Remembering James Luna, Who Gave His Voice and His Body to Native American Art

 

Luna’s unexpected passing at the age of 68 interrupted a steady flow of thoughtful and provocative performance art.

READ: Remembering James Luna, Who Gave His Voice and His Body to Native American Art

I had posted about James prior on this blog. He was articulate and funny and a real warrior in his art. I only met him once.

“James Luna is one of the most important contemporary Native artists of our day,” said Patsy Phillips, director of IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, in a statement to Hyperallergic. “His art and contributions to the art world will live on in institutions and publications, but more importantly he will live on in perpetuity in people’s minds and hearts.”

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History’s Losers Write the Story | Mormon’s Complicated History | Plant Walks | Divest | Culture Camp | Luna

 

Like other religious groups, Mormons have a complicated history around race. Until a few decades ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught that they “shall be a white and a delightsome people,” a phrase taken from the Book of Mormon. Until the 1970s, the LDS Church also restricted black members’ participation in important rituals, and prohibited black men from becoming priests.

BIG READ: The History of Racism and White Supremacy in the Mormon Church – The Atlantic

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To prevent their collective cultural knowledge about medicinal plants from disappearing, some Vermont tribal nations are sharing their expertise with those outside the native communities.

LISTEN: To Keep Native Medicinal Knowledge Alive, Leaders Organize Plant Walks | Vermont Public Radio

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Corporations and banks will not move on from the fossil fuel era because of our compelling moral and ecological arguments about why they should. So we are learning to speak their language. Money talks…

Source: Kill the Funding, Kill the Pipeline, Divest the Globe by Matt Remle | LRInspire

 

Performance artist James Luna, a member of California’s Luiseño tribe, likes to blur the boundaries of his Native American culture. On Columbus Day in 2011, he stood in front of Washington, D.C.’s Union Station and invited passersby to take his picture. He spoke with the magazine’s Jess Righthand.

So how did it work?
Standing at a podium wearing an outfit, I announce: “Take a picture with a real Indian. Take a picture here, in Washington, D.C. on this beautiful Monday morning, on this holiday called Columbus Day. America loves to say ‘her Indians.’ America loves to see us dance for them. America likes our arts and crafts. America likes to name cars and trucks after our tribes. Take a picture with a real Indian. Take a picture here today, on this sunny day here in Washington, D.C.” And then I just stand there. Eventually, one person will pose with me. After that they just start lining up. I’ll do that for a while until I get mad enough or humiliated enough.

It’s dual humiliation.

READ: Q and A: James Luna | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian