The objective of this exhibit is twofold: the initial aim was to dispel colonial conceptions of who a Native American person is. Unfortunately, this was not always feasible, as the Indigenous perspective does not receive the same visibility in archival materials; instead, the dominant colonial depiction has often manipulated individuals’ perceptions of Native Americans. This became the basis for the second goal of the exhibit, which is to expose the invasive practices employed by settler/occupier populations to create these inaccurate portrayals. Natives were viewed through a colonial gaze, in which their misrepresentation advanced the position of non-Native groups. Colonizers would exploit tribal communities and commodify their cultures in order to invent these negative depictions, as demonstrated through some of the featured materials.
The solution to this problem is the juxtaposition or coupling of contradictory items together, allowing for the false accounts to be revealed. Throughout the exhibit, Indigenous peoples challenge colonial methods and practices meant to harm their communities. Whether through written responses or tangible actions, these counteractive measures also underscore Native perseverance and resilience.
This exhibit was curated by Sydnie Ziegler '22, Edward Connery Lathem '51 Special Collections Fellow. The poster was designed by Samantha Milnes, Collection Management Assistant at Rauner Special Collections Library. The exhibit will be on display in Rauner Special Collections Library's Class of 1965 Galleries from April 4, 2023, until June 16, 2023.