After the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving is the most heavily mythologized US-specific holiday, and in some ways its myth is even more insidious. Whereas the Fourth of July is an origin story for the nation, Thanksgiving is its supposed prehistory, a deceptively anodyne depiction of relations between European settlers and the land’s Native inhabitants. The story of friendly New England pilgrims and Wampanoag people breaking bread together is instilled in every schoolchild in the country. Recent years have seen a pushback against this picture-book version of the past and the sanitized narrative it represents, as Native people of various nations fight for recognition and reparation of both their historical persecution and contemporary government neglect.
This is the context in which the Upstander Project, a decolonization-minded media education initiative, has released its new documentary short Bounty. Produced in collaboration with members of the Penobscot Nation, it tells the little-known history of government bounties for Indigenous people across the Northeast, both before and after the founding of the United States. These murders were commissioned starting only a generation after the fabled “First Thanksgiving.” Researchers for the film uncovered records of government payments for 375 human scalps that amounted to the modern equivalent of millions of dollars, awarded over the course of many years. Additionally, bounty hunters were sometimes rewarded with the land of the people they killed, resulting in thousands of acres throughout the region being stolen. And this is only what is known from what currently survives in various archives.
The film features several Penobscot relaying this history to their children in Boston’s Old State House, in the very room where in 1755 the settler government proclaimed war on their ancestors. The documentary is made both as a provocative “We are still here” statement and as an introduction to a greater dialogue around these issues. The film’s website is built with a novel structure, introducing elements piece by piece as the reader scrolls, encouraging you to ingest each piece of information in turn before proceeding to the next section. It is filled with supplementary materials — videos that introduce and contextualize the short, clips that tell more about the participants, a teacher’s guide, a timeline of events, an appendix of documented land grants in the Northeast, and more. Bounty is a potent piece of Thanksgiving counter-programming. On this holiday, people are encouraged to reflect; don’t leave this history out of that reflection.
Bounty can be viewed, along with its accompanying videos and other materials, on its website.
This week, missed signs of previous life on Mars, the appeal of forged art, and why are blue whales singing in lower octaves?
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed forcefully posits multiple parallels between the world Nan Goldin grew up in and the one she fights in today.
The latest episode of this documentary series on PBS explores the meaning of home through handmade objects, hand built homes, and the artists who create them.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very Los Angeles art events this month, including Bob Thompson, Aimee Goguen, Uta Barth, the Transcendental Painting Group, and more.
There is the singular artist and then there is the more exclusive club that has only one member. Harvey belongs to the latter.
Rhode Island School of Design opens registration for its residential summer Pre-College program and year-round online intensive Advanced Program Online.
The artists say the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma must sever ties with Poju Zabludowicz, whose wealth comes in part from Israeli defense contracting.
Vanessa Albury, whose eco-friendly ceramic sculptures help revive filter-feeder populations, is raising funds to complete her first film about the project.
Hrag Vartanian, Hyperallergic’s editor-in-chief, is one of the guest jurors reviewing applications for the two-month residency in Utica, New York.
An archeological exploration of the amphitheater’s sewers and water systems uncovered remnants of meat, vegetables, olives, nuts, and yes, pizza.
At this year’s show, I reflected on the lack of bilingual materials, the absurdity of art-fair gimmick, and the workers who make it all possible.
Hear a band of improvisers led by Rajna Swaminathan and a performance of Morton Feldman’s “For John Cage” in programs inspired by the exhibition, “New York: 1962-1964.”
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events this month, including art made during the first stock market crash, a homage to feline friends, and the 10-year anniversary of a crucial public art initiative.
Astrid Dick was told that she could not paint stripes because Sean Scully and Frank Stella have done so before her, a patently foolish statement.