Trade (Gifts For Trading Land With White People) (1992) is the first painting, in which Native American artist Jaune Quick-To-See Smith depicted a trade canoe, a subject she frequently returns to. Here, Smith uses the painted canoe as a vehicle for examining the history of exploitation in this country, which she underscores with collaged photocopies of old photographs, zoological illustrations, and clippings from newspapers and magazines – many from the publication of her reservation, Char-Koosta News.
As an allusion to the worthless trinkets, spoiled food, and contaminated goods offered by the United States government in its treaty negotiations with tribal nations (from the first agreement in 1778 to today), she included contemporary objects with offensive sports mascot and cheap, mass-produced children’s toy, such as faux-feather headdresses and plastic tomahawks. That many of these items are still widely available in 2023 speaks to the persistence of cultural stereotypes in American society.
Photographed at The Whitney Museum as Part of the Exhibit, Memory Map, Which Runs Through August 13th, 2023.