I had the honor of being the featured artist of Tidal Echoes 2017. I was asked to present at the launch so wrote a presentation describing the core values which have guided me as a creative (and have acted as core values for us at Trickster Company). I more recently did a super-abbreviated remix of it at Santa Fe Art Institute, here is that video:
I got cut a bit short on time, but here is the full text of that presentation I gave at Tidal Echoes Launch:
Lanaat yoo xat duwasaakw
Yeil naa aya xat
Lukaaxadi xat sitee
Yeil hit aya xat
Shanguqueidi yadi aya xat
Jilkaat dax aya xat
I am Rico Lanaat Worl
I am of the raven moiety
I am from the Lukaaxadi clan
And from the raven house
From the Chilkat Kwaan
I am from my fathers people, the Shanguqeidi
I am from 10 thousand years of a people’s relationship to this land
I am from at least 4 thousand years of a people’s study in a specific design style
I am from 525 year of colonization
And more importantly, I am from 525 years of survivance
I am from the Tlingit People and the Athabascan people
I am from the dedication of the generations before me as they worked to pass the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
I am from a family of strong loving people.
I am from sega genesis and super nintendo with my cousins
And from star trek and star wars with my homework
and I’m from the 90’s with my homies
from the rise of the age of internet.
I am from university of pennsylvania department of Anthropology class of 2008
I am from urban exploration
I’m from hometown Downtown!
I am from pigment and silver
I am from digital vector points.
And all the vector points I am from have created trajectories that have guided my values as a creative today.
I’m reading a book called Medici Effect, the author talks about something called the intersection. He argues that the biggest ideas and innovation come from where fields and disciplines intersect. That in the 15th century renaissance was spurred by the medici families efforts to bolster intersections between artists, scientists, financiers, philosophers, and more.
Modern indigenous people are born into the intersection. We’re born in modern western hospitals and we’re named in traditional ceremony.
Indigenous people have been exploring the intersection sometimes called “walking in two worlds” for quite some time. I am from a family of entrepeneuers and designers. My family made this cover for their Alaska Native Magazine in 1983. As you can see Nelson Angapuk wears a suite and a tie while looking into the mirror and seeing himself in traditional regalia.
The intersections of where I am from has brought me to 3 major goals that all my work addresses: Intra-Community Strength, Inter-Community Connection, and Cultural Diplomacy.
Intra-Community strength is the primary reason I create. The conception of a creative project I’ve been calling Trickster Company happened when I painted my own longboard with my clan crest. To represent. I made one for my cousin and then for his cousin. It was clear Native people were drawn to items that are symbols of both their modern daily identity mixed with representing their indigenous identity. I create to provide symbols for cultural pride. The playing cards were a response to seeing so much “native art” being sold to tourists with little to more likely no return to the communities that spent thousands of years developing these designs styles. I create to bring back a small fraction of that market share to the community who developed it. Our strength as a people will come from within. Survivance is a term coined by Anishinaabe cultural theorist Gerald Viznor. Survivance is more than mere survival, its means to tell of an active presence and a rich faceted continuance. I create as both an act of survivance for myself as well a tool towards our collective survivance.
My second goal is Inter-Community connection. Cross cultural understanding and empathy is vital to our diverse community. And the future is diverse, so it’s urgent we all have strong bridges for sharing our social capital. Look at the level of appropriation fashion industry and you will clearly see that Indigenous design is popular. I often design with the idea that the things made can be consumed by anyone, giving anyone the opportunity to appreciate NWC art style without appropriating it. Making design accessible fosters authentic appreciation and respect between communities.
The third goal is Cultural Diplomacy. As a brand (both personally and through Trickster Company), we have the opportunity to be visible and so we also have the responsibility to represent modern Alaska Native people. A major goal we have in our diplomacy is to combat the myth of “the vanishing indian”. That Native Americans were something that existed only in the past. Some of the design work such as our Star Wars related items show the world that we are here today and we are engaged in the stories that we hear today.
I do this work because where I am from is filled with thousands of generations of people who worked hard for their communities. Who built strong roots for the future to grow from. My culture has carried me and uplifted me. I want to give strong roots for the next generation to come from.
I am always grateful to have an audience where people might see one of the star wars print, or the town meeting sunglasses, or the skateboards. But I don't always have the opportunity to be able to share the bigger picture.
Thank you all for being here. Thank you Tidal Echoes for the honor of having me here. And thank you to all the communities that i am from who are always there to help support me along the way.