The social, racial and historical implications of this image is kind of nuts. This quote concerning this image says EVERYTHING.
"I want to unpack why this image is so potent to me as a Native woman who also happens to be a trained anthropologist. I spend an ungodly amount of time thinking about the microaggression loaded in an image and for me, the issues of position and voice are huge. I don’t want to be untowardly authoritative because I am not the artist and I cannot know what he intends, but I can say why I find this image so intriguing and, frankly, intellectually exciting. Whether by anthropologist or by media (or by sports teams), the native image is ascribed with so much external meaning. It is reinterpreted, reiterated, reimagined more than almost any other image I can call to mind save for the Buddha and the Christ. But in the process — we all know this — the indigenous voice is completely muted and/or excised from the process. So here we have two images, the buffalo and the archetypal Native man, and they’re both supposed to be museumized, right? They are relics of nostalgia. They’re BOTH supposed to be behind the glass. But here they’re not. Neither buffalo nor man are meant to be interactive, they’re meant to be consumed. We like our savages noble and stoic and most of all silent. But the man is not playing by the rules of the curated. He is interacting both with the viewer and the anthropomorphized version of himself. He is subverting the paradigm. He is museumizing the museum-goer. To me, this is cathartic and shocking and mind-blowing and I am just a little pissed (again!) that one image - ONE - is so loaded in a way that takes me endless hours of literature review and writing to convey. It’s just stunning and I am so in love with it."
— Kerry Hawk Lessard, Medical Anthropologist (United Remnant Band Shawnee)
(photo by Dakota Fine)