Man Crush Monday, Pt. 3: Nick Galanin, Fearless Native Creating Decolonized Art
(WARNING: Contains faux-Indigenous nudity. Seriously.)
This guy might be the crushiest of my Man Crush Mondays. Yeah, I think so. His name is Nick Galanin. He's Tlingit. Yes, another talented Alaska Native. More about him soon—first, let me indulge for a second.
Many people are scared to be exactly who they are nowadays; Native people are not exempt. In fact, we’ve been trained, through 500 years of genocide and white supremacy, to be extremely cautious of consequences for being TOO MUCH who we are (more on that later). Whether it’s the young Native man who feels apprehensive about wearing his beautiful braids to work because he thinks it might be just a little too Indian or being the talented Native high school student who won’t post exactly what she feels about higher education’s assimilative agenda on Facebook because it might affect her application to Stanford, it’s really hard to always be true to yourself.
I censor myself on a regular basis, believe it or not—I admire those who do not.
I notice lots of folks are throwing around the word “decolonization” recently. I’m not exactly sure what that word means, to be honest. But I’ll tell you what I THINK it means, and what makes sense: a Native being unafraid of the consequences of an establishment, which invariably upholds white supremacist values, is the most decolonized thing a Native person could do. During the genesis of Native/European relations, Natives who showed themselves to be too strong-willed or uncompromising were routinely publicly killed or their children stolen to set an example. From Verrazano kidnapping Indian children in 1524 to the many, many Native children stolen in the 20th century, to Coronado burning 200 Pueblos at the stake, the lesson was etched deep into our psyches:
“Indians, don’t you dare rise up and try to assert yourself or speak for yourself or be too damn Native, by God! Don’t speak up against white supremacy or against how Christianity has affected Native communities or against commodification of Native culture. The consequences will be very, very severe.”
Now, back to Nick: how dare you carve a sculpture of a Raven out of an actual Bible? Don’t you know that Natives (and non-Natives) literally burned at the stake for lesser offenses?
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