I Said I Would Never Paint This Way Again

Traditional Native healers call illness “dis-ease”, referring to the imbalance between the body and the spirit. Many contemporary indigenous people suffer from multi-generational illnesses that are easily attributed to the long reaching impact of institutionalized racism. Forced government practices like removing children from family and culture to be assimilated in boarding schools stripped many native people of their sense of tribal identity; the philosophy of “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” was enforced, sometimes brutally, on a daily basis. Other policies like federal relocation isolated rural Indian families, placing them in cities far from tribal support or means of self-sustenance. Government commodities are still being used today by many families living at poverty level- these processed foods have been directly linked to diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

The denying of one’s culture (and consequently, one’s self) comes at a huge cost: anger, frustration and despair contribute to the staggering statistics of alcoholism, domestic abuse, drug addiction and suicide so rampant among native communities. Physical ailments abound, many of which are chronic reminders of the “dis-ease” that plagues contemporary Indigenous people. But in Oklahoma City, a group of five established Native American artists have partnered to help heal in an untraditional way, using their work as the Urban Indian 5.

Additional Websites: http://www.urbanindian5.com/