From 1880 and into the modern era, the U. S. government forced thousands of Native children into residential schools under the policy of “Kill the Indian and Save the Man,” in the mistaken belief that only through assimilation could Native people survive. Stripped of their languages and traditions, and forced to endure starvation, disease and abuse, many internalized their ordeal through alcoholism and suicide, thus creating a cycle of trauma felt by subsequent generations. In this installation of twelve photographic prints, Matika Wilbur up-ends the manifesto of cultural genocide in provocative works that lay bare issues of contemporary “Indian-ness,” and the resolve of a new generation to express their identities, not by past trauma, but in modern, complex and surprising ways.
–Barbara Brotherton, Curator of Native American Art
City of Dreams and Mr. Runningwater, 2010, Matika Wilbur, Swinomish/Tulalip, silver gelatin print, 11 x 14 in., Courtesy of the artist