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Smiling Indians by Ryan Redcorn

March 30, 2014 , ,

Ryan Redcorn, an Osage entrepreneur, has produced this video of smiling Indians.  It is dedicated to Edward Curtis whose Native American images dominate the web and the memory.  Just yesterday I was at the Arizona State Museum viewing some Curtis photos shot in Arizona, and all were new to me.  His seemingly endless portfolio was shot in the first decades of the 20th century.   The work has become controversial.  Mr. Redcorn believes in producing yourself, which inspired him to create this video as a counterpoint to Curtis.

I was in Pawhuska, Oklahoma a few years ago on an ancestry hunt.  My cousin and I were trying to sort out a story that our great-grandmother as Cherokee.  We never found any evidence pro or con, but we went to the tribal headquarters of both the Osage and Cherokee tribes to seek answers.  My cousin (like many Americans) was stuck on the romantic notion that we are Cherokee.  When I saw the tiny museum in Pawhuska and talked to the curators I wanted to be Osage.  They were always distinct among the 5 civilized tribes.  They got rich from oil and spent much of their wealth buying products from France, especially elaborate fashion items.   My father told me when he was a kid the Osage used to drive around in Cadillacs with goats in the back seat.  I am probably not descended from the Osage tribe, but I do really admire the way they are.  I loved the art, the history, and their sense of humor on my visit with them.  Now I also love Ryan Redcorn who has a sense of humor and a bigger sense of justice.

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Lovely video – smiling is infectious isn’t it!


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