun.