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MORE THAN A CENTURY

NATIVE ARTIST PERSPECTIVES ON CITIZENSHIP

RYAN YOUNG

(Ojibwe)

I JUST WANT TO BE (2024)

ARTIST STATEMENT

When thinking about Native history in the 100 years since the signing of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, I think about the violence and genocide, the loss of cultures, languages, and traditions, due to greed for land and wealth. But I also think about the hard work and sacrifices that our tribal leaders, activists, warriors, have had to do in order to move our communities forward, preserve our languages, and maintain our sovereignty.

The U.S. government has played a heavy role in defining Native people through documents and legislation; assigning names and identities, and telling us who we are: Merciless Indian Savages. Indians. Native Americans. American Indians. Americans.

Since colonization, we have been navigating Turtle Island and the evolution of names and definitions that have been assigned to us. These definitions have evolved into stereotypes and guidelines to measure one’s Indigeneity. But Indigeneity is defined by our existence, not the other way around.

ARTIST BIO

Ryan Young (they/them/their), is a Two Spirit Ojibwe multi-disciplinary artist from Lac du Flambeau, WI. They graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts, completing their BFA in Studio Arts (Photography) and a certificate in Performing Arts. Their artwork focuses on increasing representation for Queer Indigenous/Two Spirit people, using a variety of mediums, including photography, silkscreen printing, projection and mixed media. They’ve also hosted multiple workshops focusing on Two Spirit identity/history, and they are one of the co-authors of the Indigenizing Love Toolkit: A Toolkit for Native Youth to Build Inclusion. After moving to Santa Fe in 2014 to attend IAIA, Young continued to work on a variety of projects and expanded their mediums into printmaking and performance. In 2018, Young was announced as Eighth Generation’s designing artist for the Two Spirit Blanket which was released later that year.

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