Artist Wendy Red Star works across disciplines to explore the intersections of Native American ideologies and colonialist structures, both historically and in contemporary society. Raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in Montana, Red Star’s work is informed both by her cultural heritage and her engagement with many forms of creative expression, including photography, sculpture, video, fiber arts, and performance. An avid researcher of archives and historical narratives, Red Star seeks to incorporate and recast her research, offering new and unexpected perspectives in work that is at once inquisitive, witty and unsettling. Intergenerational collaborative work with ten-year-old daughter Beatrice Red Star Fletcher is integral to her practice, along with creating a forum for the expression of Native women’s voices in contemporary art.
WOMEN’S MARCH, PORTLAND
Seeing women gather in numbers close to 100,000 provided an opportunity to show my daughter Beatrice the power of protest and how to navigate through turbulent political times.
THE 43RD DENVER MARCH POWWOW
As a teenager in the ’90s, I participated in the Denver March Powwow representing the Crow Nation as Miss No Water District Princess. To experience the Denver March powwow this time as a mom, as a spectator, and see my little girl dancing in a sea of indigenous movement representing the Apsáalooke in her traditional elk tooth dress made my heart swell with joy.
PORTLAND MAX ATTACK
MAY 27, 2017
I’m deeply sadden by the racially motivated attack of two teenage girls on the MAX Light Rail train. The bravery of Rick Best, Taliesin Namkai Meche, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher is not forgotten.
PRETTY EAGLE & THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
After traveling to New York City for my solo exhibition Wendy Red Star: Um-basax-bilua “Where They Make The Noise,” curated by Michelle Grabner at CUE Art Foundation, Beatrice and I made a stop at the American Museum of Natural History, an institution that once held the ancestral bones of Apsáalooke Chief, Pretty Eagle. Following the death of Pretty Eagle in 1903, his body was placed in a wagon box instead of the usual scaffold. His remains, along with those of 60 other tribal members, were removed from the burial sites along the Bighorn River in the early part of the 1900s by Bighorn County Sanitarian Dr. W. A Russell. The remains were sold to museums throughout the country—some for less than $500.
Through the Crow Cultural Commission, Chief Pretty Eagle’s remains were returned to the reservation, 72 years later. On June 4, 1994, the remains were carried to Pretty Eagle Point by a horse-drawn travois. His grave site overlooks the Bighorn Canyon about 10 miles southwest of Fort Smith. This was a major victory for the Apsáalooke nation.
CROW FAIR 2017
Every morning during the Crow Nation’s annual weeklong celebration, held since 1904, members of the Apsáalooke gather along the Little Bighorn River in Montana in a parade that expresses the deep-rooted cultural tradition of movement in Apsáalooke society. Families don traditional dress and display their horses during rituals that recall the migration from summer to winter camps. These parades pass on traditions from horse culture to car culture, from buffalo days to reservation life—weaving each generation into the fabric of a living, resilient tribal Nation.
Horses are a very important part of Apsáalooke culture, dating back to the early 1700s when members of the Apsáalooke Nation first encountered the horse. Cisco, my Pryor mustang, who won numerous dressage competitions, passed on to the other side of the camp in late August. I spent one last summer with him on my father’s ranch. Beatrice is pictured with him right before he passed away.
MEETING SACHEEN LITTLEFEATHER
Voted Best Actor for his role in The Godfather at the 45th Academy Awards in March 1973, Marlon Brando didn’t show up. Instead, Sacheen Littlefeather, the activist for Native American civil rights, stepped up to the podium on his behalf to decline the award. Her speech was a protest of the treatment of Native Americans by the film and television industry as well as a statement of solidarity with American Indian Movement activists then occupying the town of Wounded, South Dakota. Beatrice and I spotted Sacheen shopping in our favorite trading post, Lammers Trading Post, Hardin, Montana this year and asked to take a picture after thanking her for her activism.
NATIONAL DAY OF AWARENESS FOR
MISSING AND MURDERED NATIVE WOMEN AND GIRLS
In February, Congress moved to designate May 5, 2017 as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. In Lame Deer, Montana, marchers, including Sen. Steve Daines, participated in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Walk.
YOUNG APSÁALOOKE FEMINIST TOURS
OUR SIDE, MISSOULA ART MUSEUM
As a curator, I supported indigenous women artists through the exhibition, Our Side, on view at the Missoula Art Museum through February 24, 2018. Pictured: Tanya Lukin Linklater (Alutiiq), The treaty is in the body, 2013–2017 (wooden tables, delica beads, American Spirit cigarettes). Left, wall: Marianne Nicolson/‘Tayagila’ogwa (Scottish and Dzawada’enuxw First Nations People), La’am’lawisuxw ya’xuxsan’s ‘nalax (Then the Deluge of Our World Came), 2017 (acrylic and brass on wood). Center: Tanis S’eiltin (Tlingit), Untitled, 2017 (Merino wool felt, thread, metal grommets and snaps, fresh water pearls). Background: Elisa Harkins (Cherokee/Muscogee Creek), Fake Part 1, 2014 (fabric, feathers, beads, horsehair).