My first encounter with a blue and white sign from the “Native Hosts” project from the art+exhibition program at Pitzer College was en route to class last year. I was so impacted by my confusion at first when I couldn’t read “California” that I  aimlessly targeting people who walked by with my questions about where the signs came from, yet I wasn’t able to determine anything more about the signs, just that there were other signs on campus.

After our first class, I went in circles, in pursuit of finding more “hosts.” Through further research, I read informational pieces on the art+exhibition program at Pitzer and about the artist, Heap of Birds, from which I learned about the names printed on signs. These local hosts are names of places in nature and serve to remind us that we are on lands with native hosts.

From an informative piece written in TSL online, the inspiration for “Native Hosts” by Heap of Birds reflects his “vision of conducting his art projects by entering a new space and acknowledging that he is a guest on lands with native hosts.” I think this project “turns the tables” on students, as we walk the paths of the Colleges with the mindset that we are not guests on our campus, when in actuality we are walking on land that shares a longer history than we know and one that is still very prevalent.

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About Hannah Webster

Hello, my name is Hannah Webster. Brand Strategy, Design & Marketing Consulting | Public Relations in Los Angeles | Research: “VR Digital Storytelling Tech Elicits Empathy in its Viewers”

2 responses »

  1. Yes I so agree that it turns the tables on the students, encouraging us to see ourselves as guests… Knowing that we only have four years here I have always felt a little transient compared to the longevity of the institutions themselves. But I also like thinking of our colleges as guests on the land. And whatever was before… and whatever will come after…

  2. laureljaclyn says:

    I agree. I think it’s really important to acknowledge this idea of Native Americans as “hosts.” It falls in line with the Native American understanding of history that does not see Western American history as permanent in any way.

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