Someday, perhaps, archaeologists will discover a bizarre petroglyph repeated across Turtle Island: the word “Indians,” carved deep into stone and sidewalks in the style of Cleveland’s controversial baseball team.
Tlingit and Aleut artist Nicolas Galanin journeyed from Alaska to etch his ironic petroglyph with a cement cutter at the entrance of the Vancouver Art Gallery as part of its ground-breaking aboriginal art exhibit, Beat Nation, an exhibition of 27 aboriginal artists from every region of North America, open until June 3.
“The word ‘Indian’ becomes ancient-looking when you etch it into stone, but it has other kinds of political echoes as well,” says Beat Nation co-curator Tania Willard, of Secwepemc Nation in British Columbia’s interior. “That was the idea of looking at the urban landscape in a way that excavates it to show indigenous roots and indigenous presence. It brings us back to the land of aboriginal presence and culture as embedded in the landscape.”