CONTEXT: November

NOVEMBER: Decolonization & Borders 

We will focus on our historical and contemporary contextualization of land ownership as it relates to Native American and Indigenous communities in Georgia. While discussing colonization of physical lands, we also intend to discuss the westernization and systematic erasure of people, traditions, languages, and histories. Through these conversations, we will highlight and uplift Native American and Indigenous people living in “Georgia,” ways to decolonize common phrases that marginalize and belittle Native American and Indigenous people/cultures, and share resources for further engagement with justice-oriented organizations and platforms.  

I think an understanding of settler privilege is the first notion of decolonizing your practice.Settler privilege is a barrier. Those who wish to decolonize their practice must first understand what colonialism is and its effects on Indigenous people. This understanding is key in undermining the levers of power that undermine Indigenous self-determination and well-being. You cannot claim to be an ally without digging deeper into the colonial context.

- Winoka Yepa, Senior Manager of Museum Education, IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts


November Events and Resources on Decolonization & Borders

Educational social media images part 1

Educational social media images part 2

Indigenous Futurisms:  Transcending Past/Present Future recorded lecture

Indigenous Futurisms virtual exhibit

Additional resources, selected bibligography, and publications












Educational Social Media Posts Part 1

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For the month of November, we are continuing our collaborative series, Context, and exploring how decolonization, colonies achieving self-governance, is informed by borders, history, and imagining a new future for Indigenous communities in Atlanta and Georgia.

To understand decolonization, we must first begin by defining colonization. Colonization is invasion: a group of people taking over the land and imposing their own culture on Indigenous people. Colonization is more than physical. It is also cultural and psychological in determining whose knowledge is privileged. In this, colonization not only impacts the first generation colonized but creates enduring issues. The word “decolonization” was first coined by the German economist Moritz Julius Bonn in the 1930s to describe former colonies that achieved self-governance. Decolonization is now used to talk about restorative justice through cultural, psychological and economic freedom.
Decolonization must involve challenging both conscious and subconscious racism. Non-Indigenous people in settler-colonial societies can start by asking:
1. Whose Country do I live on - what nation?
2. If my land was stolen, my culture and sovereignty denied, what rights would I want, need, and expect?
3. Who must I listen to and work with?
Georgia is situated on Cherokee, Apalachee, Muskogee Creek, Hitchiti, Oconee, Miccosukee, Timucua, Yamasee, Guale, Shawnee, and Yuchi lands. We ask that you join us in acknowledging these nations, their elders both past and present, as well as future generations. We acknowledge that Georgia was founded upon exclusions and erasures of many Indigenous peoples, including those whose land this institution is located. This acknowledgement demonstrates a commitment to beginning the process of working to dismantle the ongoing legacies of forced colonization.

Stay tuned for more information about the role of borders, history, and imagining new futures in relation to decolonization. Land acknowledgements are a great first step in decolonization. Learn more about them and additional ally actions here. To learn more about decolonizing maps and read a brief history of Indigenous lands in Georgia, please visit this website.


Educational Social Media Posts Part 2


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For the month of November, we are continuing our collaborative series, Context, and exploring how decolonization, colonies achieving self-governance, is informed by borders, history, and imagining a new future for Indigenous communities in Atlanta and Georgia. 

A History of Standing Peach Tree 
In the region that became Atlanta – part of the Muscogee Creek Confederacy – a significant Native American presence was the village called Pakanahuili (Creek meaning "Standing Peach Tree"). It is from this Lower Creek settlement that all Peachtree Streets receive their name. 
After 1814 a series of treaties whittled away at the Creek lands, pushing them further and further out of Georgia. In 1825 the second Treaty of Indian Springs, signed by Chief William McIntosh, ceded all Lower Creek land in Georgia. Not only had members of the state government manipulated McIntosh into signing, but McIntosh did so without a clear mandate from his people. 

US Government Sponsored "Indian Removal" 
In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which gave the federal government the power to exchange Native-held land in the cotton kingdom east of the Mississippi for land to the west, in the “Indian colonization zone”. 
In 1836, the federal government drove the Creeks from their land for the last time. The overall effect of the Creek trail of tears was staggering. 
21,792 Creeks lived in Georgia and Alabama in 1832. Twenty years after the "removal" ended, only 13,537 Creeks remained in Oklahoma. 

5 Native American Places to Visit and Support in Georgia 
Fort Mountain (Chatsworth, GA) 
Track Rock Gap (Chattahoochee National Forest)  
Ocmulgee Mounds (Macon, GA) 
Etowah Indian Mounds (Cartersville, GA) 
Kolomoki Mounds (Blakely, GA)  

Anti-Indigenous Things to Stop Doing 
Stop saying "off the reservation". It's a reference to the pass system that was in place restricting Native people from leaving without permission 
Stop making "1/16" and "great-great-grandmother" jokes. All of these reference blood quantum, a genocidal system designed to "breed out Natives".

Stop calling things your "spirit animal". Only Indigenous people from specific nations have spirit animals. 
Stop making dreamcatchers. They are sacred Anishinaabe culture and are not trinkets or crafts. 
Stop referring to your "tribe". It is trivializing tribal affiliations to say "bride tribe" or "find your tribe".  
Don't wear "war paint" or put feathers in your hair, Native people are not characters or costumes. 
Don't refer to your meetings or discussions as "pow wows". 
Stop supporting teams that use racist terms and imagery of Indigenous people. Like the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Chiefs. 



Indigenous Futurisms:  Transcending Past/Present/Future Lecture




Description from event:  Join the Inclusion, Advocacy and Support Programs for a conversation about the virtual exhibit “Indigenous Futurisms:  Transcending Past/Present/Future” with Dr. Manuela Well-Off-Man, Chief Curator for the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. Dr. Well-Off-Man will be joining us to discuss a few pieces from the current virtual exhibit, as well as contextualizing decolonization and borders as they relate to indigenous communities. 

Dr. Manuela Well-Off-Man is an art historian and chief curator at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. Well-Off-Man previously served as curator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR. She has more than 20 years of curatorial experience in museums and galleries. She has curated more than 46 exhibitions, including national and international traveling contemporary Native American art exhibitions. Well-Off-Man received her Ph.D. in art history from the Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany, and earned her M.A. degree in art history, archaeology and pedagogy from the University of Cologne, Germany. She lectures frequently on various topics of American art, and authored numerous exhibition catalogue essays, magazine articles, blogs and scholarly texts.

Indigenous Futurisms:  Transcending Past/Present/Future Virtual Reality Exhibit


Visit the virtual exhibit "Indigenous Futurisms:  Trascending Past/Present/Future"! Take a self-guided tour now. This exhibit highlights artworks that present the future from a Native perspective, and illustrates the use of cosmology and science as part of tribal oral history and ways of life. The science fiction and post-apocalyptic narratives depicted in these artworks are often reality for Indigenous communities worldwide. The imagery and narratives also emphasize the importance of Futurism in Native Cultures. Artists use Sci-Fi related themes to pass on tribal oral history to younger audiences and to revive their Native language. The works in this exhibition create awareness about how cultural knowledge and tribal philosophies are connected to the universe, science, and the future. Indigenous Futurisms was co-curated by IAIA Art History Faculty Dr. Suzanne Fricke, Chelsea Herr (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), and IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts Chief Curator Dr. Manuela Well-Off-Man. 

For more information, visit the website for the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Additional Resources