Will Wilson Topples the Myth of the American Indian


Will Wilson (b. 1969), Nakotah LaRance, Citizen of the Hopi Nation, 6-Time World Champion HoopDancer, Member, Dancing Earth, Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations, 2012, printed 2018, archival pigment print from wet plate collodion scan, 22 x 17 in. Photography by BradFlowers. (Photo/Courtesy Art Bridges)

There is a perception of Native people still widely held in the United States: Google Image search "Native American" and at the top of the search will likely be archaic photos of Native Americans taken by Edward Curtis–tin types and sepia toned. These outdated images continue to inform a style that over a century later dominates museum exhibitions and the tops of Google searches: the Indian in a headdress, bareback on a horse, etc. Diné photographer Will Wilson uses the very tin type and sepia that froze Native Americans in the past to shatter the myth and bring Natives very much into contemporary, modern art.

Wilson's latest exhibition, In Conversation: Will Wilson, investigates the legacy of historical photographs on the representation of Native peoples in North America. It opened on July 9 at the Delaware Art Museum.

"People don't want to deal with the traumatic reality of history, of genocide, of attempted ethnic cleansing," Wilson told Native News Online. "They'd rather see these noble, beautiful images of a 'better time.' I want to make the case that we're still here doing interesting and important things."



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