Am I an Indian Artist?

Seems the subject of “Who is a REAL Indian?’ and “Who’s a REAL Indian Artist?”

is out in the wind again , especially after news about the proposed amendment to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

Where ever $$ is to be made, here comes the fakes, frauds and schemers, and innocent people feeling cheated.

Money has a nasty reputation of making enemies, dividing people , and cultivates all kinds of scams.

I didn’t read about the proposal till after our Longhouse ceremonies, too busy carrying on duties of our sacred ceremonies

too busy working on critical Wyandot language revitalization work, creating Wyandot language lessons, planning for our Green Corn

rolling coils, painting pots and fletching arrows to sit at the computer and ponder  “hmmm… Am I an “Indian Artist?”

Since there is no word in Wyandot for “Indian” and also no word for “Artist”, we’re talking “foreign ideas” here.

My Wyandot ancestors probably wouldn’t have pondered such English concepts. They just made things, traded for things and got along ok

without anyone checking to see if they had an official federal government sanctioned  CDIB card in their wallet.

I’m just a die-hard traditionalist enrolled Wyandot who makes stuff. But am I a bona fide “Indian Artist?”

Honestly I’m not sure US Federal Government legal qualifications would put me in that particular file cabinet.

So “Indian ART” buyers – RED ALERT!!!   This Wyandot,  Richard Zane Smith , might NOT  officially qualify as an “Indian Artist”.

I am who I am and I hate deception as much as anyone else.  so you decide!

Richard Zane Smith

named Sohahiyo, in the Wendat Longhouse in Wendake Quebec , a direct descendant of Tarhe, the Crane,

enrolled with the Wyandot Nation of Kansas , seems “state recognized” depending on the Kansas Governor elected.

maker of stuff (Art?) known as a cultural activist, revitalizationist, Wyandot language teacher,  traditional singer and a seated speaker at ceremonies.





11 responses

  1. I have always thought of you as an Indian Artist especially because of your dream of the Exposed to Light project.

    April 20, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    • Thanks Wenona,
      it seems anywhere money is made its like putting out a feeder for birds…it always leads to squabbles and fights.
      People who really want to know who we are can do their own homework! maybe its just human laziness? “Just give me a law!”

      April 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm

  2. Your one of the best bro. Excellent work and heck with Govt. standards.

    April 20, 2013 at 10:42 pm

  3. Of course you are. This is all legal non-sense to protect someone’s money or to make lawsuits easier. Arguing over words – in this case anyway – is just time wasted.
    Keep doing what you do. And God’s peace to you and your family.

    April 21, 2013 at 1:43 am

    • Seems you can be recognized as “Indian” if you are recognized by those who recognize legitimate recognizers.
      tell me THATS not a Federal BIA definition! 😛
      Those who know me from our four nations in the Wendat Confederacy recognize me and thats good enough !
      ok well… still pisses me off though 🙂

      April 21, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    • It seems for every law there to protect, there is a lapse of someone elses freedom.
      We know there are fakes and frauds out there posing…they’ll do anything to make $ (fake NDNs are a dime a dozen)
      and we need to be aware…but gosh, art collectors!! do your homework ! ask around ! don’t insult someone by asking for their CDIB card( as I’ve heard even Indian artists suggest!)
      Thats like asking an Italian for proof of Italian pedigree before eating at an Italian restaurant . Many who have cards issued DO NOT even carry them because its such an insult.

      April 21, 2013 at 3:22 pm

  4. You’ve been a faithful Wyandot artisan/artist named Sohahiyoh and you will remain so. The greedy politicians who represent the greedy BigBiz plutocrats of this country have no “business” changing protections for the natives of these lands. If those being protected aren’t protesting, then it should not be changed. How dare the interlopers push to interlope again and again. Is there no end to the shame? Your being so forthcoming is refreshing and so true to your heritage. Nothing proclaimed in the halls of Congress can overrule the laws of nature which truly bind us. It cannot change genetics (although Monsanto might!) and it cannot determine the spirit of a man. Thank you, Sohahiyoh. ♥♥Caitlin

    April 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm

  5. Thanks Caitlin, very thoughtful words…
    probably Monsanto would love to get control over our genes too? 🙂

    April 23, 2013 at 5:57 pm

  6. the warrior artisan

    Kiaora Brother, (I am a real boy) its an interesting subject, (mind you it always is on your blog). I make stuff too, a form, shape or a bowl or whatever. the art piece is inspired by ??? most of the time a reference to my culture, a story, a person, an animal, a happening, So i make this lets say a bowl, a bowl for the burial of a childs afterbirth on sacred tribal land, forever linking the child to it spiritually. i carve motifs an maybe a story of the land on its surface, its fired perfectly its stunning, and at an exhibition its availiable for a very reasonable price minus gallery commision and postage and packaging. This seems strange does it not, but i think thats the world at the moment. Why do we do what we do? I think its the current ideal of accumulating currency in which we pay our credits that we owe. Its the nature of the greedy beast that labels us, lists us as “artist of culture” It makes it easier to place us, it makes it easier for them to find us, they need to understand what, whom and why we are…. And for what, because at the johnsons dinner party the other night which was wonderful by the way i saw that beautiful new piece john purchased the other day at an exhibit of cultural works by such an such… Strange times indeed brother……..but…… never fear cuz i think those times my fade away by the looks of the financial status of this giant computerised money machine that is stuck in everyones ear like a obese tick. its over for them soon. Computerised I.O.U systems cant have a very long shelf life.Were going to have to plant the land and grow our own nourishment, to really be who we must be.I think the days of trade and good will, love and understanding can only set us free…….wow bro i think i better lay off the coffee so late at night Im getting all passionate and stuff, starting to rant feelings and all that jazz………………….Anyway where was I oh yes the question “am i an artist whom is of culture? I surpose its just up to us to say wether or not we are. We creative people who make “art” stuff that keeps that pulse of culture, teaching and ways of old alive and kicking in this crazy crazy world and time. Our world is forever changing so our tikanga or ways and reasons we live by are forever changing, but the essence must remain true. The natural change, the flow of life is alot different to when yours and my ancestors were walking threw life. In this industrial powered spiritualess age in which we find ourselves, we can only hope that the teachings that we have been taught and will then teach, will fall on the hungry ears of our future. Brother i look foward to seeing you in Aotearoa again, we can make some art stuff and go trade it for fresh fish and song……Peace be your journey brotha, cool runnings.CHUCHUR

    April 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    • kia ora Amo, nęh kweh he’eye’an (and heya bro!)

      haǫˀ (WELL SAID!) hey maybe the coffee helps!? but seriously, warrior-artists and contemporary-traditionalists like you keep my hope alive about the future.
      I only hope someday the local tribes in OUR area can achieve the passion for cultural revitalization as I experienced among my Maori brothers and sisters!
      Our people here have suffered greatly and still seem to be under some invisible chains of conquest. Here among tribal members, there exists a very strong (and strange) grip of patriotic loyalty/fear?
      The very flag of conquest that was brought into battle against our ancestors is now carried in pow-wow dance circles and Indian people chant to it “the Pledge of Alligence”
      and the Christian “Lords Prayer” is sung over the PA system (often a recording of Jim Nabors warbling crescendos).
      Its been done for so long, few seem to think there is anything odd about this. But it keeps the natives pacified, good citizens, paying taxes, and yields up strong children for the US armed services.

      People forget that we were once extremely MATRIOTIC warriors (we’d lay our lives down to protect our people and our land)…but now we’ve become PATRIOTIC and can’t seem to see the difference.
      “love of our homeland” has been replaced by “love of our country”. Maybe the youth will be the ones to revive our OWN sense of identity. the USA will actually become a better country for it!
      ((three cups of coffee here!))

      yep, saving pennies for Aotearoa 1214 where we can hang out together again… i NEED my dose of Maori energy!
      Richard (Sǫhahiyǫh)

      April 28, 2013 at 3:17 pm

  7. Lauretta

    I’ve always thought of you as a Wyondatte artist. Not an Indian artist. Indian is such a non-specified group of people. It is a government word. Wyondatte is a word of legends, song, dance, laughter, tears, myths, people, life, death, and more.

    October 28, 2014 at 1:40 am

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