Bury the Hatchet is artist John Hitchcock’s mixed-media, cross-disciplinary, multisensory installation. Hitchcock combines his interests in printmaking, rock ’n’ roll, and Kiowa and Comanche history into one visual expression that offers a retelling of the narrative of the American frontier. Working from the theme of the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, Bury the Hatchet explores issues of assimilation, acculturation, and indoctrination through oral history and music. Bury the Hatchet develops a shared language to interrogate historic and modern institutions to prompt a redefinition and reimagining of our present reality.
The visual and sound recordings in the exhibition work together to challenge western perspectives of the supremacy of the written word by reinforcing Indigenous views of oral history passed on from generation to generation through storytelling.
Sound recordings include the artist on pedal steel guitar with soundscapes of cello, clarinet, accordion, and guitars by the band The Stolen Sea. In addition, Jason Cutnose (Kiowa, 1967–2015) narrates a story about the Cutthroat Gap massacre in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma, artist Juanita Pahdopony (Comanche) records a Comanche prayer, Hitchcock’s grandfather Saukwaukee John Dussome Reid (Kiowa, 1912–1996) tells a story of the old days on the Southern Plains, and soprano Catlin Mead sings an operatic reinterpretation of Cutnose’s stories. Finally, Intertribal War Dance Songs, recorded in 1978 on the Johnny Reid (Kiowa) and Peggy Reid (Comanche) Dance Ground, make up the soundscape. Video images include war dancers in Medicine Park, Oklahoma, and buffalo images recorded in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge by Emily Arthur.
The exhibition has an accompanying limited-edition 12-inch vinyl album, CD, and set of letterpress prints available at Sunday Night records: sundaynightrecords.com.
Organized by Missoula Art Museum and curated by John Calsbeek, Associate Curator, and Brandon Reintjes, Senior Curator. Organized in Portland by Kathleen Ash-Milby, Curator of Native American Art.