Reclaiming Our Power

Shan Goshorn
16” X 16” X 13.5”
Arches watercolor paper splints printed with archival inks, acrylic paint

The interior of this double-weave basket is woven with high statistics of violence directed at Indian women on tribal lands by non-natives. These facts include: “3 out of 4 Native women will be physically assaulted in their lifetime, Native women are 10 times more likely to be murdered than any other group of women, 1 in 3 native women will be raped in their lifetime, and 88% of crimes against Indian women are by non-natives but tribal courts have ZERO authority to prosecute them.” The paper text is washed with purple, black and blue paint to emphasize the bruising severity of this violence.

The exterior is woven with the language in sections 904, 905, and 910 of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 0f 2013. This language recognizes the inherent right of tribes to protect Indian women who suffer specific abuse by non-natives on tribal lands. Prior to the enactment of this law, non-natives could act without fear of prosecution for these crimes. Many thanks to the brave women and men who worked tirelessly, including their public testimony of personal accounts which convinced the House and Senate of the need for this legislation. Their testimonies are literally what passed the vote.

It was important to me for this basket to be a community project, so I sent out an e-request and received responses from over 50 native women from across the northern hemisphere. I requested images of women wearing street clothes (to indicate how violence happens at any time, not just at pow wows) and for females of all ages (to show how this can happen to our daughters, our sisters, our mothers, our grandmothers, our friends.) I obscured individual faces to illustrate the anonymity of the victims and widespread pervasiveness of this violence. All the figures are wrapped in intertribal shawls, metaphorically indicating how the new provisions in this act will serve to wrap around us like a protective shield and untie the hands of tribal courts to dispense justice.