Both local and national artists explore trauma and release at the Central District gallery.
by Jas Keimig
Theda Sandiford has always been making art.
As the daughter of a Caribbean father and a German-Polish mother, the Queens-born artist grew up helping her grandmother sew sequins onto G-strings and feather headdresses for Carnival. “My grandmother was old school,” Sandiford told me over the phone recently. “She believed every proper young lady needed to know how to sew.” Deeply attuned to the world around her, Sandiford consistently found inspiration in items and objects that others might consider unworthy of artistic pursuit.
Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have celebrated storytelling as a way to connect the present to past lessons and future dreaming. Narrative sovereignty is a form of land guardianship, and Nia Tero supports this work through its storytelling initiatives, including the Seedcast podcast, as well as in this column for media partner the South Seattle Emerald.
(In Ichishskíin) Ínknash waníkxa̱ Mariana Harvey. Washnash Yakama kníck.
I’m Mariana Harvey. I’m an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. My bands are Klickitat and Sk’in-pah. I am also Táytnapam, Spokane, Choctaw, Swedish, and Black. Culturally, I was raised Yakama in the City of Seattle. Being Yakama and an Urban Native is how I orient myself in the world.
I am the wild foods and medicines program coordinator for Garden Raised Bounty, or GRuB, in Olympia, Washington. I’m an íła (mother), and I have a beautiful 2-year-old son named Áyut as well as a loving partner named Itsa. We all live together in the lands of the Squaxin Island, Nisqually, and Chehalis peoples, currently known as Olympia, Washington. I am honored to share a little bit about our journey re-Indigenizing our lives through parenthood.
The revolution, as they say, starts at home. When I was pregnant, I started to ask more questions about my grandmothers. What were their lives like? What was motherhood like for them? I’d grown up knowing that my paternal grandmother went to boarding school and that Ichishskíin was her first language. Due to the violence, trauma, and assimilation of boarding school, she did not pass on her first language in our family. It wasn’t until I was on my own motherhood journey that I really sat with these stories, sat with and appreciated the strength of my grandmother for all she went through raising seven children after what she had been through as a child herself. I had a moment where I realized, “These are the traumas we [today’s Indigenous families] are trying to heal from today.”