Shan Goshorn / Eastern Band Cherokee
Although my career was initially launched in the mid 1980’s with hand-colored black and white photographs, I don’t consider myself a photographer. I think of myself as an artist who chooses a medium as a tool for the best possible way to express a statement. Recently, I have found myself drawn to the traditional crafts of my people, specifically basket making, as a way to illustrate my political statements and bring awareness to contemporary native issues. Combining reproductions of historical documents and photographs with contemporary ones, and weaving them together using traditional techniques and patterns, I strive to educate an audience about some of the unique issues that continue to impact Indian people, i.e. tribal sovereignty, gaming, repatriation, treaty violation, the commercial use of our images and names (mascots, etc), denial of religious freedom and the highest rate of substance/alcohol-related suicide.
It is my belief that much of the “dis-ease” and struggles of Indian people are a result of America’s policy regarding the first peoples. Whether it is from the attempts to erase all Native identity by denying Indian children their language and culture through boarding schools assimilation, breaking ties among tribal support through Indian relocation acts, providing Indian people with commodity food that have contributed to major illnesses, etc., historical trauma continues to plague us in a big way. It is my goal to enlighten audiences to these ongoing practices and encourage honest dialogue between people. I believe it is only through mutual understanding and respect that we can move forward and heal the wounds created by these repeated violations of our human rights.