The new exhibition Urban Indian: Native New York Now reports over 30 years of artworks made by Native American artists in New York. The artworks are showing at the Museum of the City of New York until March 8, 2020, also to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the American Indian Community House (AICH), a non-profit community organization which represents Native Americans residing in New York.
The Indian termination policy and the Indian Relocation Act of 1956 had been fundamental for the assimilation of Native Americans into urban life. Since then, the beginning of urban residency contributed to the rise of American Indian activism, particularly after the 1960s.
Moreover, this exhibition fights the clichés of the representation of the natives and what they had to suffer during the years of assimilation. They derived from the ignorance of the violent colonization experienced by the tribes. As Bradley Pearce, visual historian of the museum, said: “These stereotypes are problematic, and they’re still very powerful. They shape the American public’s understanding of Indigenous people.”
During these years, tapestries, sculptures, videos, photographs and community memorabilia have been collected and can now be showcased. All these features trace all the stories of Native American people of which more than seventy percent now live in urban areas of the United States.
As co-curator Rebecca Hayes Jacobs stated: “Given the history of erasure, misrepresentation and appropriation of Native cultures by museums and other cultural institutions, we wanted to prioritize native self-representation, to let them speak for themselves to the greatest degree possible.”