Erin Currier

American Women (Dismantling the Border) II

Acrylic and mixed media on panel, 48"h x 60"w, Item No. 15361,


American Women (dismantling the border) II depicts the U.S. Mexico wall being dismantled by American Indigenous women (Comanche, Navajo, on the U.S. side; Aztec, Miztec, Mayan, on the Mexican side). Most borders which define Nation States—topics of such heated debate—were only recently built, created by Colonial conquest, and are false constructs—hastily drawn lines etching across and carving up lands inhabited for millennia by Indigenous peoples. Thus, it is the right of the Indigenous to dismantle the oppressive walls and artificial distinctions of the world: walls that slice through the heart of communities and ecosystems-- the only function of which is fear based exclusion.

Scholar Nancy Wood speaks of how: early on, the landscape and the people were one. It was their church, their cathedral. It was like a sacred building to them, but one without walls, tithes, or dogma. Nature had no need for sin, guilt, or redemption. Why should it? No Bible was necessary to mete out justice, form ties to the community, or force people to behave. The Indians knew right from wrong; they honored their elders, loved their children, and lived within a communal framework of work, cooperation, and tribal hierarchy. Prayer and observation were a part of everyday life. Everything in the sky or on earth was either male or female, because that was what the Old Man of the Sky and the Old Woman of the Earth taught them. If a man connected himself to the spirit of the land, he was said to be "living the right way." From the Earth women learned about medicinal plants and herbs, earth provided food, shelter, and tools. The seasons reflected change, and women invented songs about their mystery.

After half a millennia of persecution, the Pueblos and other Indigenous communities continue to struggle for their inherent rights to ancestral sacred lands and ritual. Time and again, they have defied governments through peaceful means and won. Kivas are no longer raided, children no longer dragged off to boarding schools. However, the earth below their feet is continually under assault due to resource extraction—fracking, mining, pipelines; as is the sky above their heads by drones, missiles, toxic fumes. Nonetheless, the connection to ancient ways in New Mexico's Pueblos and beyond is strong; once dismissed, these ways are now being increasingly embraced by communities all over the world—as perhaps the only way for a viable future...

A traditional Tiwa prayer states: "When mountains die, we die. When rivers run backward into time, our spirits will travel along. All is a circle within us. What ends here begins in some other place. What begins here has no end."