Chris Pappan

In God's Image I

Pencil/graphite, map collage on 1890's institutional ledger, 12.5"h x 11"w, 20"h x 20"w framed, Item No. 15596,


Looking back to the past (as I so often do in my work), our people didn’t (and still don’t) fit into the strict definitions of a Christian Eurocentric worldview, and were/are misunderstood and feared. Because of our uniqueness, we were imprisoned (still to this day) for simply being “native”; “Kill the Indian, and save the man” as Capt. Pratt so famously said. The “Indian” is much more complex than the white American could understand. One such complexity is the idea that some people can embody the spirit of both genders (now known as Two Spirit people) and was/is seen as witchcraft and an abomination. In the indigenous worldview, these people have a special place in our society, for they can offer special insights that are beneficial to all, and were therefore revered as leaders in their communities (In God’s Image I & II). 


With the loss of so many Indigenous languages, likewise was the loss of the knowledge of curative flora and fauna. But our people survive, the languages are returning, and with them the knowledge of our plant and animal brothers and sisters who are here to help us, and that we in turn may also help them. No longer do we have to subscribe to the Christian, Euro-American doctrines as they pertain to healthy mind, body and spirit. Indigenous people have always understood what we now call a holistic view of our welfare, and the white male dominated society is starting to realize the benefits of that idea also; the idea that to be healthy physically, you need to be healthy mentally and as a community; the idea that drugs or medicines are only one part of the “whole”; and that songs, stories, actions and movements have their own curative properties as well.