LEARNING THE TRADITIONAL LAKOTA VISUAL LANGUAGE THROUGH SHAPE PLAY
Sadie Red Wing
LEARNING THE TRADITIONAL LAKOTA VISUAL LANGUAGE THROUGH SHAPE PLAY Sadie Red Wing Department of Graphic and Industrial Design College of Design North Carolina State University Master of Graphic Design April 26, 2016
DENISE GONZALES CRISP Professor of Graphic Design | Committee Chair
HELEN ARMSTRONG Associate Professor of Graphic Design | Committee Member
KERMIT BAILEY Associate Professor of Graphic Design | Committee Member
A Graduate Graphic Design Thesis Written and Designed by Sadie Red Wing Overviewed by Denise Crisp Gonzales
North Carolina State University College of Designw 50 Pullen Road Raleigh, NC 27695
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ÂŠ 2016 Sadie Red Wing No portion of this document may be used or reproduced in any manner without prior consent of Sadie Red Wing.
TABLE OF CONTENTS 5 Abstract 6 Problem Statement 7 Keywords 9 Justification 11 Limitations 12 Assumptions 12 Methods 13 Literature Review 17 Pan-Indianism 27 Visual Intelligence 29 Diachronic Analysis 31 Visual Language Conventions 35 Persona 37 Design Strategy One 37 Phase One 38 Phase Two 40 User Journey Map 46 Phase Three 49 Design Strategy Two 55 Design Precedents 59 Prototype 65 Conclusion 68 Appendix A: Timeline 70 Appendix B: Interview 79 Appendix C: Shape Kit Materials 83 Appendix D: Shape Tool Artifacts 87 Bibliography 91 Acknowledgements
ABSTRACT When designing artifacts intended to represent Native American tribes (sovereignties), designers should incorporate traditional symbolism. However, Native American graphic designers tend to disregard the visual languages that reflect tribal distinction. Indigenous graphic designers who do not practice their tribal visual conventions typically resort to “Pan-Indian” imagery. The alternative to Pan-Indian visual language is to apply specific Native American visual languages that communicate distinctive qualities of sovereignty. For instance, tribes have diverse visual vocabularies to communicate their culture, but tend to use indigenous stereotypes (Pan-Indian), to define their artifacts as “Native American.” The use of tribal visual language requires some education about indigenous symbol-based vocabulary to accurately represent cultural values in visual form. Pan-Indianism lumps diverse Native American tribes into a single category for classification purposes, which devastates tribal sovereignty. Pan-Indian imagery applied in Native American graphic design communicates meaningless and inappropriate messages that express little, if any, tribal value. The use of Pan-Indian graphical elements reinforces stereotypes of tribes, who already struggle with identity oppression. My thesis investigation explores design strategies that expose Native American graphic design students to their own sovereign visual language. In order to advance a tribal visual language, specific conventions that are unique to each visual vocabulary need to be identified. Additionally, the visual grammar (conventions of use) needs to be defined. The design strategies I employ examine procedures for constructing conventional configurations suitable for tribal college student designers. My investigation includes: designed artifact precedents that misrepresent Native American tribes through Pan-Indian design; a conventional analysis of the Lakota visual language; and design strategies applied to grammar configuration in a physical and digital workspace. Once students understand the lack of visual sovereignty in Native American graphic design, the design tool will motivate them to communicate their traditional language.
PROBLEM STATEMENT HOW CAN DESIGN STRATEGIES ENCOURAGE LAKOTA COLLEGE DESIGN STUDENTS TO APPLY THEIR TRADITIONAL VISUAL LANGUAGE WHEN CREATING ARTIFACTS THAT REPRESENT THEIR TRIBE? Sub-Question 1 | How is the Lakota visual language understood using a basic shape vocabulary? Sub-Question 2 | How can a digital platform develop a workspace for Lakota designers to learn traditional visual language? Sub-Question 3 | How can a design interaction tool elevate the Lakota visual language by integrating the conventions within a digital workspace?
Rules or approaches that have become accepted through use when guidelines or manuals may not exist (Drucker and McVarish, 2009).
A segment of design practice that helps designers determine what artifacts need to be made, point to innovations and implement processes for the benefit of the consumer and producer (Davis, 2012). In the context of this investigation, the strategies help the researcher determine a design tool that will benefit students.
INTERACTION TOOL A tool that solves specific problems under a particular set of circumstances using the materials available (Saffer, 2010).
The demonstration of grouping diverse indigenous tribes into a single category when classifying a culture. Tribes are losing their distinctiveness to a generalized, non-tribal “Indian” impression (Luis, 2016). The disappearance of distinctive qualities results in the loss of tradition and identity for tribal cultures. Even though the Pan-Indian Movement fights against indigenous extinction, the process of panning traditional cultures continues the assimilative tactics that undermine sovereign nations.
In Native American graphic design, the term Pan-Indian debuted when tribal stereotypes proliferated in mainstream media. The word has now become slang for indigenous graphic designers to describe imitational, cheesy, and cliché tribal decoration.
SHAPE GRAMMARS Vocabulary of spatial objects, or shapes, that can be recombined and decomposed in different ways (Stiny, 2006).
Federally recognized tribes are considered independent nations. Sovereignty refers to tribesâ€™ right to govern themselves, define their own membership, manage tribal property, and regulate tribal business and domestic relations. Each tribe has a government-to-government relationship with other tribes and the federal government (http://www.civilrights.org, 2016).
The discipline that studies grammar in construction of phrases and the articulation of a language (Vignelli, 2010).
VISUAL LANGUAGE A visual language communicates a system of visual elements. Native American tribes represent themselves significantly through the use of imagery that pertains to their traditional cultures. Tribal imagery expresses messages that signify their identity amongst other indigenous nations.
JUSTIFICATION Every time I slip on my moccasins, I recall the disappointment I felt when I first received them. I am extremely thankful for the lengths my family took to present me with such an expensive graduation gift. When asked to sketch a personal design for the roof of my moccasins, I drafted a traditional feather and horse track design to represent my achievement in education. The sketch in Figure 1.1 shows my intentions of using three feathers to display my degrees earned. The horse tracks bordering the edge of the moccasin emphasize the journey traveled to achieve my higher education goals. I specifically used traditional Lakota symbols to portray myself as a successful Lakota graduate in the Western school system, and also, to own a pair of traditional Lakota moccasins for the first time. When I received my moccasins, I was appalled that the traditional feather symbols were replaced by stereotypical icons of feathers, Figure 1.2. Not only do the stereotypical feathers look awkward against the traditional horse tracks, the moccasins do not function as traditional Lakota footwear.
FIGURE 1.1 | MOCCASIN SKETCH I drew this traditional Lakota moccasin pattern.
FIGURE 1.2 | BEADED MOCCASIN My fully beaded moccasins. The blue beads represent the Missouri Riverâ€”my home.
As an advocate for traditional indigenous design, I feel like a hypocrite wearing my moccasins. My message of encouraging visual sovereignty is not revealed through my walk. I stress the importance of sovereign representation in my thesis. When tribes use stereotypes in their traditional visual language to represent them, they are not providing a sense of belonging for their tribal members. Pan-Indian imagery is stereotypical. Tribes cannot communicate a sovereign identity with icons that infuriate their own people. A traditional visual language is what gives tribes a specific identity. When tribes represent themselves with a language, they are verifying their existence. The use of stereotypes for traditional Native American designs fuels my anger against designers who are ignorant in visually communicating a tribe appropriately. Tribal audiences are easily offended by stereotypes in graphic design. Indigenous designers have the ability to address audience sensitivity by researching and communicating a visual language that provides meaningful tribal affiliations. This thesis investigation channels my design frustration into a manifestation that demonstrates possible ways of alleviating ignorance for aspiring Native American graphic designers.
LIMITATIONS In the thesis, the word “Sioux” will not be used to identify the tribal culture. I imply sovereignty heavily in my defense. Sioux does not follow the sovereign principles, for the term does not distinguish the Lakȟóta and Dakȟóta tribes of the Great Plains region. The focus of the investigation relies on the Lakȟóta visual language. When researching a traditional language, involvement in the community strengthens the understanding of how to communicate appropriately. Resources of Lakota education, for the thesis research, depend on the outreach to Lakota members fluent in the verbal and visual language.
L A K Ȟ Ó TA | Lakota D A K Ȟ Ó TA | Dakota
The topic of Pan-Indianism affecting indigenous visual languages has not been proven in academic research. My awareness of the situation is based on my personal experience as a Lakota graphic designer. Thesis research involving personal experience narrows the scope of investigation to a single point of view. My view targets Lakota graphic designers who use Native American stereotypes to represent their tribe. Lakota designers might well trust my judgment and suggestion as I am one of the firsts conducting the primary research of the topic. Design strategies performed in the investigation intend to familiarize Lakota designers with the visual vocabulary. Shape grammar tools are not designed to create fluent visual communicators. The transition of communicating the traditional language from physical artifacts to digital platforms is still new in the Lakota culture, so the level of instruction remains at a novice level.
ASSUMPTIONS Pan-Indian dominance in Lakota graphic design relates to designer motivation to communicate, traditionally. I assume Lakota designers are not fluent in the visual language because their motivation to use the tribal language is low. In order to boost motivation, my final project investigates ways to enhance the visual linguistic skills through design strategies. I propose that a digital tool would encourage the designer to practice without relying on oral teachings. A workspace interface allows Lakota designers to learn visual syntax through creative shape play. Playing with Lakota shapes enhances the learning through playful practice instead of memorization. The stress of keeping a traditional visual language alive requires joy to ease the anxiety of extinction.
METHODS Methods of research applied in the investigation include:
• Interview: museum collection specialist, Dylan Iron Shirt.
• Artifact analysis: of Native American artifacts exposing Pan-Indian imagery.
• Persona: of a typical user’s process through the design kit and tool.
• User journey map: to anticipate the experience of using the design kit.
• Workshop: to observe student activity working with Lakota shapes.
• Precedent analysis: of a digital tool.
• Literature review: capturing research material on visual language conventions, rules
of syntax, and alteration between traditional and stereotypical artifacts.
LITERATURE REVIEW HALL, SEAN. THIS MEANS THIS, THIS MEANS THAT: A USER’S GUIDE TO SEMIOTICS. LONDON: L. KING PUB., 2007.
Sean Hall’s introduction to decoding the theory of signs with visuals provides excellent example of how to make meaning in the contemporary culture. Hall’s breakdown of everyday signs allows readers to justify the differences between semiotic elements, and understand the functions of how visuals communicate. I use Hall’s rendition of Charles Sanders Peirce’s semiotic theories to assign meanings to Lakota grammar.
HALL, STUART. REPRESENTATION: CULTURAL REPRESENTATIONS AND SIGNIFYING PRACTICES. LONDON: SAGE IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE OPEN U, 1997.
Stuart Hall’s system of representation explores the cultural relationship between visual images and languages. Hall analyzes representation through windows of meaning, truth, knowledge and power. I feel he provides a great understanding of how cultural representation gives humans a sense of identity and importance through meaning. Hall emphasizes meaning as “a sense of our own identity, of who we are and with whom we ‘belong’” (1997; 3).
LYFORD, CARRIE A., AND WILLARD W. BEATTY. QUILL AND BEADWORK OF THE WESTERN SIOUX. LAWRENCE, KAN.: PRINTING DEPT., HASKELL INSTITUTE, 1940.
Carrie A. Lyford’s historical analysis of traditional Lakota artifacts provides accurate information about symbolic elements of the tribe’s design. Lyford supplies a conventional catalog of meanings behind symbols. Lyford’s categorization of Lakota shapes is the source of the Lakota visual vocabulary used in this investigation. My attempt to structure an ancient language into a visual communication framework depends on evaluating how traditional shapes function as signs in messaging.
MALAMED, CONNIE. VISUAL LANGUAGE FOR DESIGNERS: PRINCIPLES FOR CREATING GRAPHICS THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. BEVERLY, MA: ROCKPORT, 2009.
Connie Malamed’s visual cognitive characteristics inform an individual’s level of visual intelligence through two stages of vision: early and later. Early vision scans an environment and recognizes attributes of the objects in sight. Later vision requires knowledge and long-term memory to identify the features in the environment (2009; 45).
SAINT-MARTIN, FERNANDE. SEMIOTICS OF VISUAL LANGUAGE. BLOOMINGTON: INDIANA UP, 1990.
Fernande Saint-Martin demonstrates how the syntax of a visual language develops a form of representation and communication for nonverbal languages. His source for visual communication betters my understanding of how a culture relies on signs for representational purposes. Analyzing Lakota designs as a visual language is difficult when no external criteria of cultural collectivities have been recorded specifically for this tribe. Visual speakers—an artist or producer of a visual representation—do not enjoy the authority of identifying what belongs to a certain language (1990; 67). As a Lakota visual speaker, I agree, but my ignorance shuts the opportunity to explore the traditional language with applied semiotics and syntax. Syntactic rules allow greater interpretations for linguistic functions (1990; 67). The rules of communicating the Lakota visual language emphasize the values of structural behaviors to provide a meaningful syntax.
STINY, GEORGE. SHAPE: TALKING ABOUT SEEING AND DOING. CAMBRIDGE, MA: MIT, 2006.
George Stiny’s fascination of shape changeability encourages readers to explore the possibilities of contour configuration in design. He performs equations of shapes to demonstrate how a viewer reads a sequence of visuals. His classification of rules with parts matches my syntactic rules of communicating with shapes.
THIBAULT, PAUL J. RE-READING SAUSSURE: THE DYNAMICS OF SIGNS IN SOCIAL LIFE. LONDON: ROUTLEDGE. 1997.
Paul Thibault presents readers with a cohesive understanding of Ferdinand de Saussure’s linguistic theories with a range of examples that relate to contemporary language research. I felt it was appropriate to use Saussure’s diachronic analysis to show how Pan-Indianism affects traditional indigenous design. Saussure’s dynamic system of inherited properties examines changes in language systems through four traits: history, change, evolution, and flux. The diachronic analysis focuses on history and change when spotting variations of certain aspects in a linguistic system.
PAN-INDIANISM The term Pan-Indian originates in Native American actions against the dominant Western culture to stimulate survival for future generations. In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed the Indian New Deal that granted certain rights to Native Americans under the Indian Recognition Act (Reyhner, 2013). During the Indian New Deal, American Indian boarding schools broke from assimilated rule—allowing Native American students to band together to revive the culture they lost in school. The Pan-Indian movement during the American Indian Boarding School Era saved the indigenous race from complete extinction. In 1973, the American Indian Movement sparked a new outlook of Pan-Indianism, and positive aspects of sustainability benefited tribes’ fight for sovereign rights.
PAN-INDIAN TIMELINE 1879 - PRESENT 7TH GENERATION FIGHT FOR SOVEREIGNTY 2000 - Present
AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT 1968 - Present
AMERICAN INDIAN BOARDING SCHOOL ERA 1879 - 1973 187 0
PAN-INDIAN MOVEMENT 1940 - Present AMERICAN WESTERN “HOLLYWOOD” ERA 1950 - Present FIGURE 2.1 | TIME LINE OF PAN-INDIANISM
The white box indicates that Pan-Indianism was at its peak in the 1970s.
As Pan-Indian actions liberated Native American society, the results generalized an obscured identity for sovereign tribes. Media coverage represented sovereign tribes through stereotypical visuals, as seen in Hollywood’s Western movies (Iron Shirt, 2015). The Hollywood stereotypes established a culture of Pan-Indian solidarity that falsely educated moviegoers. Progressive fabrication of Native American culture emerged from Western movie genres to other consumer artifacts and communications as the popularity of Pan-Indian expression spread. Stereotypical graphics now include dream catchers, bows, arrowheads, chief facial profiles, headdresses, primitive weapons, peace pipes, teepees, buffalos, and turtles. These and similar symbols have become the library of recognizable icons that Native American graphic designers reference to visually communicate their indigenous culture. Tribal stereotypes presented in graphic design taint ancient indigenous establishments. Because dramatic impacts dwindled the knowledge of traditional visual languages, dependent tribes represent themselves with stereotypes without worry. A common representational artifact for sovereign nations is the tribal flag. Tribal flags give opportunity for indigenous tribes to flaunt their independence. In Figure 2.2, flags reveal sovereign symbols that distinguish certain tribes. Each flag contains symbols specific to the tribe represented. For example, the diamond symbol on the Northern Cheyenne flag is only used by that tribe. Other tribes do not share the diamond symbol in their visual vocabularies. Unlike the flags in Figure 2.3, the Pan-Indian images of turtles and feathers are shared with multiple tribes. Pan-Indian imagery, such as the turtle, does not communicate a visually distinct tribal identity. Flags with sovereign imagery, by contrast, exactly show the tribe being represented. The symbols on sovereign flags express meaning to define each tribal culture. As theorist, Stuart Hall, states, “meaning is what gives us a sense of our own identity, of who we are and with whom we ‘belong’’ (1997; 3). Tribes using the turtle to identify themselves cannot create a sense of belonging for their members if other tribes share the same image.
FIGURE 2.2 | TRIBAL FLAGS WITH SOVEREIGN IMAGERY Each flag contains visuals distinctive to a specific tribe.
Morongo Band of Mission Indians
Li ttl e She l l C hi p p e wa
FIGURE 2.3 | TRIBAL FLAGS WITH PAN-INDIAN IMAGERY The text has been removed to show the difficulty of identifying a specific tribe with Pan-Indian graphics.
A similar case can be seen in SeĂąora Lynchâ€™s The Gift, a pathway at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Haliwa-Saponi artist designed The Gift to represent the Native American students on campus. Icons displayed in the pathway include Pan-Indian images, similar to the tribal flags. The pathway functions well as an artifact that represents diverse tribes with few images. I believe that if The Gift incorporated traditional visuals specific to the North Carolina region, the pathway would provide a greater sense of belonging to the UNC-Chapel Hill indigenous students. The regions that tribes are native to form the values of their indigenous culture. Identifying a tribal audience with the wrong region does not provide a culture they recognize.
FIGURE 2.4 | THE GIFT AT UNC-CHAPEL HILL
FIGURE 2.5 | THE GIFT SYMBOLS
The brick mosaic depicts Southeastern Native American life with turtles, feathers, corn, mountains, and water.
Symbols, like the turtle and corn, are used by multiple tribes. The icons in The Gift are Pan-Indian.
FIGURE 2.6 | DE-ENROLLMENT “‘De-Enrollment’ addresses the controversy of dis-enrolled tribal members throughout the U.S. and the association to the lack of cultural knowledge, especially for California tribes” (Mace, 2016).
Another example is the California Republic graphic tee designed by Urban Outfitters. Dakota Mace, a Navajo photographer, documented the use of a stereotypical Pendleton design for Urban Outfitter products in her Woven Juxtaposition exhibit at the University of Wisconsin. In “De-Enrollment,” Mace argues that the traditional New Mexican Navajo rug inspired the Pendleton design inside the California bear.
The southwestern rug design appropriately identifies tribes in New Mexico—not California. Mace’s concern for inaccurate representation of California’s tribal affiliation shown on the graphic tee threatens the independent image of tribes indigenous to the Golden State. How might the Urban Outfitter’s tee be designed to appropriately represent California tribes? To answer this question, I needed first to research a California tribe with a rich visual language. I looked to traditional basketry for symbols specific to the Northern California tribes. Once I established the traditional visual vocabulary, I replaced the stereotypes, that Pendleton had designed, with Maidu tribal patterns that more accurately represent tribes of the California Republic (Figure 2.9).
FIGURE 2.7 | TRADITIONAL CALIFORNIAN BASKETS
FIGURE 2.8 | TRADITIONAL MAIDU SYMBOLS
“Our Precious Legacy: Mountain Maidu Baskets from the MeadowsBaker Families” Maidu Museum and Historic Site, 2010.
These symbols are taken from the baskets in Figure 2.7
FIGURE 2.9 | TRADITIONAL TO PAN-INDIAN (Below) The diagram identifies the shift from traditional symbols to stereotypical icons.
FIGURE 2.10 | MAIDU REPUBLIC (Left) Redesigned California Republic Urban Outfitter Graphic Tee with Northern California tribal patterns.
The Californian tribal pattern in the bear teaches audiences the indigenous visual culture specific to the state. California tribes that settle for the original Urban Outfitter graphic are showing their dependency on stereotypes. When tribes use stereotypes to identify themselves, they are implying permission to associate their tribe with stereotypes, if not promoting the practice. If stereotypes are the only visual language audiences are exposed to, audiences are not learning the visual sovereignty of indigenous cultures.
Native American graphic designers, who associate their tribe with stereotypes, disrespect their cultural identity, as well as encourage visual appropriation for companies, like Urban Outfitters. Museum specialist and Lakota beader, Dylan Iron Shirt, witnesses the harm of stereotypes and appropriation through his work with tribal collections. I contacted Iron Shirt to share his expert opinion about the influence of Pan-Indianism on traditional artifacts.
WHY DO YOU NOT USE PAN-INDIAN IMAGERY IN YOUR BEADWORK?
I do not use Pan-Indian design in my work because I feel that my designs express me. They express a conceptualized view of my world in which I see things, and that world is from a Lakota and Piikani (Blackfeet) world-viewpoint. All of my designs are from my own tribal nations: Geometrical: Lakota. Floral #1: Dakota. Floral #2: Piikani. Abstract Parfleche artwork: Lakota, Dakota, Piikani.
WHY DO YOU THINK THERE IS A LACK OF VISUAL SOVEREIGNTY IN NATIVE AMERICAN DESIGN WORK?
I firmly believe this comes from a lack of respect, a lack of understanding, and a lack of cultural teachings. These are all things that drove and continue to drive us to where we are today. People in the Western-World (the White Man’s world) do not have a clue as to what tribal symbolism, or Native American art, really is. All they see is fashion trends being pushed out on the floors of stores, like Pacific Sun and American Eagle, with imitation Native American-like and Native American-mocked designs. There is no rationale for what is being bought, other than it “looks cool” and it is “in for the season.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS DESIGN FOR NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE?
Design is absolutely everything. Design is and always has been a crucial part of our identity, as Native American people. The implementation of design was incorporated into every curvature of our clothing, from the form lines of our women’s dresses to the contour of our children’s moccasins. The creation of tribally-specific designs and artwork was and continues to be an identity marker for the hundreds of cultures belonging to the 567 plus nations of the Native American people. 25
WHAT DO YOU HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF NATIVE AMERICAN VISUAL SOVEREIGNTY?
I wish fashion designers, and the overall general public, would quit trying to appropriate Native peoples’ culture, designs, and artwork. I would hope that everyone would wake-up and realize that it’s been 500 plus years of treating Native people as lower-class, and “less-than.” In doing so, I would hope that Americans would respect the vibrant and beautiful Native cultures and peoples by resisting themselves to being privileged into thinking they can appropriate Native American culture and art. I hope for my own [tribe], and Native American people as a collective, that we can continue to carry forward, revive, and revitalize our people’s designs and artwork. It is ours, and it belongs to no one else. In some cases, we need to re-educate ourselves and our community about traditional art forms, motifs and designs that belong into our own communities. ◦
I agree with Iron Shirt’s belief that tribal communities need to re-educate themselves in traditional visual communication. Tribes have beautiful visual languages that are not being utilized as they should. It is the Native American graphic designer’s responsibility to visually represent their tribe appropriately. Designers need to show that their tribal audience exists in the world.
DESIGNER’S VISUAL INTELLIGENCE In order to become educated toward visual sovereignty, Native American graphic designers need to recognize the audience level of visual intelligence. Visual designer Connie Malamed proposes that two stages of “vision”—early and later—form the visual literacy of an audience. I use Malamed’s visual intelligence equation to determine the level of motivation and skills of my audience.
CONNIE MALAMED | VISUAL INTELLIGENCE
EARLY VISION “Early vision rapidly scans a wide visual field to detect features in the environment. The first phase of vision is driven by the attributes of the object” (2009; 45).
LATER VISION “Later vision directs our attention to those same features and uses knowledge stored in long-term memory to recognize and identify the shapes” (2009; 45).
VISUAL INTELLIGENCE “These two stages of vision form a complex and little understood interaction that provides us with a unique visual intelligence” (2009; 45).
In my investigation, I target Lakota graphic designers as an audience whose visual literacy can (and must) improve. I consider the Lakota designer’s visual intelligence to be sufficient in early vision and inadequate in later vision. The designer recognizes Lakota imagery through its use in his/her tribal community. Poor later vision of the designer stems from historical trauma. Education pertaining to the visual language disappears through generational passage—and so the traditions of visual communication reach extinction. Breaking from this generational degradation of visual communication relies on the designer’s activity and cultural skills. Improving designer literacy depends on developing the memory’s power to identify and retain early vision artifacts for long-term recollection.
DIACHRONIC ANALYSIS | PAN-INDIAN ICONS TO LAKOTA SYMBOLS Lakota visual communication suffers when stereotypical icons replace the traditional symbols understood in the designer’s early vision. Ferdinand de Saussure’s diachronic analysis helps reveal the functional change of grammars. Historical examination of the Lakota visual language displays the traumatic events leading to the grammar’s shift from symbol to stereotype. The Pan-Indianism timeline (Appendix A) shows the evolution of the Lakota visual culture from the time of its peak to its extinction as the Pan-Indian Movement glorified. The functional change of a grammar is only one aspect affected in the entire language system. As traditional symbols swap for stereotypical icons, the artifact being communicated loses value. The icons substituting for symbols still perform the Lakota conventional syntax, but do not represent the Lakota culture. I argue that the Pan-Indian movement shifted the Lakota semiotic functions of symbols to icons and metonymical stereotypes. While the syntactic structure remained the same in the Lakota language system, the impacts of history and change address the diachronic analysis of stereotypical icons used in the traditional linguistics.
FIGURE 3.1 | NCSU PENDLETON PHONE CASE The example demonstrates how a stereotypical designed iPhone case represents a North Carolina State University, Lakota student greater by replacing the pattern with traditional symbols.
FIGURE 4.1 | LAKOTA GRAMMAR CHART The traditional symbols used in the Lakota visual vocabulary.
LAKOTA VISUAL LANGUAGE CONVENTIONS As a Lakota graphic designer, I cringe at the cliché artifacts my tribe creates to visually represent the Thítȟuŋwaŋ Nation. Why communicate with stereotypes when Lakotas have a strong visual language? All Lakota grammar originates in the line, the triangle, and the square. This line and plane-based vocabulary evolved as Lakotas used porcupine quills to create the traditional shapes because the quill cannot form rounded shapes, like the circle.
Teton Prairie Dwellers
Each shape in the vocabulary functions as a symbol. Lakota audiences cannot make out what the designer is communicating just by looking at the artifact until they know what the symbols mean. The symbols, also, are metonymical and represent the things with which tribal life is associated. As with any language, communication in the Lakota visual language will only work if both the designer and the audience are educated to the visual traditions. Interpretations of Lakota symbols depend on cultural knowledge associated with the function. Lakota visual communicators need to understand the basics behind the sign’s functional meaning before performing the syntactic structures. A feather symbol (Figure 4.2) is too abstract to convey an actual feather to the uninitiated. Lakotas learn that the double-triangle symbol denotes a feather through usage. In the Lakota culture, the definitions of the symbols are passed down through family traditions. No research has revealed why symbols have a specific title, but Carrie Lyford, a Lakota quill and beadwork expert, assumes European traders assigned each symbol certain meanings (1940; 75).
1. Award of Honor 2. Milestone FIGURE 4.2 | LAKOTA FEATHER The Lakota traditional Lakota feather as a symbol and metonym.
3. Lakota Name 4. Count of People 5. In Remembrance 6. Ceremonial Item 7. Personal Recognition
When communicating with the traditional symbols, I remind Lakota designers to think with indigenous ideology. Western ideology demands the denotation of everything. Lakotas speak with intention. The traditional visual communication is extremely open-ended. For example, the symbol a horse track (Figure 4.3) does not necessarily mean an actual horse track. The designer can use the symbol to literally mean the horse’s foot print—if that is what is intended to be communicated. Because the Lakota visual vocabulary contains few grammars, the horse track symbol substitutes for multiple meanings relating to a horse and track like traveling, trails in life, and strength. A designer who says they are as strong as a horse, may use 100 horse tracks, instead of one, to represent strength. One horse track communicates less movement. The power of multiple horses is greater than a single horse. Repeating the symbol adds emphasis to the meaning by boasting the abundance of a quality. Symbol repetition can, also, record numbers of objects belonging to the designer. When symbols combine their meaning becomes more direct. In Figure 4.4, the cloud and lightning symbol connect together to describe the relationship between the shapes. The common representation of a spiritual place, in Lakota belief, is the clouds. The Wakíŋyaŋ live in the clouds. To visually communicate the power of the Wakíŋyaŋ, or a storm, designers attach the lightning to the cloud.
FIGURE 4.4 | STORM
1. “I traveled 3 paths in life.” 2. “I have 3 horses.” 3. “I am as strong as a horse.”
FIGURE 4.3 | HORSE TRACK A demonstration of how a designer communicates the symbol.
WAKÍŊYAŊ | Thunder Being
CLOUDS + HOME
F I G UR E 4. 5 | R EL I G I O US P LA C E
The Lakota spiritual belief influences the visual language by demonstrating equality in the symbol syntax. Lakotas view the spiritual world as a dwelling place equal to the everyday world. Duplicating and mirroring a symbol is a visual convention that expresses equality. Figure 4.5 shows how the cloud and home symbols combine and reflect to create a new symbol that defines a religious place. Repetition, combination, and reflection are syntactic conventions in the Lakota visual language. Their function helps to communicate traditions of shape assembly that are recognizable to the Lakota audience. Once Lakota designers identify the conventions in the early vision stage, they can continue to learn visual communication skills in the activities provided in the design strategies.
PERSONA CHASKE YELLOW BLANKET Oglala Lakota Graphic Designer Sophomore Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Santa Fe, New Mexico
Chaske, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, attends college away from his tribal community. The professor of IAIA’s new media course encourages Chaske to use his traditional visual language in publication assignments. As a victim of generational oppression, Chaske never learned the Lakota visual language. The Yellow Blanket family experienced historical trauma through forced American Indian boarding school education—making their Lakota visual literacy poor. Chaske’s early vision recognizes the Lakota vocabulary by growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Because Chaske, currently, lives far from the Pine Ridge community, he is unable to participate in active Lakota visual communication. He feels ashamed to contact elders of the tribe, as he believes they will be disappointed in him for not knowing his culture. Chaske wishes he could build his visual speaking skills without traveling to his hometown or reaching out to tribal elders.
DESIGN STRATEGY 1 | LAKOTA SHAPE KIT How could Chaske improve his Lakota visual communication skills remotely? Considering Chaske’s wishes, I developed two design strategies that allow students to practice and gain traditional information of the Lakota visual language. When targeting a tribal college student like Chaske, the beginning strategies need to factor in the student’s limited access to resources. The student relies on materials supplied in the classroom, and he typically does not own a personal computer. Classroom materials in tribal colleges are scarce due to the lack of funding for technology and design programs. Therefore, my initial design kit is in a physical format. SUB-QUESTION 1 | HOW IS THE LAKOTA VISUAL LANGUAGE UNDERSTOOD USING A
BASIC SHAPE VOCABULARY?
The first design strategy initiates the student’s activity in Lakota shape configuration. A physical design kit supplies students with materials that elicit playful activity with shapes. Components of the design kit include: an introduction to basic Lakota symbols, an area for play, and an assigned task to build shapes (syntax).
PHASE ONE | INTRODUCTION TO LAKOTA SHAPES
The starting phase presents a typology of conventional shapes fundamental to the Lakota visual language. A designer begins with the basics: line, triangle, and square. With the chart of shape definitions, the designer comprehends how symbols, like the dragonfly and cloud, are generated from the basics. After the designer recognizes the vocabulary of Lakota shapes, he becomes more familiar with shapes through physical activity.
PHASE TWO | LAKOTA SHAPE PLAY
Because the design goal emphasizes shape practice, the doing, Phase Two explores the possibilities of Lakota shape configuration through play. The purpose of practicing with shapes without definite syntax is to get the designer familiar with the traditional grammars. Communicators have tremendous freedom to make meaning using the Lakota symbols. There is no “wrong way” to communicate using the basic shape vocabulary. The intention is the more important aspect of the language. Once the designer has the basics, the range is open to communicate however they want. Before creating the materials for Phase Two, I looked to instruction manuals that show how to assemble parts such as fabric sewing patterns, (Figure 5.1). Sewing patterns are essentially deconstructed articles of clothing. Understanding the manual’s terminology requires background knowledge in the sewing world. Just as the Lakota grammars depend on traditional knowledge, a sewing pattern requires knowledge of how the parts are to be sewn.
FIGURE 5.1 | SEWING PATTERN McCall’s EASY Stitch ‘n Save instructs crafters how to sew a shirt.
This model seemed too complicated, so I turned instead to a more elementary activity. Figure 5.2 shows a children’s project of a disassembled dinosaur model without instructions. The child assembling the dinosaur might have a vague idea of how the dinosaur is constructed—based on familiarity to animal anatomy, or perhaps a picture. Knowing the scientific names for dinosaur bones is not important to the final activity, or to assembling the model.
FIGURE 5.2 | DINOSAUR MODEL The “fossils” of the model dinosaur are buried in sand for children to dig for.
USER JOURNEY MAP | LAKOTA SHAPE KIT
PHASE 2: SHAPE PLAY - COMBINATIONS STUDENT BROWSES SHEETS OF UNLABLED SHAPES:
PHASE 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE SHAPE KIT STUDENT RECEIVES A SET OF SHAPES: 1. List of all Lakota shapes with meanings 2. Sheets of shapes without labels 3. An activity of assembling the Teton logo STUDENT USES SCISSORS TO CUT OUT DESIRED SHAPES
STUDENT READS THE LIST OF SHAPES WITH THE MEANINGS ATTACHED TO BECOME FAMILIAR In the future, the student will recognize the meaning to shapes in other Lakota designs
STUDENT SLIDES ONE SHAPE NEXT TO ANOTHER SHAPE TO MAKE A: 1. New shape
STUDENT NOTICES THAT ALL SHAPES DERIVE FROM: LINE, TRIANGLE, OR SQUARE
2. Basic design
STUDENT RECOGNIZES THE COMBINATIONS OF LAKOTA SHAPES. THESE SHAPE COMBINATIONS ARE SEEN IN POPULAR TRADITIONAL LAKOTA BEADWORK
STUDENT RECOGNIZES HOW THE SHAPES ARE CONFIGURED BASED ON: LINE, TRIANGLE, SQUARE
STUDENT’S CREATIVITY LEADS THEM TO CREATE THEIR OWN BEADWORK DESIGN
No circles, hexagons, five-pointed stars, etc STUDENT READS THE MEANINGS OF THE 11 LAKOTA SHAPES STAR
STUDENT’S DEVELOPS IDEAS FOR THE DESIGN THEY CREATED FROM THE PACKET’S SHAPES TO DECORATE MATERIAL ON ADOBE PROGRAMS
STUDENT INTENDS TO USE THE SHAPES AS A SKETCHING TOOL FOR FUTURE DESIGN WORK NEEDED TO SHOW THE LAKOTA VISUAL LANGUAGE STUDENT FEELS RELEIVED THAT THERE ARE ONLY A FEW SIMPLE SHAPES IN LAKOTA V. LANGUAGE
STUDENT FEELS CONFIDENT THAT THEY CAN REMEMBER THE 11 SHAPES AND THE MEANINGS BEHIND THE SHAPES
STUDENT IS READY TO REVIEW SHAPES WITHOUT THE LABELS
STUDENT PLACES SHAPES BACK INTO PACKET FOR STORAGE
STUDENT SAVES PACKET IN BOOKBAG
STUDENT IS EAGER TO SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCE WITH A FRIEND
PHASE 3: TETON LOGO ACTIVITY As the student becomes familiar with the Lakota shape combinations, they are ready to move onto an activty including the assemblage of an actual Lakota design with a meaning associated with it.
STUDENT VIEWS TETON LOGO
STUDENT READS PARAGRAPH OF THE STORY ASSOCIATED WITH THE LOGO The diamond in the design stands for the eye of the Great Spirit. The cross represents the four directions, and the triangle represents the hill of vision. The section attached to the triangle symbolizes the clouds, the dwelling place for the Great Spirit, and the lightning represents his power. The arrow stands for the abundance of food from the Great Spirit.
STUDENT SEES SHAPES LABELED WITH MEANING
STUDENT LEARNS THE EQUATION OF COMBINDING THE SHAPES TO CREATE THE LOGO
STUDENT CUTS SHAPES INCLUDED IN THE LOGO
STUDENT FORMS SHAPES INTO THE LOGO
STUDENT IS ABLE TO READ THE SHAPES AND RECOGNIZE THE STORY ASSOCIATED W/ LOGO
STUDENT QUESTIONS WHY THE LOGO IS NOT USED MORE OFTEN IN LAKOTA GRAPHIC DESIGN
STUDENT UNDERSTANDS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LOGO FOR THE LAKOTA NATION
By taking the elements of the dinosaur project and applying them to Lakota shape play, the design kit allows students to design an artifact by moving pieces freely. Activity One of Phase Two (Figure 5.3) introduces physical Lakota shapes to student participants without any instruction. Participants relied only on their visual intuition.
FIGURE 5.3 | ACTIVITY ONE Students arrange the transparent shapes into any form.
Student A’s outcome of shape play resulted in a loosely-assembled, abstract, artifact (Figure 5.4). In contrast, Student B’s shape configuration (Figure 5.5) exhibited aspects of Lakota visual syntax. The discovery from Activity One revealed that the final artifacts from shape play were more chaotic without structure or rules.
FIGURE 5.4 | STUDENT A
FIGURE 5.5 | STUDENT B
In Activity Two (Figure 5.6), I provided students with examples and a basic toolâ€”toothpicks. Again, with no formal instruction or rules, I wanted to see how the students would replicate the shapes displayed in front of them.
FIGURE 5.6 | ACTIVITY TWO Students arrange toothpicks into any form.
Student C used the shape list as inspiration for a sailing ship (Figure 5.7). Student D, however, constructed an artifact that closely resembled a traditional Lakota beadwork design (Figure 5.8)â€”without having seen any beadwork artifacts prior to the activity.
FIGURE 5.7 | STUDENT C
FIGURE 5.8 | STUDENT D
PHASE THREE | LAKOTA LOGO TASK
The results of Activity Two led me to realize that visual examples benefit novice learners. From the previous shape activities, I envisioned the potential of interaction growing from a physical to a digital platform.
SUB-QUESTION 2 | HOW CAN A DIGITAL PLATFORM DEVELOP A WORKSPACE FOR
LAKOTA DESIGNERS TO LEARN TRADITIONAL VISUAL LANGUAGE?
Phase Three assigns a simple task for students to complete in a digital platform. I felt it appropriate to start with a design that represents the entire Lakota Nation to familiarize the student with tribal sovereignty. For the purposes of the Lakota Shape Kit, I refer to the design in Figure 6.1 as the Teton Logo.
FIGURE 6.1 | TETON LOGO & SHAPES â€œThe diamond in the design stands for the eye of the Great Spirit. The cross represents the four directions, and the triangle represents the hill of vision. The section attached to the triangle symbolizes the clouds, the dwelling place of the Great Spirit, and the lightning represents his power. The arrow stands for the abundance of food from the Great Spirit. The whole design represents the Sioux cultureâ€? (Everyday Lakota: English-Sioux Dictionary for Beginners, Karol, 1974).
From what I learned in Activity Two, a visual of the logo needs to be displayed in the workspace, which I placed above the configuration area. My next concern was how the shapes would piece together to complete logo.
TASK SKETCH 1.A | SELECT
TASK SKETCH 1.B | OVERLAY
TASK SKETCH 1.C | SWIPE AND LINK
In Task Sketch 1.A, a simple touch illuminates shape options and places each one onto the workspace. Although the student becomes familiar with combinations, the level of activity is low. Task Sketch 1.B incorporates structure and adds a pattern to follow in order to avoid random combinations. A pattern presented in the workspace allows the student to drag each shape to its designated spot. Again, the level of entertainment is low from only dragging shapes in a linear direction. To increase engagement and interactive activity, I tested the effects of swiping and linking in Task Sketch 1.C. Without a visual example or guidance, the ability to construct the logo grows challenging. These screen-based versions of the Lakota Shape Kit raised questions thatÂ led to the next design strategy. To elaborate on the play experience in Phases Two and Three, how influential would the shape configurations beÂ if the meanings of the shapes were displayed with the visual examples? Would more complex examples encourage the students to create an artifact resembling the traditional Lakota visual language? What if the students had the ability to adjust the sizing of the shapes?
DESIGN STRATEGY 2 | OÚŊČHAǦE:
THE LAKOTA INTERACTIVE SHAPE TOOL
Results from the activities discussed above reveal slight improvement in shape-speaking skills even though the students were oblivious to possible meanings. The next investigation relies on visual and interaction elements to increase communication skills. In order to avoid a Pan-Indian look, I specified traditional colors and Non-Native American visual features for the interface design.
OÚŊČHAǦE | Shapes Oo-Cha-Gae
Figure 7.1 demonstrates a traditional Lakota color palette.
FIGURE 7.1 | TRADITIONAL LAKOTA COLORS “Most Sioux designs make use of eight major colors, adding at times a turquoise blue and a darker red. These are usually against a background of white or light blue” (Quill and Beadwork of the Western Sioux, Lyford, 1984). 1. Light Red
2. Light Blue
3. Dark Blue
Figure 7.2 displays the Lakota shapes designed as solids to help distinguish their place in a multiple-shape compilation. FIGURE 7.2 | LAKOTA SOLID SHAPES
SUB-QUESTION 3 | HOW CAN A DESIGN INTERACTION TOOL ELEVATE THE LAKOTA VISUAL
LANGUAGE BY INTEGRATING THE CONVENTIONS WITHIN A DIGITAL WORKSPACE?
Lakota visual structures require rules to perform conventional placement. George Stiny’s idea of classifying rules with parts presents a system that generates shape principles into a grammatical syntax. When Lakota shapes, or parts, are pieced together, the designer is stringing together a sentence. The rules defining the parts’ actions depend on the placement—as I defined: combination, reflection, and repetition. For example, the Teton logo is compiled through a set of rules. The way the symbols are linked together comprehends the meaning of the logo. For my designed tool, I incorporated Stiny’s rule classification structure into an interface that allows users to command Lakota grammar.
FIGURE 8.1 | TETON LOGO COMPILATION
The following sketches show my process of designing icons that relate to Lakota imagery with the use of the triangle grammar:
FIGURE 8.2 | LAKOTA BUTTON SKETCHES
ICONS OF COMBINATION
LAKOTA ICONS OF COMBINATION LAKOTA BUTTON SET
ICONS OF REFLECTION
LAKOTA ICONS OF REFLECTION
ICONS OF REPETITION
LAKOTA I CONS OF REPETI TION
With grammar functions defined, the next process is to incorporate the features onto a digital tool for students. My investigation led to creating an interaction that utilizes shapes as part of user activity. In the following precedents, I analyze interactions of applications that contain a library of shapes, an area to work with shapes, and buttons to perform rules.
INTERACTION DESIGN PRECEDENTS MOMA ART LAB
The MoMA Art Lab application allows users, typically children, to manipulate line, shape, and color. The digital workspace inspires through manual discovery. The device’s interface structure and the tablet’s ability introduce play through physical motion. A simple layout of elements, commands, and a work area allows users to interact without much artistic experience.
FIGURE 9.1 | MOMA ART LAB APP
COMBINE REFLECT REPEAT
Along the bottom of the interface, a library of shapes gives users the option to make an artifact out of contours. In addition to the library, a color palette allows users to stylize the contours, and other commands allows users to experiment with the artifact. The simple interface is basic and useful for classifying rules with parts.
FIGURE 9.2 | OÚŊČHAǦE INTERFACE
Lakota shapes can be maneuvered with the shake of an iPad. This randomizing feature is inspiring. In addition to the open workspace, a visual prompt guides the user to complete a task. Guidance assists the initiative to interact and build skills with the provided elements. The intention of introducing a prompt to my digital tool motivates the practice of shape building, which, I anticipate, will grow the student’s visual literacy.
Shake the iPad to drop the shapes. Assemble the shapes into the Teton Logo as shown. Shake the iPad again to reset.
FIGURE 9.3 | OÚŊČHAǦE SHAKE FEATURE
TATTOO TRIBES: POLYNESIAN TATTOO
The Polynesian Tattoo iPad interface is similar to the MoMA Art Lab interface. Like the Art Lab, this tattoo-drawing tool stores a library of Polynesian visual vocabulary along the bottom of the interface. Because the symbols need cultural definition, the tool links each one to a library of definitions (Figure 10.1). In the Lakota visual language tool, a pop-up name appears in Lakota and English when a user touches a shape. I do not include definitions because designers using this language would define and use the shapes according to preference.
FIGURE 10.1 | POLYNESIAN TRADITIONAL SYMBOLS The application contains a dictionary for the symbols.
earth FIGURE 10.2 | LAKOTA SYMBOL NAME User holds finger on the shape to reveal the shape name.
OÚŊČHAǦE PROTOTYPE As a designer begins using the Oúŋčhaǧe tool, he is presented with two choices: Play or Build. For this prototype demonstration, the designer selects Play to start compiling shapes in the interface’s workspace. The workspace contains the library of Lakota shapes, command buttons that link the shapes using conventional Lakota visual syntax rules, and a color palette. Because the tool is intended for an iPad device, the interaction relies on touch-sensitive movements. Dragging, resizing, and rotation all coordinate with the motions of the designer’s fingers.
FIGURE 11.1 | PROTOTYPE DEMO
FIGURE 11.2 | PROTOTYPE ON THE IPAD
Because the shapes can be arranged freely, the artifacts made in the workspace do not exactly resemble the Lakota visual language. The human finger cannot navigate a shape to complete a precise 90-degree rotation, nor assemble shapes equally kerned or stacked. I opted against guides to follow. Rather, the tool asks the designer to explore and become familiar with the Lakota grammar. The tool is not made to replicate traditional beadwork and quillwork designs. The tool is designed to help Lakota designers discover all the possibilities traditional grammars have when using the traditional visual language. The following artifacts are made with the Oúŋčhaǧe tool:
FIGURE 11.3 | “LAKOTA”
FIGURE 11.4 | WING PATTERN
FIGURE 11.5 | LINE PATTERN
FIGURE 11.6 | DESIGN FROM LAKOTA DRESS
CONCLUSION Before starting the investigation, I knew I wanted to raise indigenous designersâ€™ awareness of Pan-Indianism (visual stereotypes), in Native American graphic design as compared to visual languages that are particular to tribal sovereignty. How best to educate designers about the use of stereotypes in their representational artifacts? How might these designers be encouraged to apply their traditional visual languages? I wanted to set the example of how a designer would go about discovering the significance of traditional, visual communication. First, I deconstructed the Lakota visual language to show students visual vocabulary and grammar. My study of Lakota conventions, in a Western graphic design context, established the basis for the design strategies. The strategies included activities for students to play with basic Lakota shapes. The Lakota Shape Kit activities indicated that shape vocabulary did not play a major role in configuring elements together. The students did not know the shapes made up an indigenous language. Upon seeing the outcomes of the shape kit activities, I transfered the features from the physical workspace to a digital platform. Once the shapes were presented in a digital workspace, the possibilities for arrangement, coloration, became meaningful. I structured the digital workspace with functions that are constrained to the traditional conventions. I felt that a novice designer required extra guidance with simple features. A digital platform allows designers to experience the Lakota grammars. With the digital tool, I wanted to imply that designers can use the traditional language beyond the understood limits of bead and quillwork. The tool familiarizes the novice designer with the Lakota shapes. When the shapes are strung together in the digital workspace, the user successfully uses the visual language. Features of the digital tool give users the opportunity to recognize traditional attributes of the language, like shape titles and color choices. Color choices offer a way to engage a young design student studying in graphic design. The connotation of a light blue, for a non-Lakota, gives a simple-feeling to the interface. Along with the eight vibrant colors of the shapes, the design of the application would be more attractive to an elementary student, rather than a college student.
Many Native American tribes, and other ethnicities, who visually speak a rich language can incorporate their cultural conventions into the tool. Cultures preserve their traditional values by practicing them. With the help of digital tools, tribes can practice their traditional visual languages to keep their identity alive through visual sovereignty.
APPENDIX A | PAN-INDIANISM TIMELINE DECLINE OF THE TRADITIONAL LAKOTA VISUAL LANGUAGE FROM 1820-2016
Before Quillwork was common 1820 in decorational design.
1870 Lakota Designs grew more complex in shapes. 1900 Geometric style in beadwork decreased.
1820 Beadwork replaced quillwork.
1840 Seed beads replaced Pony beads.
1820 Europeans introduced glass beads. 1850 Cabinet of Curiosity A Vast amount of Lakota beadwork was collected as trophy during this period. The demand for traditional Lakota “Art” was high.
N at i v e A m e r i c an A rt Era 1820 - 1920
B as ed o n A m eri c an H i s t o ry, t h i s t i m e p e roi d p re s e n te d the t ran s i t i o n o f t rad t i o n al L ako t a d ec o rat ed , e v e r y d a y ob j e c ts i n to “ N at i v e A m eri c an A rt an d Cra ft ”.
C. Lyford D. Iron Shirt 2 YEARS American Indian Boarding School Era 1879 - 1973 U.S. Gov. ran schools to assimilate (ethnic cleanse) indigenous cultures in America.
7th Generation FIGHT FOR SOVEREIGNTY 2000 - Present Revival Period: Indigenous Millennials hold the responisbility of retaining cultural values.
American Indian Movement 1968 - Present
PRIME OF PAN-INDIANISM 1940 - 1968
PRESENT 2016 Pan-Indian Movement 1940 - Present During World Wars, new laws, and advancements in technology, Native American tribes resorted to Pan-Indianism to survive from extinction.
American Western â€œHollywoodâ€? Era 1950 - Present The media influenced negative representation with Pan-Indian imagery for sovereign tribes.
APPENDIX B | INTERVIEW: DYLAN IRON SHIRT PLEASE STATE YOUR NAME, TRIBE, AND SOME ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
Hello, my English name is Dylan Shawn Iron Shirt, and my Lakȟóta name is Ógle Kičáğapi (Oh-gl-aye Key-cha-gah-pea). I am from the Cheyenne River, Mnikȟówožu, and Pine Ridge, Oglála, Lakȟóta Sioux bands from South Dakota; and Piikani Blackfeet from Montana. A few of my accomplishments are provided below: 2009, the Oglala Lakota College recognized and honored me as a Certified Lakota Language Speaker. 2010, I was hired by the United States government, Office of Personnel Management, as a “Minority Language Translator” for the Lakota and Dakota Sioux Nations of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Minnesota. 2011, I received a Graduate Fellowship from Harvard University’s Peabody Essex Museum. 2013, I received a Bachelor of Arts in Museum Studies, with a Minor in Business and Entrepreneurship.
WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION AND SPECIALTY?
Currently, I am working for the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Division of Real Estate Services, as a Realty Specialist. My work primarily deals with Native American lands that are held by or are in association with sixteen different Native American tribes and reservations. The total land acreage I work with comprises of over 20 million acres of land, located in the continental United States.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN BEADING?
When I was 11 years old, my grandmother started to teach me how to bead. This was done in order to help teach me patience, which she had hoped I would carry throughout my life.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR BEADING STYLE?
I would describe my beading style as: “Native American,” as “Contemporary”, as “Lakȟóta,” as “Traditional,” as “Human,” as “Nomadic.”
AS A BEADER, WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A GRAPHIC DESIGNER?
To me, a “Graphic Designer” is someone who creates artwork, and produces this art through a platform of technology, software, and computers. Utilizing these platforms, various graphics: designs, patterns, pictures, font, and colors are placed in their own medium, and thus art is created. This question really makes me think. I feel that the application that I apply, into my own creative thought process for forming and conceptualizing my artwork, is much the same application that a Graphic Designer would take. The only obvious thing that would be different is the medium and platform in which I use to create and produce my art. In saying that, I would agree in stating that I am a Graphic Designer.
WOULD YOU AGREE THE BEADED WORK THAT YOU DO IS A REPRESENTATIONAL ARTIFACT?
I agree that the beaded work that I do is in fact a representational form of me. Any beadwork that I do is an extension of myself. In elaboration, I believe that any artwork I produce comes from me, thus I have an attachment to it. I attach my inner-self to every piece I produce. As far as a “cultural” representational artifact, I feel that it would depend upon what artwork I am creating, and to what context I am creating that work for.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON THE DESIGNS YOU USE IN YOUR BEADWORK?
It depends on what I am creating. It depends on the buyer, their tribal affiliation, if any, the audience that will be viewing my artwork (show, exhibition, etc.) whether the piece is for family or for an individual. It depends on a variety of different things that influence what design I will put into my artwork. For example: Let’s say I was going to bead a personal bag for myself. To create a design or style for my personal bag, I would create a design to bead onto the bag.
I personally appreciate a period within my own people’s’ history of art. The artwork being produced during this segment in our history, around the late 1870’s to the early part of the 1920’s, encompasses the utilization of very fine and intricate, symmetrical, and abstract geometrical patterns and designs. It is a style of beadwork that I truly appreciate. I utilize this time of artwork as a base for creating and forming my initial design(s). This may be in contrast to me taking an order by an individual who is requesting beadwork for their pow wow outfit, in that they may want something a little more contemporary in design.
HOW DID YOU LEARN THE MEANINGS BEHIND THE DESIGNS?
My grandmother showed me a set of designs, which are foundations for the concepts of a lot of my people’s traditional geometrical designs. Aside from what was taught to me by her, I have listened and learned a lot from elders that come from different bands of my people. I do not look into books or social media outlets when trying to understand meanings behind designs. To me, the greatest wealth of information comes from specific elders in our communities, and renowned artists, both past and present.
WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT NATIVE AMERICANS WHO DO NOT USE THEIR TRIBAL SYMBOLISM CORRECTLY?
To me, this is an extremely controversial topic. I believe for ALL Native Americans, this should be an extremely controversial inner-conversation that we need to sit down and have, amongst ourselves. To answer the question at hand, very simply, and only speaking for myself, I believe that Native Americans should only utilize their own tribal designs and symbols. And it is up to them to decide what to use and what not to use, after that. I cannot speak for any other tribe or entity besides the ones that I come from. However, as a beader who produces Native American-style beadwork for people from other tribes, I typically get designs from them with as much information about the design or associated elements beforehand. There are several tribes, who I do beadwork for periodically, whom I have strong relationships with specific tribal advisors. These tribal advisors have provided me, at times, a great wealth of knowledge about their people’s designs, of which I have respectfully utilized for project with their people.
On another hand, I will not hesitate to turn-down an order if I cannot verify or do not feel comfortable about creating tribally-specific beadwork.
WHY DO YOU NOT USE “PAN-INDIAN” IMAGERY IN YOUR WORK?
I do not use “Pan-Indian” design in my work, because I feel that my designs express me. They express a conceptualized view of my world in which I see things, and that world is from a Lakȟóta and Piikani (Blackfeet) world-viewpoint. As I have said before, all of my designs are from my own tribal nations. Geometrical: Lakȟóta Floral #1: Dakhóta Floral #2: Piikani Abstract Parfleche artwork: Lakȟóta, Dakhóta, Piikani.
WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE TO CREATE A DESIGN?
Paper Pencils (colored and non) Scissors Hide Brain-tanned Synthetic (commercial) Brain-tanned Commercial hide Parfleche Both Hair-On and Hair-Off hides Furs (both young animals and mature) Otter Badger Skunk Ermine Martin Coyote Wolf Buffalo Elk Deer
Beads (multitude of beads, various size and colors) Antique Modern Japanese Czech Seed Fire-polished Shell Paint Oil-based Acrylic Earth-made (natural) Iron-oxide based Rhinestones Glue Stencils Fabric Metal tacks Metal cones
WHAT TOOLS WOULD YOU LIKE TO USE, OR WOULD LIKE TO INVENT TO CREATE BEADWORK DESIGNS?
I would like to learn how to use and incorporate computer software, to create more complex and vibrant designs.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE NATIVE AMERICANS USING TRADITIONAL SYMBOLISM IN THEIR DESIGN WORK?
I would love to see this, but ONLY if they are using culturally appropriate designs and/or symbolism, in a respectful way.
WHY DO YOU THINK THERE IS A LACK OF TRADITIONAL SYMBOLISM IN MODERN NATIVE AMERICAN DESIGN WORK?
I firmly believe this comes from a lack of respect, a lack of understanding, and a lack of cultural teachings. These are all things that drove and continue to drive us to where we are today. People in the Western-World (the Whiteman’s world) do not have a clue as to what “tribal symbolism,” or “Native American Art,” really is. All they see is fashion trends being pushed out on the floors of Pacific Sun and American Eagle, with imitation “Native American-like” and “Native American-mocked” art forms and designs. There is no rationale for what is being bought, other than it “looks cool” and it is “in for the season.” BOTH of my previous answers to this question exemplify what I feel diminishes the lack of traditional symbolism, within the very fabric our own people (speaking about Native Americans as collective).
HOW IMPORTANT IS DESIGN FOR NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE?
Design is absolutely everything. Design is and always has been a crucial part of our identity, as Native American people. The implementation of design was incorporated into every curvature of our clothing, from the form lines of our women’s dresses to the contour of our children’s moccasins. The creation of tribally specific designs and artwork was and continues to be an identity marker for the hundreds of cultures belonging to the 567 plus nations of the Native American people.
WHAT ERA IN AMERICAN HISTORY DO YOU BELIEVE WAS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT USE OF TRIBAL SYMBOLISM IN NATIVE DESIGN?
Native American artwork created during a hundred year period, from the 1820’s to the 1920’s, was the most culturally significant segment in American History concerning Native American Art. It was during this period, “Indian Antiquities” were collected and taken as booties or trophies from massacres and war. Around the 1850’s, institutions created “Cabinets of Curiosity,” which turned into modern-day museums, which drove the need and desire for museums to start “collecting” the vast majority of Native American goods and artwork. Because of this drive for collecting and preserving Native American artwork began during this time period, the most extensive collecting of Native American artwork and design patterns can be seen from our people during this period. A vast majority of Native American designs and artwork created and collected during this time period are still maintained as being current and “traditional” heritage artworks that many Native nations continue to utilize as a platform for creating contemporary Native Art.
WHEN DO YOU BELIEVE TRADITIONAL SYMBOLISM STARTED TO GET LOST IN NATIVE DESIGN?
The 1950’s had a devastating impact on American Society, as a whole. It was during this time period that American Western movies were at their peak. A large majority of these movies portrayed “Plains-style” or “Sioux-style” dressed non-Native actors posing as Native Americans, attired with faux-feathered war bonnets, breastplates and face paint. In doing so, a racial makeup of the Native American ethnicity had developed, and yet another radical racial stereotype had once again been created in the hearts and minds of the American people. These American Western movies continue today to assist in efforts to promote an overall racial stereotype of Native people by a predominately white, non-Native audience. Even today, Native people in America are constantly fighting corporations, NFL football teams, high school mascots, celebrities, Halloween costume designers, fashion designers, singers, movie actors, producers and directors, politicians, state and county government officials, the American news media, and Capitol Hill that racial stereotyping and mockery is not okay with the Native American people. We have to constantly remind the American people that Native Americans are a racial and ethnic
group that consists of a population of over 1.9 million people, from 567 federally recognized individual sovereign nations. These nations stem from hundreds of different and unique cultures and languages that should not to be stereotyped and made fun of. Providing some background for my response. It was this impact that American Western movies had on the American people that have and CONTINUE to influence fashion producers to produce and replicate “tribal,” “Indian,” and “Native” designs. At the same time, a “Pan-Indian” movement of “Plains-style” or “Sioux-style” beadwork and design work appropriation has taken stake, and we even see this in the Native American community, as well. This has had a profound effect on tribal identity. In this modern-age, social media, and much of what is seen on television and in shopping malls have a profound effect on ALL members of American society, especially Native Americans. This raises questions as to “who owns” the designs? Who values and respects what is being mass-produced by these large corporations? How does this affect Google? How will our Native people, from 567 nations, all from unique cultures, who have a incomprehensible tribal identity associated with design and artwork- be affected? Native people, watch and very much take part in social media, like the rest of America. And in taking part of this freedom, I feel that many of our people can become subject to being just as ignorant as the ones producing fashion trends and large market items sold at Walmart and shopping centers. This is a violation of tribal tradition and thought. Our people can and have become subject of the greater American people, and I have seen our own people fall to buying produces that “resemble” our own Native American goods at stores like Target and Pacific Sun. Native design, overall, is a corpse of complexity.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE EFFORT OF REVITALIZING DESIGN WORK HAS INFLUENCED CULTURAL SUSTAINABILITY?
When a tribal nation reclaims their’ own identity by taking back or repatriating their own artwork and design, there cannot be a question as to whether or not that tribe has re-gained cultural patrimony, and any argument as to whether or not they have re-indigenized themselves, individually and communally. This act of revitalization, reclaiming, re-indigenizing, and re-integration of cultural patrimony assist in their efforts of continued tribal-identity and embody cultural sustainability.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF NATIVE DESIGN?
I wish fashion designers and the overall general public would quit trying to appropriate Native people’s culture, designs, and artwork. I would hope that everyone would wake-up and realize that it’s been 500 plus years of treating Native people as lower-class, and “less-than.” In doing so, I would hope that Americans would respect the vibrant and beautiful Native cultures and peoples by resisting themselves to being privileged into thinking they can appropriate Native American culture and art. I hope for my own people, Native American people as a collective, we can continue to carry forward, revive, and revitalize our people’s designs and artwork. It is ours, and it belongs to no one else. In some cases, we need to re-educate ourselves and our community about traditional art forms, motifs and designs that belong into our own communities.
WHY DO YOU THINK TRIBAL COLLEGES DO NOT PROVIDE DEGREES DEVOTED TO NATIVE AMERICAN DESIGN?
I believe there is not enough “correct” and extensive educational material on Native American design work. Educational materials and formal educational practices of applying knowledge curriculum regarding Native design NEEDS to be produced by Native American artists. We are deficient of this material, across the board. There are plenty of non-Native authors and educators out there that have produce plenty of remarkable text and academia about Native American Art and design, however tribal colleges need to teach with educational material that expresses and administers their own voice, from their own people to tell the story.
DO YOU BELIEVE NATIVE DESIGN SHOULD BE TAUGHT AT COLLEGE LEVELS?
This is an extremely complex and diverse question, probably providing 567 different answers. I would say, YES, there does need to be academia focused on providing education to Native people about Native people’s designs. There needs to be a voice from within every single community, that is formally educated to teach and carry-on teachings related to their people’s design work. I believe you can teach about Native American Art, design, the past, the present, the issues that revolve around the creation of it, and how to move forward. Each student should see and understand how each individual and community needs to be respected for their own art. I could go on and on about the exact curriculum that needs to be implemented and taken into consideration with creating college courses on this subject, but I will leave that up to the ones that need to create this. On another hand, I am torn, because I do know and understand that there are 567 federally recognized Native nations in America. Each one of them may have different protocols, teachings and customs about design creation. Thus, we have hundreds of cultures and over 200 languages, which speak to tell tradition. Tradition, which may maintain to keep their members from creating design and art by restricting it within their own community or to certain individuals. Whether you are utilizing your mind or a computer to produce designs, motifs, logos, abstract concepts, patterns, colors, context, application, or justification, you are utilizing a graphical context for creating artwork.
APPENDIX C | LAKOTA SHAPE KIT MATERIALS
APPENDIX D | OÚŊČHAǦE ARTIFACTS
WORK CITED Davis, Meredith. Graphic Design Theory. London: Thames & Hudson, 2012. Print. Dixon, Roland Burrage. “Basketry Designs of the Indians of Northern California.” 1902. Print. Drucker, Johanna, and Emily McVarish. Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Print. Hall, Sean. This Means This, This Means That: A User’s Guide to Semiotics. London: L. King Pub., 2007. Print. Hall, Stuart. Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London: Sage in Association with the Open U. 1997. Print. Iron Shirt, Dylan. ”Lakota Design.” Interview. 12 Nov. 2015. Karol, Joseph S., Stephen L. Rozman, and Christine Dunham. Everyday Lakota: An English-Sioux Dictionary for Beginners. St. Francis, SD: Rosebud Educational Society. 1974. Print. Leeds-Hurwitz, Wendy. Semiotics and Communication: Signs, Codes, Cultures. Hillsdale, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum Associates. 1993. Print. Luis, Lauren. “Pan…: Pan-Indianism“. 2016. PowerPoint presentation. Lyford, Carrie A., and Willard W. Beatty. Quill and Beadwork of the Western Sioux. Lawrence, KS: Printing Dept., Haskell Institute. 1940. Print. Lynch, Señora. “The Gift”. Public Space. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 2004.
Mace, Dakota. “De-Enrollment.” Woven Juxtaposition. MFA Exhibition: University of Wisconsin. 2016. Malamed, Connie. Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics That People Understand. Beverly, MA: Rockport. 2009. Print. “MoMA Art Lab on the App Store.” App Store. 2016. Web. <http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/moma-art-lab/id529886963>. “Polynesian Tattoo App for IPhone on the App Store.” App Store. 2016. Web. <http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/polynesian-tattoo-app-for/id803523892>. Reyhner, Jon. “1819-2013: A History of American Indian Education.” Education Week. 2013. Web. <http://www.edweek.org/ew/projects/2013/native-american-education/history-of-american indian-education.html>. Saffer, Dan. Designing for Interaction: Creating Innovative Applications and Devices. 2010. Print. Saint-Martin, Fernande. Semiotics of Visual Language. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1990. Print. Stiny, George. Shape: Talking about Seeing and Doing. Cambridge, MA: MIT. 2006. Print. Thibault, Paul J. Re-reading Saussure: The Dynamics of Signs in Social Life. London: Routledge. 1997. Print. “Tribal Sovereignty.” The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. 2016. Web. <http://www.civilrights.org/indigenous/tribal-sovereignty/>. Vignelli, Massimo. The Vignelli Canon. Baden: Lars Müller, 2010. Print.
OYÁTE KIŊ WAČHÍŊNIYAŊPI | They are depending on you.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS DENISE GONZALES CRISP I feel you provided me enough attention to help me succeed in my graduate journey. Your “I want to know how you interpreted the assignment” has been the most influential encouragement when tackling school work. We reciprocate culturally, personally, and professionally, and it has made my NCSU experience comfortable.
HELEN ARMSTRONG I am glad to have had the opportunity to know you in a short amount of time. I admire your work, humbleness, and smile. I cannot wait to hear of the things you will bring to the College of Design in the future.
KERMIT BAILEY I truly appreciate your interest in my culture and research. I believe you did a great job making sure that I made sense to those outside of my world. Your questions really directed my investigation.
DAKOTA MACE I am thankful for someone who shares the same passion for visual sovereignty in Native American culture. I am glad to share the higher education journey as you. I hope we can collaborate more in the future.
DYLAN IRON SHIRT You are an inspiration to me as an advocate and educator for the Lakȟóta community. I have always looked up to you when in doubt of my leadership. I take the knowledge you have and share it with the world. I hope we continue to do excellent things for our people.
Sadie Red Wing's Graphic Design Graduate Thesis @ North Carolina State University, 2016.
Published on Apr 26, 2016
Sadie Red Wing's Graphic Design Graduate Thesis @ North Carolina State University, 2016.