Author Topic: Gail Tremblay  (Read 26847 times)

Offline educatedindian

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Gail Tremblay
« on: July 03, 2022, 06:15:03 pm »
Got a request about her. The genealogy research below isn't mine, passing it along.

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She's claimed some variation of "Mi'kmaq and Onondaga" for 40 plus years. This is prominent in her bios as artist, poet, academic (currently at The Evergreen State College in Olympia WA).

The buzz at Evergreen is that she is not who she claims she is.

Tremblay appears to be highly regarded as an artist and poet.

When she teaches, some of her abrasive nature is excused by students with a version of "that's just how strong Native women are". She also is seriously visibly disabled, her ongoing medical challenges are not stabilized (she screams in pain sometimes in class, she does not have adequate caregivers etc.), my guess is this also makes folks less likely to question her.

Her main gallery rep is Froelick Gallery in Portland OR. Once they were notified about the Indian Arts and Crafts Act the only changes they made:

from "Gail Tremblay  (Mi'kmaq and Onondaga)"

https://web.archive.org/web/20200601134140/https://froelickgallery.com/artists/53-gail-tremblay/overview/

to "Gail Tremblay is descended from Onondaga and Micmac ancestors"

https://froelickgallery.com/artists/53-gail-tremblay/overview/

But she doesn't even have descent.

She was born 15 Dec 1945 in Buffalo NY. 1950 federal census she, sister, parents are all listed white, as are her paternal grandparents living next door. No one else in her family ever identifies as anything other than white. Census, vital records, military, obits, society news - all white.

Her claims in media and artist bios since about 1980:

"Onondaga Indian"

"Onondaga, MicMac and French Canadian descent"

"Iroquois/MicMac/French/English"

"father's father was of the Onondoga tribe, her father's mother was of the Mic Macs in Nova Scotia"

"Indian artist of Onondoga, MicMac heritage"

"Onondoga, MicMac, Canadian descent"

"member of the Onondaga and Micmac nations of upstate New York"

"Native American artist of the Micmac tribe (mother) and Iroquois/Onondaga (father)"

"member of Onadoga tribe"

"Gail Tremblay (Mi’kmaq and Onondaga) is a contemporary artist, educator, and Indigenous Elder"

----

In 1996 for an art installation piece she included an "army blanket she was issued as a freshman at Haskell Indian College in Kansas".

Parents:
Roland G Tremblay 1917 - 2013
Leela Mae Young 1923 -

Paternal grandparents
Peter Ernest Tremblay 1886 - 1957
Maria B Demers 1887 - 1977

maternal grandparents:
Walter Frederic Young Sr 1898 - 1979
Rae Mildred Holcomb 1896 - 1952

At least 4 generations of this family, no sign of descent, heritage, or of membership in a Nation.

Gail Tremblay's past stories/teachings for media read oddly primitive, sorta pan Indian. Signs of her adjusting her claims perhaps to keep up with times and deflect questions.

Her art pieces go for big $$$ https://froelickgallery.com/artists/53-gail-tremblay/works/

Along with selling through Froelick Gallery, she is active as an artist in other shows including https://froelickgallery.com/news/164-gail-tremblay-featured-in-a-group-exhibition-at-subversive-media-materiality-power/

Her current faculty page https://www.evergreen.edu/directory/people/gailtremblay has no claim but it used to read "Onondaga and Micmac ancestry"
https://web.archive.org/web/20201228031425/https://www.evergreen.edu/directory/people/gailtremblay

She is listed "(Micmac/Onondaga)" on The Evergreen State College Longhouse page https://www.evergreen.edu/longhouse/staff-and-advisory-board

Keep this in mind:

"In order to be considered Onondaga, your line MUST be enrolled by 1875, as all those considered legitimate were already tracked. Also, enrollment/membership in the Onondaga Nation is based on MATRILINEAL descent. In other words, the mother must be an enrolled member in order for the children to be enrolled. Keep in mind that our records list ONLY members. If an enrolled Onondaga man married a non-Onondaga woman, the names of the wife and the resulting non-enrolled children DO NOT APPEAR in our records

As an additional point of information, too often we receive inquiries from individuals who erroneously believe they descend from the “Iroquois Tribe”."

https://www.onondaganation.org/aboutus/genealogy-inquiries/

Sent in info to Indian Arts and Crafts Board https://www.doi.gov/iacb/should-i-report-potential-violation

Gail Tremblay is English and French Canadian. Yet she has represented herself as Native for at least 40 years as a working artist, poet, someone to interview about Thanksgiving, and as a teacher.

Offline Diana

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Re: Gail Tremblay
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2022, 11:10:54 pm »
I looked at both sides of Gail Tremblay's family and got as far as the early 1800s, 1813, 1812, 1814 and 1826. All of Father's side are French Canadian immigrants. I wouldn't be surprised if Gail Tremblay was fluent in French. Her mother's side are all from Connecticut and Massachusetts. There are some early ggggrandparents from New York and one ggggrandfather was an immigrant from England. There no way this person is even remotely Indian.

Offline Sandy S

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Re: Gail Tremblay
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2023, 12:10:43 am »
(I'm using a friend's login, I've not been able to successfully register an account myself. I provided the original info for this research thread on Gail Tremblay.)

Gail Tremblay died on May 3, 2023. She was being investigated by the Indian Arts & Crafts Board assigned authorities at the time but died before court, public announcement, or other consequences. For verification of the fact that she was not enrolled in the Onondaga Nation - here is how to contact them https://www.onondaganation.org/aboutus/contactus/

The gallery that represented her has updated their bio of her, to my mind they use weasel words to try to soften the fraud:

Quote
She recently clarified that though she said her father had Indigenous ancestry, she was not an enrolled member of an Indigenous Nation. Preliminary research of tribal government records does not confirm her extended family's enrollment , nor has she been certified by an Indigenous Nation as a non-member Native American artisan.. Finding exact details of her history and genealogy are now additionally challenged with her recent passing and none of her immediate family members are living. As a result, Gail's work may not be described as of Native American origin or as made by a non-member Native American artisan of an Indigenous Nation.  Froelick Gallery is honored to have worked with Gail for the past 20 years of her life.  Her artwork, poetry, and writings stand on their own as treasured contributions to the American and Native American experience.

https://froelickgallery.com/artists/53-gail-tremblay/overview/

Gail Tremblay lied when she claimed for decades that she was enrolled in a federally recognized tribe. This is a fact - not "preliminary", or a case of "does not confirm". Also this: "Finding exact details of her history and genealogy are now additionally challenged with her recent passing" is not at all true.

There are still many bios out there that rely on her claims. No one should be selling her art under her false claims, that would be illegal.

If you know of possible Indian and Arts Crafts Board violations, please report them: https://www.doi.gov/iacb/should-i-report-potential-violation I used this report system successfully, I'm pleased with the response. IACB has the staff and dedication.

Here is a very recent example of other IACB work: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ak/pr/washington-man-receives-monumental-sentence-indian-arts-and-crafts-act-case#:~:text=JUNEAU%2C%20Alaska%20%E2%80%93%20A%20Washington%20state,two%20years%20in%20federal%20prison.

Offline Sandy S

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Re: Gail Tremblay
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2023, 12:57:21 am »
Uploaded here is a clip of an extensive article of her false claims, from Omaha World-Herald
28 Oct 1977, Fri · Page 17.

I've read through many newspaper articles on Gail Tremblay. Along with this clip I uploaded, another bit that stood out is from The Boston Globe, 15 Feb 1996, Thu · Page 84:

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Gail Tremblay's untitled installation piece is built around an army blanket she was issued as a freshman at Haskell Indian Junior College in Kansas, along with earmuffs, white Converse All-Stars and 10 pairs of athletic socks.

Gail Tremblay was born in 1945, Buffalo NY. By 1977 she was a fully formed pretendian artist.

Offline Sandy S

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Re: Gail Tremblay
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2023, 01:28:32 am »
More examples of her claims:

Omaha World-Herald, 25 Nov 1979, Sun · Page 166

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Ms. Tremblay, of the Onondaga Indian Tribe

Daily News, 09 Jun 1985, Sun · Page 345

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They always call us the vanishing Americans, said Gail Tremblay, an Onondaga weaver and poet

Tampa Bay Times, 03 Sep 1989, Sun · Page 56

Quote
Gail Tremblay (Iroquois/MicMac/French/English)

The Olympian, 14 Dec 1990, Fri · Page 35

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She's proud of her Native American ancestry - her father's father was of the Onendoga [sic] tribe, her father's mother of the Mic Macs in Nova Scotia

Much more on her can be found in books, magazine articles, event coverage, gallery bios, videos. She taught for decades at The Evergreen State College in Washington state. Her art is in private and public collections. Decades of students believe they learned weaving, poetry  and culture from a tribal member.

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Gail Tremblay
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2023, 10:44:36 pm »
One place to make an argument and pass along her genealogy would be Wikipedia. They have very strict rules about bios on living people out of fear they might be sued. So many of their bios are what's put out by PR firms or agents.

But legally you can't libel the dead, so they could be more honest now. Presenting her genealogy could get them to change her bio and then others would admit what she actually was.

Usually when someone passes we put the thread into Archives and mark it No Longer a Matter of Concern. The exception is when the falsehoods continue to cause harm. This is certainly one of those cases. If most bios admitted she was like DeCorti/Iron Eyes Cody, making her living by being an imposter, only then could we move it to Archives.

Most critics agree she was a talented poet. The irony is she could have been a success without lying.

Offline Sparks

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Re: Gail Tremblay
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2023, 03:37:27 am »
One place to make an argument and pass along her genealogy would be Wikipedia.

A Wikipedia article exists in English and four more languages, including German.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gail_Tremblay — This is what the article says about genealogy:

Quote
Background
Tremblay was born on December 15, 1945, in Buffalo, New York.[1] She identified her father as being of Mi'kmaq and Onondaga ancestry.[2][4] According to genealogical records, for generations her paternal ancestors resided along the Saint Lawrence River in the province of Quebec, Canada.[5] In an interview on Daybreak Star Radio, Tremblay said her great-grandfather once lived in Kahnawake near Montreal.[6]

Offline Sandy S

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Re: Gail Tremblay
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2023, 09:25:37 pm »
I started a Talk page on her Wikipedia entry, looks like they won't update with a correction. Genealogy records won't work.

Quote
Then it looks like it's updated as much as it can be, pending a reliable source that specifically details the fact that she traded on a false identity to aid her career. As it reads right now, the article does confirm that she was not in fact of Native descent, but it doesn't really say much about her use of the false identity. I think that deserves a mention, but we need a reliable source

Read full discussion https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Gail_Tremblay

The last video interview Gail Tremblay made before she died has been removed. https://daybreakstarradio.com/2022/12/gail-tremblay-interview/ I believe they were contacted by IACA tasked agents who informed them. In the Daybreak Star interview she was specifically asked if she was enrolled in a federally recognized tribe, she responded that she was.

Some museums have updated attribution http://portlandartmuseum.us/mwebcgi/mweb.exe?request=record;id=6661;type=701 but I've not found any authoritative source that affirmatively states that Gail Tremblay's claims were fraudulent. Nothing that Wikipedia will accept.

From what I see online, almost all bios are inaccurate.

Wikipedia would perhaps accept an affirmative statement from a Smithsonian, The Evergreen State College, Onondaga Tribe, DOJ .......... but I don't know that any of that will happen. I asked a federal agent if a public statement would be made, they replied one wouldn't be coming from them. So NAFPS may remain the only accurate discussion available online.

Offline Sparks

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Re: Gail Tremblay
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2023, 12:45:55 am »
The last video interview Gail Tremblay made before she died has been removed.
https://daybreakstarradio.com/2022/12/gail-tremblay-interview/
I believe they were contacted by IACA tasked agents who informed them. In the Daybreak Star interview she was specifically asked if she was enrolled in a federally recognized tribe, she responded that she was.

The text that accompanied the video interview is preserved here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20221219152239/https://daybreakstarradio.com/2022/12/gail-tremblay-interview/

Quote
GAIL TREMBLAY INTERVIEW
WRITTEN BY DAYBREAK ON DECEMBER 5, 2022
Daybreak Star was honored to interview Gail Tremblay a Mi’kmaq and Onondaga writer and artist. A professor at The Evergreen State College since 1981. She is also an educator, author, and poet. In her art practice, Tremblay often portrays contemporary ideas for the upcoming generation.

Gails aunts taught her basketry techniques and forms. Tremblay’s art draws from Native American history, Indigenous history literature, Western movies, and other pop culture references.

Tremblay has staged many solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group shows for all age ranges. In our radio interview Gail specifically highlighted the importance of running art workshops with the youth.

Here are some locations across the country Gail Tremblay’s art is showcased: [Four links omitted]

If you can’t make it to see those exhibits in person you can always check out some of Gail’s published books: [Two links omitted]

The video that was embedded there has not been preserved:
Quote
The Wayback Machine does not have this video archived.

Offline Sparks

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Re: Gail Tremblay
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2023, 12:26:17 am »
Here is a very recent example of other IACB work:
https://www.justice.gov/usao-ak/pr/washington-man-receives-monumental-sentence-indian-arts-and-crafts-act-case

This news item deserves wide attention. So I made a new topic:

http://www.newagefraud.org/smf/index.php?topic=5662.0
[Cristobal Magno Rodrigo — two years prison — Indian Arts and Crafts Act]