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MORE THAN A CENTURY

NATIVE ARTIST PERSPECTIVES ON CITIZENSHIP

MER YOUNG

(Chicimeca & Apache)

PEOPLE OF THE LAND

ARTIST STATEMENT

Having ancestral ties, to my people — to the lands, in part, to the Four Corners of Arizona and New Mexico lands then moving past “American” borders into the terra of Mexico. I feel, now, in my adulthood, that my Indigenous identity shines vibrantly, yet I struggled throughout my childhood and young adult life to embrace who I was and where I belonged. In an American past story, Arizona and New Mexico were two of three states (Maine being the third) during the 20th century that our Native/Indigenous relatives were granted the right to vote. The last states! How was it/is it that the first people of Turtle Island be the LAST to receive such citizenship. What did it mean for my people, my family to be a citizen. Many of us converted and lied about who we were to have “better” lives, denying culture, language and even food, all to be a part of a dull, uncolorful way of life, here on our beloved Turtle Island our MotherLand. What is citizenship? The “English” word is defined by the Oxford Languages as “the position or status of being a citizen of a particular country.” But we were already “citizens,” we were and still are PEOPLE OF THE LAND, we belong(ed), with or without the government “occupying” territory. Citizenship is a status, as stated, and established by characteristics of colonialism. Tribal citizenship and the interaction of US citizenship in my personal experience has been deeply complex. Many times, I felt, why do I need legal documentation to prove that I belong on the lands that my grandmothers and grandfathers walked and tended to long before. My people are of the pueblos, we built our homes out of mud, we cultivated maize (corn), squash, beans, we were farmers, we gathered what we needed, the land flourished, we cared for all living things and did so much more. As an Indigenous artist, the responsibility I have to tell the times continues. To have sovereignty beyond the borders that have been implemented on us over lands, resources, traditions and visions are my hopes to visually convey.

ARTIST BIO

Mer Young (Chichimeca & Apache) is an Indigenous published multidisciplinary artist who has created a body of artwork manifested in collages, drawings, paintings, and founder of Mausi Murals public artworks. She lives and works on the traditional lands of Tongva (Long Beach, CA). She was nominated by Long Beach Living Absolute Best of Long Beach 2024 for Local Artist and Muralist. She is a BIPOC activist, steward of land and water and environmental justice advocate. Young’s artworks aim to inspire, celebrate and elevate indigenous and native cultures and to bring about change within Brown and Black communities. Young’s works have been included in numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally. Her public art works can be found in the East Village Arts District of Long Beach, CA, in The Sixth and Ninth District of Long Beach, CA, in The City of Glendale, CA, The City of South Pasadena, The City of San Pedro, The City of Paramount, The City of Anaheim, The City of Tustin and in the Art District of Los Angeles and the 3rd Ward in Houston, Texas.

Young holds Associate Degrees in Fine Arts and Liberal Arts from Long Beach City College and received her Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree from The University of Southern California. She also received Teaching Artist Certificate from California State Los Angeles and is currently working on obtaining Single Subject Credential Program (Art Education) from Puvungna | California State University Long Beach

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