Thanks to the artist for responding about the mural at VCA. By publishing the back story, it’s easier to understand the mural’s suggestions. I’m also relieved our original letter raises questions towards enriching dialogue about these liberating subjects.
I’m white. I grew up in Massapequa, Long Island near New York City. Our house was on the Massapequa River which flowed from a waterfall out of Massapequa Lake at the top of our street. As a kid, I was curious about the native indigenous people, the Massapequa Tribe. If this was their home, where had they gone? My inquiries didn’t get much if any response from my elders; those native folks were just gone. So I learned to do that, too — erase even the questions from my imagination.
These days, I’m learning about racial equity in America. Once upon a time, folks of color and poor (as in not ruling class) white people communed and labored together. The idea of whiteness was invented by elite power-holders and put into law after the 1660’s Bacon’s Rebellion, an action that threatened the source of cheap labor needed for profit-making industry. Elites used a “divide and conquer” strategy. They gave special privileges to the commoner white males — particularly to own land and bear arms; unity unraveled.
Over a year ago, I started paying Real Rent to the Duwamish Tribe (Google it). At first, my intent was to repair historic relationship trauma. My awareness grew to learn that contemporary indigenous folks remain the “real” guardians of this land I call home, whether it be Massapequa, N.Y. or SXw eBaBs/sHebabS Coast Salish Vashon Island.
We are still guests here. Our colonizing history paints a rationalized story to cover over the stories of folks who continue to be our hosts.
— Karen Nelson