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MORE THAN A CENTURY

NATIVE ARTIST PERSPECTIVES ON CITIZENSHIP

RAMON SHILOH

(Mvskoke, Cherokee, Filipino, African American)

INVISIBLE PROBLEMS WELL DOCUMENTED

ARTIST STATEMENT

My art represents the oppression that forced Native people to live in regions unfit for any purpose other than to erase our legacy. Deemed subhuman, we were denied the opportunity to live in peace as citizens of the United States. The planted pot symbolizes reservations intended to exterminate our way of life. Red lines signify the fractures and bloodlines of our people, diverging from the “Red Road” Black Elk (Oglala Sioux) spoke of. The arm and fist in my work, titled “Growing Strength Through Oppression,” highlight our resilience.

The invisibility of Indigenous peoples is well documented in U.S. history. Some public officials strive to whitewash this past, hiding actions devoid of empathy or accountability. While some understand our history, they often lack the vision for a better future. Racial classifications like the one-drop rule and blood quantum were tools of oppression. Despite many Native peoples gaining U.S. citizenship in the 20th century, a deep sense of belonging and community has always defined us. As a mixed individual, I reflect on the Afro-Indigenous struggle for self-worth.

The U.S. is built on conflict, with a history of resisting racial equality and justice. Ignoring this legacy disrespects those who fought for progress. Today, issues like environmental degradation, food and housing insecurity, and violence against women and children are shared on social media but lack actionable frameworks. American extremists oppose the amplification of marginalized voices, turning history textbooks into battlegrounds. Acknowledging the full spectrum of U.S. history is vital for future generations. My work, “Invisible Problems Well Documented,” explores these issues and exposes the commodification of Indigenous culture.

ARTIST BIO

Ramon Shiloh (Mvskoke, Cherokee, Filipino, African American) is an award-winning author and illustrator. In 2018, he hosted a Chef’s Table at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. Shiloh is dedicated to supporting Indigenous children, using his expertise in food, art, and culture to inspire Native youth. He aims to foster a love for cooking that promotes good health and connects them to their heritage. His efforts emphasize the importance of cultural identity in an ever-changing world. Look forward to his upcoming project, “Star Stories for Little Dreamers,” a graphic novel.

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