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One common theme in all my research and the work I did was balance. There are some Natives who had wonderful experiences in these boarding schools; some had horrific. So, when retelling the story, how do I honor and how do I respect both views on this topic? I consider myself as a conceptual documentarian and I didn't want to overemphasize or underemphasize. It was hard trying to find that balance in that work.

Artist Bishop Ortega

About this Podcast

Welcome to the Nasher Museum Podcast! This episode features artist Bishop Ortega, who lives and works in New Mexico and whose sculptural installation is part of Reckoning and Resilience: North Carolina Art Now. He is in conversation with Duke student Scarlett Guy (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians), and Danny Bell, (Lumbee/Coharie), president of the Triangle Native American Society and retired program coordinator for the Curriculum in American Indian Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. One more episode will be added throughout the exhibition, on view through July 10, 2022.

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The transcript is available below.

About Bishop, Danny and Scarlett

Danny Bell is Lumbee and Coharie.  He attended East Carolina Indian School and East Carolina College.  Danny served for 31 years combined in the U.S. Army and the 440th Army Band, NCARNG.  He worked for the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs for 14 years, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 27 years, where he maintained a focus on American Indian students, American Indian & Indigenous Studies, and engagement between UNC and N.C. Tribes and communities.  Danny served eight years as a member of the N.C. State Advisory Council on Indian Education and served on the NC Archaeological Society. He is a member of the Nasher Museum Friends Board.

Scarlett Guy is a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. She grew up on the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, North Carolina, in the western part of the state. She graduated from Duke in May 2022 after studying anthropology, linguistics and documentary studies. She took Cherokee language classes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She served as president of the Duke Native American/Indigenous Student Alliance (NAISA). Follow @dukenaisa on Instagram.

Bishop Romero Ortega is a documentarian and conceptual artist from Phoenix, Arizona, who tells stories primarily through film and photography but also works in various kinds of mediums. Currently he lives with his wife and four children in Cary, N.C. He recently earned his Master in Fine Arts degree in Experimental and Documentary Arts at Duke University.

“As a documentarian and artist, I am seeking to tell stories in non-Western and European ways.  Stories of people and events forgotten and not talked about, in order to ask questions and raise awareness. These stories have no intended political slant or affiliation. I try to avoid social fads and causes that easily burn out and are quickly replaced by the next trending movement. It is my hope to create work that allows people to slow down and think, before responding.”

Ortega enjoys collaborating and creating with other artists and although he likes digital photography, he says, “There’s nothing like the closing shutter sound from his Hasselblad 500cm.” He views himself more as conceptual artist than a filmmaker or photographer, the latter being his primary mediums.

 

I've met so many people here at Duke that have said, 'Oh you're the first Native American I've ever met!' And I'm probably not, but I'm the first that you know of. And it's just crazy that so many people also have this reaction of like, 'I didn't even know Native Americans still existed.' And that's how intense this erasure is. There are even people who come from states with very high Native populations like North Carolina, which is one of the highest Native populations East of the Mississippi. People from North Carolina here who are not Natives, at Duke, who are just appalled that they didn’t know that there are eight tribes in North Carolina.

Scarlett Guy, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian, Duke Class of 2022, outgoing president of the Duke Native American/Indigenous Student Alliance

Podcast Transcript

Scarlett Guy
Hello, everyone my name is Scarlett Guy. And I am a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. And I grew up on the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, North Carolina, which is located in Western North Carolina.

Danny Bell
Hello, I’m Danny Bell. I’m from the Lumbee and the Coharie tribes of Eastern North Carolina. I grew up in Sampson and Robeson County and I’m retired from UNC Chapel Hill, American Indian Studies. And I volunteer with a variety of American Indian activities in the Triangle Area.

Bishop Ortega
Hi, I’m Bishop Ortega. I graduated from Duke in 2020 in the M.F.A. / E.D.A. program, the experimental documentary arts program. And my work is currently on exhibit in the Nasher Museum of their Reckoning and Resilience of North Carolina Arts Now exhibit. I did my work for my thesis project which was called Kill the Indian, Save the Man and it had to do with the Industrial Indian Boarding School that Duke had from 1880 to 1885 when it was Trinity College back in Randolph County. So, I’m originally from Phoenix, Arizona. I came to Durham and just fell in love with the city and the state. We recently moved back to the Southwest where I’m living. Which is outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, right now.

Nasher Podcast Team

J Caldwell, staff photographer, videographer, social media manager, Nasher Museum

Wendy Hower, director of engagement & marketing, Nasher Museum

Yesenia Martinez-Yanez, Appalachian State University Class of 2022, marketing intern, Nasher Museum

Jayah Gomez, North Carolina Central University Class of 2024, marketing intern, Nasher Museum

Organization and Support

This exhibition was organized by the Nasher Museum’s curatorial department: Molly Boarati, associate curator; Adria Gunter, curatorial assistant; Melissa Gwynn, exhibitions and publications manager; Lauren Haynes, Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Senior Curator of Contemporary Art; and Marshall N. Price, Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Chief Curator and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Reckoning and Resilience: North Carolina Art Now is generously supported by Bank of America.

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Additional support provided by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation; The Duke Endowment; Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Fund for Exhibitions; Frank Edward Hanscom Endowment Fund; Janine & J. Tomilson Hill Family Fund; J. Horst & Ruth Mary Meyer Fund; John & Anita Schwarz Family Endowment; Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Foundation; Katie Thorpe Kerr and Terrance I. R. Kerr; Lisa Lowenthal Pruzan and Jonathan Pruzan; and Kelly Braddy Van Winkle and Lance Van Winkle.

There’s a big story of Natives in the South. That’s been invisible with the Southern black and white issues. Ever since slavery came along, I think Indians have been on the fringe of any discussion about the loss of land and displacement. But you know it’s our invisibility.

Danny Bell
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