July 4, 2011

Wendy Ponca's American Goddess

On this Independence Day, I wanted to post this beautiful photo:

It is a picture Wendy Ponca (Osage) shared with me, which features Ponca's body art on the back of a woman.

Floral and applique designs are drawn on her back, representing the many important cultural practices that women carry forth to future generations. The image also brings to mind the many times when Native people used US national holidays as opportunities to continue their practices (under the guise of patriotism), especially during the Assimilation and Reservation eras in which several traditions were outlawed. The Fourth of July was once such holiday. This image captures that moment when the guise has been dropped, and the true self revealed.