Author Topic: Posing as Native Artists (Was Academic Frauds)  (Read 2560 times)

Offline Diana

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Posing as Native Artists (Was Academic Frauds)
« on: June 04, 2021, 03:27:25 am »
https://www.indianz.com/News/2021/06/02/museum-wont-verify-claims-of-tribal-ancestry-after-artists-withdraw-from-show/


Museum won’t verify claims of tribal ancestry after artists withdraw from show

Native women raised alarms about exhibition in Massachusetts
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
By Acee Agoyo
Indianz.Com


The Fruitlands Museum in eastern Massachusetts doesn’t plan on verifying whether the artists it works with have connections to the tribes they claim even after two individuals withdrew from a new show.
Gina Adams, who claims to be Ojibwe and Lakota, and Merritt Johnson, who claims to be Mohawk, removed their works from “Echoes in Time: New Interpretations of the Fruitlands Museum Collection” when questions were raised about their tribal affiliations, The Boston Globe first reported in a story posted online on Tuesday. Neither are enrolled with any of the Indian nations they claim but a director at the facility doesn’t plan on changing how such matters are handled.
“I personally would not, nor would I recommend a curator call the tribe to verify,” Jessica May, the managing director of art and exhibitions at the Fruitlands Museum, told The Globe.
“I expect that if they claim that identity as their own, they are doing so truthfully,” May told the paper.

Even though Adams, who is an assistant professor and an assistant dean at Emily Carr University in Canada, withdrew her works, she is still credited as a co-curator of the show, which opens on Saturday. The way Fruitlands has handled the matter doesn’t sit well with the Native women who raised concerns about the exhibition, The Globe reported.
“I think they totally dropped the ball,” Leah Hopkins, a citizen of the Narragansett Tribe who is an administrator at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University, told the paper. “I’ve seen this happen so many times. It’s 2021. We’ve got to get with it.”
Although Hopkins serves on the Fruitlands Museum’s Native American Advisory Team, she told the paper that she was never informed about “Echoes in Time” in the first place. She didn’t know Adams was involved either, The Globe reported.
“We were completely in the dark about this,” Hopkins told the paper of the four-person Native advisory team. Two other Native women also approached the Fruitlands Museum about the show, The Globe reported.
Adams claims to be related to two Ojibwe leaders who signed the Treaty with the Chippewa of the Mississippi in 1867. She created a “Broken Treaty Quilt” in memory of her purported ancestors.
“The Treaty with the Chippewa of the Mississippi 1867 Broken Treaty Quilt has deep meaning to our family as our great great grandfather Waabaanaquot signed the treaty, as did a great great uncle Mishugiiziguk,” Adams says in an artist’s statement.


A work by Gina Adams at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art was marked as being available through a commercial art gallery. The facility identified Adams as “Ojibwe” and born in 1965 as part of a show that closed on May 31, 2021. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
She further indicated in her statement that she “discovered” her supposed connections to the Ojibwe treaty signatories after winning a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. She carried out her studies in 2016 at the Natural History Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian, according to her resume.
The signatories of the 1867 treaty include Wau-bon-a-quot and Mijaw-ke-ke-shik, according to a treaty volume. Negotiations were completed in Washington, D.C., in March of that year and the government-to-government agreement was ratified and proclaimed a month later.
Wau-bon-a-quot was known as a leader of the White Earth Nation, one of the federally recognized Ojibwe tribes in present-day Minnesota. Despite repeatedly boasting a connection to the treaty signer, Adams has acknowledged to allies that she is not a citizen of the tribe, The Globe reported.
“I’ve worked with Gina in the past and she has always been straightforward, candid, and transparent about her identity,” May of the Fruitlands Museum told the paper. “She’s not enrolled in a tribe and she’s never said she was enrolled.”

And while Adams has discussed on numerous occasions her supposed Ojibwe heritage, she does not explain her connection to the treaty signer other than to assert that her grandfather — her mother’s father, she recounts in a Brooklyn Museum video — was supposedly taken from the White Earth Nation at the age of 8 and sent to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. She says her grandfather “never returned” to his alleged place of origin.
“My grandfather used to call it ‘White man training school,’” Adams says of Carlisle in a video created for the Nordamerika Native Museum in Switzerland.
In the Brooklyn Museum video from May 2020, Adams says her maternal grandfather stayed at Carlisle for 10 years, until he was “roughly 18 years old.”
“He never returned to the reservation,” she says at around 10 minutes into the virtual presentation. “He was seen as one of the model students. He went into the Navy and then he became an organic farmer in southern Maine. ”
ginaadams
In 2021, Emily Carr University of Art + Design announced Gina Adams as Assistant Dean of Foundation. Photo: ECUAD
The Carlisle boarding school school operated from 1879 through 1918. It was founded by U.S. Army general Richard Henry Pratt, who advocated for a genocidal “Kill the Indian — Save the Man” approach when educating Native children.
Records kept by Dickinson College show that a number of Ojibwe children from Minnesota attended Carlisle during the time it was open. But with Adams’ maternal grandfather being two generations removed from Wau-bon-a-quot, who was born around 1830 and died in 1898, the timeframe for his supposed placement at the boarding school does not appear to match up.
Similarly, Adams at times has claimed to be “Lakota” but little information exists as to which other Indian nation she claims. Still, her stories have led to her works being featured and displayed by numerous institutions, including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, where she was identified as “Ojibwe” and born in 1965; the Museum of Fine Arts in Massachusetts, where one of her pieces was acquired through a “diverse collection” fund; and Dartmouth College, whose original mission was to educate Native students.

A number of her works are marketed as being available for sale, raising questions about compliance with the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. The federal law requires works marketed as Native to have been produced by a Native artisan, which is defined as a citizen of a federally- or state-recognized tribe, or by an artist certified as such by a tribal nation.
“Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act it is illegal to market art or craft products in a manner that falsely suggests it is Native American produced if it is not,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who is the first Native person to serve in a presidential cabinet, says in a video in support of Indian artists.
An individual who was quoted in The Globe article represents Adams in the commercial art market.
One of the Native women who raised questions about the Fruitland Museum show in fact asked the other co-curator, Shana Dumont Garr, whether the federal law was taken into account.
“I asked Shana if she’d done any due diligence, if she’d followed the Indian Arts and Crafts Act and checked what [Adams’s] tribal enrollment or status is, and she said she had not,” Erin Genia, a citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, told The Globe.
As for Johnson, she too admits that she is not enrolled in the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, based in New York, or with any of the Mohawk Nations across the border in Canada. Her biography asserts that she is “not claimed by, nor a citizen of any nation from which she descends.”

A recent virtual talk which was to feature Johnson and her work, which relies heavily on her experience as a person of “mixed” ancestry, was marked as “CANCELLED” by Simon Fraser University Like the educational institution where Adams works as a professor, SFU is located in the province of British Columbia in Canada. Johnson is also represented by Accola Griefen Fine Art, the same as Adams.
Emily Carr University described Adams’ hiring in 2019 as a means of “Indigenizing” the campus. She was touted as one of four full-time Indigenous faculty members at the time.
The “Echoes in Time” show in Massachusetts features “sixteen contemporary artists of Indigenous descent from throughout North America,” according to the Fruitlands Museum website. Participants include:
Norman Akers (Osage)
Marwin Begaye (Diné/Navajo)
Gregg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute)
Betsey Garand (French Canadian, English, Abenaki)
Brenda Garand (French Canadian, English, Abenaki)
Mimi Gellman (Anishinaabe/Ojibwe, Ashkenazi Jewish, Metis)
Margaret Jacobs (Akwesasne Mohawk)
George Longfish (Seneca, Tuscarosa)
Jacob Meders (Mechoopda/Maidu)
Dillen Peace (Diné/Navajo)
Sydney Jane Brooke Campbell Maybrier Pursel (Ioway)
Theresa Secord (Penobscot)
Alicia Smith (Xicana)
Alana Tapaha (Diné /Navajo)
Summer Zah (Navajo, Jicarilla Apache, Choctaw)
The exhibit runs through December 6.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2021, 10:07:23 pm by educatedindian »

Offline Sparks

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Re: Academic Frauds
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2021, 10:57:05 pm »

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Posing as Native Artists (Was Academic Frauds)
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2021, 10:05:51 pm »
The thread title wasn't accurate. Only one of the imposters, Gina Adams, is an academic, and her impersonation was mostly posing as a Native artist.

Article also lists Merritt Johnson as an imposter. Artistic fraud, not academic. Others are said to possibly be frauds also, all of them as artists, not academics.

We have a number of separate threads on frauds in academia, each devoted to one person. Adams and Johnson deserve separate threads.

All the other names in the article need to be looked at, either to confirm being imposters or clear their names. Canada and New England have plenty falsely claiming to be Metis or Abenaki in recent years. Perhaps they are the most likely here.

Moving to News.

Offline Diana

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Re: Posing as Native Artists (Was Academic Frauds)
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2022, 10:38:12 pm »
Because this article is so long I have to post it in parts.

https://www.macleans.ca/longforms/the-curious-case-of-gina-adams-a-pretendian-investigation/


The Curious Case of Gina Adams: A “Pretendian” investigation


She was hired by Emily Carr University in an effort to recruit Indigenous faculty. Then questions arose about her identity.
Sep 06, 2022 Michelle Cyca


On a sunny afternoon in June of 2018, artist Gina Adams took the stage at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. She wore a large medallion of colourful beads, which caught the light and glittered as she spoke.

Adams, who was in her early 50s at the time, talked nervously but with evident delight as she expressed her gratitude for being selected as summer artist-in-residence for the department of studio art. She took a deep breath and greeted the audience in Anishinaabemowin, her voice and manner relaxing momentarily as she spoke: “Boozhoo, aaniin.”

Adams began by talking about her Ojibwe grandfather. “As a young child, I spent time with him, walking through the woods, talking about plants and spirit medicine. My grandfather is of Midewiwin descent, and I am of Midewiwin descent from the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota,” she said. “My grandfather, however, was removed at age eight. He was sent to the Carlisle School.” The Carlisle Indian Industrial School, founded in 1879 in Pennsylvania, was the model institution for the 367 federally run residential schools in the United States, which sought to forcibly assimilate Indigenous children.

Adams was born in Connecticut and grew up in York, Maine, a seaside town two hours’ drive from Dartmouth. Her artwork is heavily influenced by the crafting traditions of her Lithuanian and Irish-American ancestors, and by the history of violent displacement and cultural fracturing of Indigenous communities. According to Adams, her great-great-grandfather was the Ojibwe chief Wabanquot, signatory to the Treaty with the Chippewa of the Mississippi. She is often pictured wrapped in one of her pieces from the Broken Treaty Quilts series, in which she embroiders the text of 19th-century treaties on vintage quilts.

In a 2020 interview with Public Radio Tulsa, she explained that the inspiration for the series came to her in a dream. “My Anishinaabeg ancestors are very tied and connected to our dreams, and with the medicine that can come from our dreams,” she said. “I’m very directed intuitively that way.” As a child, she told the interviewer, she was haunted by recurring nightmares of Indigenous people being massacred; her grandfather would take her for walks and calm her by speaking Ojibwe.

A year after her residency at Dartmouth, Adams joined the faculty at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, a small, public post-secondary institution in Vancouver. She was one of four new Indigenous faculty members recruited as part of a targeted cluster hire, which brought the number of Indigenous faculty to nine and increased the faculty body to 74. In a press release, Gillian Siddall, the university’s president and vice-chancellor, wrote that the cluster hire signalled “our genuine commitment to Indigenization and creating a safe cultural space for Indigenous students.”

The moment of triumph did not last. Soon after the hire, doubts about Adams’s identity cast a shadow on the school, and led to conflict among faculty, staff and students. The allegations raised serious questions about how universities hire Indigenous people—and what administrators should do if a professor is not who she claims to be.

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada made 94 calls to action, among them that the federal government must eliminate the education gap between Indigenous people and other Canadians. Many universities have embraced that call (and the federal funding that accompanies it) by increasing Indigenous representation in their institutions. This practice of “Indigenizing” includes increasing the number of Indigenous students, faculty and administrators, often through targeted enrolment or hiring. Though nearly five per cent of Canadians identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit, only 1.3 per cent of full-time university faculty members are Indigenous, according to a 2019 report by Universities Canada. Increasing this percentage isn’t easy, since Indigenous people are also underrepresented in graduate programs, which produce faculty members.

“Adams did not resign or apologize, nor did she respond publicly with an explanation. My doubts about her identity deepened.”

The result is fierce competition among universities, who seek to attract Indigenous candidates by decreasing barriers, such as academic qualifications or prior teaching experience, and increasing opportunities. Cluster hiring—the process of recruiting multiple faculty members at the same time—is a popular strategy among universities eager to demonstrate their commitment to reconciliation. In 2017, McGill University resolved to hire up to 10 faculty who, the university said: “have lived experience and expertise in Indigenous knowledges, epistemologies, methodologies, histories, traditions, languages, or systems of laws and governance.” The following year, the University of Guelph made a cluster hire of six Indigenous faculty members. Between 2020 and 2021, OCAD University, Memorial University and the University of Waterloo announced Indigenous cluster hiring initiatives.

Emily Carr posted five positions in February of 2019. By the glacial standards of the academic job market, the cluster hire moved swiftly. By August, the school had hired four new faculty members. Among them was Adams, who’d been teaching at Naropa University, a private college in Boulder, Colorado. In the university’s announcement, Adams was described as “a contemporary Indigenous hybrid artist of Ojibwa Anishinaabe and Lakota descent of Waabonaquot of White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.” Adams began teaching in the first-year undergraduate program called Foundation, which all Emily Carr undergraduates take, that September, including a course called Aboriginal Material Practice, introducing students to traditional and contemporary Indigenous art and design techniques.

When Adams began teaching at Emily Carr, I was working at the school as a communications officer. I had been in my job for 14 months and I was excited about the new faculty members. For my job, I wrote stories about the powerful artwork created by our Indigenous students and alumni. Many of them spoke about the importance of their Indigenous teachers, like Xwalacktun (born Rick Harry), an Emily Carr alumnus and master carver of Squamish and Kwakwaka’wakw ancestry, and Mimi Gellman, a long-time professor and interdisciplinary artist. I, too, had been deeply affected by the Indigenous mentorship and support I received as a student.

Offline Sparks

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Re: Posing as Native Artists (Gina Adams)
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2022, 10:43:38 pm »
https://www.macleans.ca/longforms/the-curious-case-of-gina-adams-a-pretendian-investigation/

Emily Carr University's response:
https://www.ecuad.ca/news/2022/statement-macleans-indigenous-identity
Quote
Statement on the Maclean's Article about Indigenous Identity

By Emily Carr University
Posted on September 06, 2022 | Updated September 06, 2022, 5:09pm


Emily Carr University (ECU) is committed to reconciliation, Indigenization and decolonization, and that includes our approach to hiring Indigenous faculty members according to best practices, which continue to evolve.

As part of deepening this commitment, in 2019 we undertook an initiative to hire more Indigenous faculty who offer extensive expertise in art, media and design. Gina Adams was hired as part of this effort.

This was a rigorous process that involved interviews with ECU’s hiring committee, which included Indigenous faculty and staff, a public presentation, and one-on-one meetings with Indigenous students, Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty members. While this is an evolving area, ECU is confident this hiring process followed best practice at the time.

Emily Carr University takes very seriously the allegations that a member of our faculty made a false claim to Indigenous identity.

We can confirm that Gina Adams resigned from her position at Emily Carr University on August 25, 2022.


The complex matter of Indigenous identity as it relates to hiring has been the subject of debate within universities and Indigenous communities in recent years. We welcome these conversations and along with our peers, ECU is grappling with these complexities as best practices rapidly advance.

We are committed to finding a way forward and will be undertaking an Indigenous-led external review to make recommendations for how we assess identity in a culturally-appropriate way when hiring for positions designated for Indigenous candidates.

This review will help accelerate the strides forward we have already made. Over the past two years, ECU has instituted mandatory unconscious bias and diversity training for faculty hiring committees, worked with external experts and search firms specializing in hiring for designated positions, and provided training on how to thoughtfully and appropriately probe a candidate’s connection to community, among other actions.

There are a multitude of viewpoints on this matter within Indigenous communities, and Indigenous leaders at ECU are actively participating in this national conversation. We are eager to strengthen our approach as best practices evolve.

Emily Carr University will continue making the necessary changes to ensure our hiring practices align with our deep commitment to reconciliation — and ensure that ECU continues to be an inclusive environment where Indigenous students, staff and faculty can thrive.

https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2022/09/09/alleged-%E2%80%98pretendian%E2%80%99-professor-resigns

The resignation reported in several other places, e.g.:
https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/emily-carr-prof-resigns-fake-indigenous
https://www.gangsterismout.com/2022/09/indigenous-scholar-finally-resigns.html
https://hyperallergic.com/758937/artist-accused-of-faking-indigenous-identity-quits-university-post/
https://www.gallerieswest.ca/news/professor-challenged-as-pretendian-steps-down-at-emily-carr-university/

About one year earlier:
https://www.indianz.com/News/2021/06/02/museum-wont-verify-claims-of-tribal-ancestry-after-artists-withdraw-from-show/

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gina_Adams

Her own site: https://www.ginaadamsartist.com/

Her 2021 heritage statement is still there. For the record I quote in full in case it disappears:

My name is Gina Adams and I am the granddaughter of Albert Edmund Theriault and this is my family genealogy as told to me. When I was a young girl my grandfather told me that he was of Chippewa: Ojibwe-Lakota descent and that he was born and raised as a young boy on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. He related to me that when he was eight years old, he was removed from White Earth by a man named Charles Wright and sent to the Carlisle Indian School. He talked about hiding in the woods for two days at a time to evade the authorities who were abducting the children to be sent to residential school. My grandfather was eventually captured by his relative Charles Wright and was sent to this boarding school by train. His only redeeming hope was that his older siblings would be there. He told me that the thing that soothed him was whispering the Ojibwe names of the plants in his mind so as to not forget. He remarked that Carlisle was a "white man's training school" and that he was taught to build stone walls and ice skating rinks, to do metal work and to work on farms and orchards doing horticulture landscaping work to make a living wage. He did this work-for-hire his entire adult life. I know this information because he told it to me when I was a child, when I lived with him in his home. Albert was my mother's father and he died in 1975 we believe that he was about 75 or 78 years old when he passed, but we don’t know the exact year of his birth as he did not have a birth certificate nor other such documentation.

When my grandfather left this boarding school which he identified as Carlisle Indian School, he never returned to White Earth Reservation, or the homeland where he came from. My grandfather became a sea wall builder and traveled for many years doing this work.  He met my Lithuanian grandmother, my mother's mother, in 1936 in Rhode Island and they fell in love and eloped. My maternal grandmother, born in 1914, told me that her father and family did not approve of my grandfather as she was white and he was “a colored Indian”. When they eloped, they chose the new last name of Theriault, a name that neither of them had had before their marriage. In order to evade and thwart the serious miscegenation laws at the time (laws that forbade mixed-race marriages) my Ojibwa grandfather Albert made the difficult decision to identify as a white man. My grandparents were very protective of each other and afraid of the racism they would face if anyone found out they were a mixed-race family and so outside of the house my grandparents maintained the story that they were French Canadian, though we had no relatives in Canada. In the year 1943, they gave birth to my mother who grew up on the farmland that my grandfather Albert had purchased in Maine. She was the middle of nine children.

I was born in Groton, CT in 1965 to my mother Elaine and my biological father R.Hurley (of Irish descent) who was serving in the US Navy and was often away at sea for long periods of time. We moved to California after my birth and when I was eight, my mother, weary of raising three children on her own, divorced my biological father and moved my sisters and me back to Maine to live with my grandparents permanently. We lived in my grandparents’ home with them for almost two years. Within six months of returning to Maine, my mother began dating Philip Adams who ultimately became my stepfather through marriage and that is the family name that I now carry.

When my family lived with my Ojibwa grandfather Albert, I spent much time going on walks with him, learning about plants and bees and asking many questions. On one occasion I asked him who our relatives were and he told me very clearly, Waabaanaquot and Mishugeeziguck from White Earth. He told me their names and the name of Charles Wright numerous times so that I would always remember them. Everyday also held an Ojibwa language lesson in which he would introduce me to the plants both wild and organically cultivated on my grandparents’ land.

In late 2016, I received a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (SARF) through which I researched the archives of the Carlisle Indian Boarding School, and in particular, the photographic images taken by John Choate, who was the first official photographer. I was at the Smithsonian in DC for a total of 11 weeks and I spent eight weeks looking at thousands of images. In the archives I found hundreds of images of my great-great grandfather Waabaanaquot and his family and subsequently spent the next several weeks looking at the photographs, records and journals that accompanied them. I discovered that Charles Wright was the son of my great-great grandfather Waabaanaquot from a delegation photo that was included in the archives. I recently learned that my great-great-grandfather Waabaanaquot converted to Catholicism late in his life and adopted the name, D.W.Wright, after the name of his Episcopalian mentor and this explains why his son Charles had the last name of Wright. Charles Wright became a model student at Carlisle and after graduating became a minister and an Indian agent who was responsible for taking other native children to Indian boarding schools. I looked for childhood images of my grandfather as a student in the hundreds of images of children that John Choate photographed. I unfortunately did not find my grandfather's likeness. Because my family does not know my grandfather's birth name, we are also not sure what name he would have been enrolled under. We, without a doubt believe my grandfather's many stories of attending Carlisle boarding school as a youth as his memories were very graphic and told of the pain inflicted upon his mind and body. He told stories of abuse and neglect and desperate loneliness in missing his family. I did not learn of the history of the U.S. Indian boarding schools in my K-12 education, nor did I in undergrad. I learned this history from my grandfather during the private education lessons he gave me that started when I was at the tender age of five. I believe it, as does my mother and many other family members.

My mother divorced my biological father and remarried. We lived on Adams Road just four houses away from my great-grandmother Clara's farmhouse. I spent all my spare time when I wasn't in school with my mother's parents who lived just up the road from us. I heard many stories from my grandfather and always asked questions. My grandfather continued to hunt and to fish and to speak Ojibwe. He also knew how to trap animals and taught my mother. He would often take my mother and me fishing. To this day my mother uses her knowledge of natural trapping animals and taking them to safer locations outside of her gardens. I am thankful that I grew up protected and with plenty of love. Most importantly, I am grateful for deep centered belief that if you care for, love, and protect your family that your life will be filled with abundance and the clarity the future generations with not only survive but will also thrive.

I came to my artistic practice through my lived experience. I learned how to sew and make quilts from both sides of my family and I have been an artist and maker my whole life. My great-grandmother Adams was a quilt-maker and I used to watch her make her quilts when we visited her every weekend. She made quilts for each of her three children, 22 grandchildren (my adopted father was one of them) and her 100 great grandchildren, which now included my sisters and me. My mother's sister and my mother's mother taught me how to sew. When I was ten years old, I learned how to make applique quilt squares with my aunt and subsequently when I was twelve years old, my aunt took me to a quilt shop to teach me how to pick fabrics to make a quilt top. This was my first lesson in color theory; combining that lesson with the Albers and Itten color theories that I learned as an undergraduate at the Maine College of Art, I use this knowledge of color to this day when choosing the fabrics for each of my Broken Treaty Quilts.

The U.S. government signed and ratified 370 treaties with Indigenous nations from 1778 to 1871.  Among the promises made in the treaties were a guarantee of peace, a definition of land boundaries, preservation of hunting and fishing rights, and provisions for protection against domestic and foreign enemies. While it is officially acknowledged that at least 15 of these treaties were broken, many argue the number is much higher.  My work, Broken Treaty Quilts, (please see the menu bar beside this Heritage Statement) concentrates on spelling out the words, the promises and pledges that the government broke. Ultimately, this artwork and process has always been about educating all people so that they know about this several hundred year history of assimilation, annihilation and removal this country’s First People that has been wholly ignored and overlooked in the American educational system. In the more than seven years since starting this body of artwork, I have talked to literally thousands of people who want to learn and who also wish to help heal the people who suffered so much devastation and loss. Those of us who are here on this planet all have a responsibility to take part in this healing. We need to acknowledge that the healing begins with ourselves and then filters into our communities. The impact of good intention can have ripples of goodness in perpetuity. 

My research and academic journey have been focused on how I can tell this American tragedy of disconnection from one’s cultures in a way that can create change for all people who are part of this history. Unpacking my identity and embracing my heritage has been difficult and challenging. Throughout my life, I have met others who have a similar history and who have shared stories that were passed down to them. In every place I have lived I have reached out to Native communities where people were enrolled and also to those people that were unrecognized and not enrolled. I have attended language immersion schools, joined language circles and dedicated my life to continuing to be a student of the Ojibwe language. I have been the one within my family determined to not let our language die, for I know that the language holds the spirit and ways of knowing of my ancestors. Everything I know about my heritage was given to me by my family, who passed these understandings and family names down to me. We acknowledge among us, who we are, and that our mixed identity is both Ojibwa and settler American. The work that I do addresses the breach in my history and of those others who are like me. This is at the core of my contemporary art practice and my life's work. Of particular importance to me is my quilted Broken Treaty series because I believe that we cannot change and create a better future if we don’t acknowledge history and the wrongs that have been done.

I have been transparent about my lineage throughout my life. I am Ojibwa by descent only and not enrolled. My continued research on our ancestry is ongoing, and private to be shared with only myself and my family.

I deeply apologize to anyone that I have hurt or offended by trying to connect to my family’s heritage. I know that I have still not found the paper trail connection to White Earth Reservation and I know that until I do that I have no claim to any connection to them. I will spend the rest of my life researching this connection and will do so in a truthful and honest way.

To those people on social media who have questioned my legitimate heritage, I say nothing. In some small circles, there is a current trend involving hateful people who are calling others out in society and engaging in the online and printed violence and social torture of innocent people who are of mixed heritage and trying to belong in the world. They are hurting whole families, from grandparents to great-great grandchildren. The flip side of this is that innocent hard-working people are being attacked for their identity. For What Purpose?  Inflicting such nastiness re-ignites the enormous pain resulting from centuries of trauma. How and when do we actually start healing? How do we learn to accept others who are the same but different? How do we acknowledge that while colonization and its assimilation annihilation practices gave some people a paper trail with a number of identification that is recognized by communities and governments, many others had no paper trail or documentation of proof and were subsequently cast out of their communities. Not having a paper trail doesn't prove that people of mixed heritage don't exist. The proof for some, like myself, is alive within our family stories that continue to be passed down and we believe them with our hearts and minds for we know who our ancestors are. While I was taking part in a language circle, a very wise Ojibwa elder once told me that our Ancestors always know who we are, and I feel blessed to hold this wisdom in my heart and soul.

Thank you for taking the time to read the truthful and heartfelt words that I have written.

Gigawaabaamin Minawaa. Miigwetch. Until we meet each other again, thank you.

Sincerely,
Gina Adams