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Change the Name Protest Against the Washington Redsk*ns ~ Photos by Douglas Miles

10:54 AM PDT on October 20, 2014

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    Douglas Miles is an artist living and working on the San Carlos Apache Nation in Arizona. Here he recounts his experience at the recent "Change the Name" protest in Phoenix, and shares his photographs of the event.

    On Sunday October 12th the Phoenix Cardinals were to play the Washington Redskins in Phoenix Arizona. My friend Monica and I were invited personally via facebook by Amanda Blackhorse to attend an anti-mascot protest rally. This meant I would not only be there but I would photograph this radical event. For those that don't know, Amanda Blackhorse was the lead plaintiff in Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, Inc. which sought to revoke trademark protection of the term "Washington Redskins" because it is disparaging and racist to Native Americans. She won. The Redskins team is now suing her in a "payback" move. Amanda, a single mother from the Navajo tribe, currently works as a social worker on the Navajo Nation.

    In 2013 I curated "What Tribe" at Self Help Graphics in East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights to be exact. This show featured numerous artists asked to discuss "stereotype" in media. The issue of Native American mascots and stereotypes (of other "tribes") overlap stemming from the same root cause: deep seated institutional racism in America. On the day of the protest as I watched the rally occur I came to the horrific realization that racism against Native Americans is not only accepted in America, it is big business. Often I use my art to discuss socio-historical and current issues facing Native Americans. Because Native people are viewed in romanticized, noble, one-dimensional shallow ways, I utilize photography as a medium to show the hidden, forgotten everyday "real" lives of Native people, not the trend that hipsters, charities or cultural exploiters look for. My photographs are new forms of street photography. Some of the street photographers that inspire me are Mike Miller, Estevan Oriol, Ricky Powell, Gordon Parks and especially Eriberto Oriol, a master of the macrocosmic Los Angeles downtown photogravure groove.

    Having grown up in an era of radicalism, I saw my own brothers and sisters take stands marching against oppression of American Indians during the "Red Power" Movement during the 70's. Growing up in South Phoenix I also witnessed the Brown Berets cruising dutifully to protect barrio dwellers. My hopes are that my paintings, art, writings, photography and even the skate films of my company, Apache Skateboards, create a new iconography for Native people by Native people, not a pitiful, stereotypical angle frequently used in pop culture. The photographs of the anti-Redskins protest are the documents of a time in the streets where Native people must now go to reclaim indigenous territory and respect. You can see families, single Mothers, teachers, artists, elders, leaders, children and allies come together for a unified cause, to smash racism in various forms. In American history, a " Long Walk" occurred when Natives were forced from ancestral homelands. Creating a movement takes hard work, dedication and a brave few. The new Long Walk must now take place figuratively and literally in the hearts and minds of the people first.

    All photographs © Douglas Miles.

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    Douglas Miles is an artist, writer, photographer and curator living and working on the San Carlos Apache Nation in Arizona. He can be reached at dm1apache@me.com .
    Follow him : @dmiles1_apache @whattribeproject / twitter: @apachesk8boards
    www.apacheskateboards.com

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