Mamook Closhe--Using art to make good
"All we want is an apology"
My good friend Seidel Standing Elk is from the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana. When I was talking to him one day he reflected on the scores of people who come to the reservation to try to help. He then said, “All we want is an apology.” Our “white bubble” (the insular viewpoint white folks live in) traps us into thinking that we know the needs of those who are different from us. We tend to imply that “if you only become more like us,” things will be better for you; we have a religion that will be better than yours; we have a way of life that will be better than yours.
A few weeks after I heard Seidel talking about how powerful an apology would be, I asked him if my people were to present a sculpture to a Native American community as a symbol of an apology, how would that be received by your community? Seidel responded positively. Sometime after this exchange the idea expanded such that the community which had received the sculpture would give a sculpture to the gifting community as a symbol of accepting the apology.
Unfortunately, a name for this idea escaped me. I remembered Roy Wilson, an Elder in the Cowlitz tribe from Washington State. Roy has compiled a dictionary with words from the Pacific Northwest Indian trade language. I asked Roy if he could come up with a phrase for the sculptural exchange. Mamook Closhe is what he gave us. It means MAKE GOOD.
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