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What About Ghost Dance??

There is something in the human spirit that will survive and prevail, there is a tiny and brilliant light burning in the heart of man that will not go out no matter how dark the world becomes.

Leo Tolstoy

Happy 2018!!

 Life has changed for me. In a big, radical way. Over the last year, I’ve gone through some major changes. They’ve been mostly psychological, but some are physical.


So, what has changed? Nothing and everything. I mean that in the way that things seem to be the same, but deep down inside, we know they’re not. We know something terrible is about to happen (anxiety). A heavy, dark weight we carry in the backs of our minds every day.


There’s a huge divide in our country, and even in our world. People are very anxious and very scared. We’re all in freefall, or so it seems. We’re uncertain of almost everything now.


We’re here because of an epistemic crisis. An epistemic crisis is a crisis of knowledge; we don’t know what’s true or false anymore. Have you been around your friends, coworkers, and family? Have you heard the absolute crazy rhetoric that comes out of their mouths? Almost everyone I know has had someone in their life that supports the current administration. And all we can do is wonder how they can accommodate and assimilate the craziness that is Donald J. Trump. It baffles the mind!


One of the reasons I’m writing this now is that I’ve been deeply affected by Trump’s election. It’s taken my desire to make photographs away. Not just making photographs, but it’s rented space in my head. I haven’t been able to work on my Ghost Dance project for almost a year. I appreciate the inquires about what happened - it was a recent question about it that prompted this writing - thank you.


I’ve told a few people why I’m not working on that project - it boils down to respect. I DO NOT want to release work that deals with genocide and American “exceptionalism” in this environment. Most people tell me it would be received better today than in a less hostile time. I disagree.


One of the first directives Trump signed was the DAPL/Keystone pipeline. He was inaugurated on January 20, he signed the DAPL/Keystone pipeline approval on January 24. It spoke volumes to me.


Since then, I’ve seen the Commander in Chief stand in front of a portrait of Jackson (Trail of Tears, owned slaves, etc.) and talk about Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) from Massachusetts being called, “Pocahontas”. WTF?? Are you kidding me? And here’s the “kicker” - the two gentlemen standing next to him were the last of the Navajo Code Talkers that were very instrumental in winning World War II.


There are so many more examples of this kind of vitriol, I don’t have the time to write them out. You know what they are - they happen almost every day.


All of this, and it’s still ongoing, affects my creative life deeply. I don’t mind confrontation, I have no problem defending my work, it’s just that I DO NOT want Native Americans to feel like I’m dredging stuff up to create more problems in their lives. It can wait. I’m going to wait until I have an environment and audience that can appreciate and understand the work.


Having said that, let me address the blacksmithing/bladesmithing. I need a creative outlet. I teach once a month (or more) and that is a lot of fun, but I need a solitary way to create. I have a long history with metal/steel fabrication. I owned a shop that built wood burning stoves! Before that, I was a lowly grinder/apprentice for the local union. I’ve paid my dues with metal/steel fabrication. I wanted to return to it and feel good about going onto our land in a few years with everything we need - skill sets and equipment will go a long way.