Warrior Woman: “Stop the Silence!!”
Billboard and Awareness Ribbon Project
This work is a national call to action for the federal government to acknowledge the history of Indigenous genocide in Canada and in North America; to legislate this history as mandatory curriculum in Ministry of Education school texts and; to fund memorial sites across Canada (Longman)
Summary: An estimated 100-250 million Indigenous people perished in a 400 year long genocidal war in North America. Colonial strategies of genocide included: slavery, torture, mass murders, scalping proclamations, small pox germ warfare, forced famine and child abuse leading to murder. The North American genocide of Indigenous people is the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world.
Tour Dates and Places: 2017 Tour: Winnipeg – 1524 Broadway Ave W (May 19-June 11) ∙ Calgary – 4088 16 Avenue E (June 26-July 16) ∙ Vancouver – 654 Nelson St. (June 5 – July 2). Sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts.
References: See national and international archives and books, and Stannard, David, 1993. American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World and Bartolomé de las Casas, 1552. Devastation of the Indies.
The concept of Warrior Woman began as a memorial for the artist’s late mother, Lorraine Longman, (Mar. 29, 1949 – Dec. 24, 2012) and then evolved into a larger theme of Indigenous Genocide in North America. Lorraine’s legacy was the earned title of, “the toughest chick in the hood,” a necessary survival strategy in difficult times or racism, poverty, violence, residential schools and child apprehensions (Sixties Scoop). Her story is one of courage, pride and tenacity and therefore her tribute emerged into the transformation of her image into Warrior Woman, the Indigenized version of the American Wonder Woman.
Warrior Woman’s character now fights for justice and transparency of Indigenous Genocide in North America. She becomes the voice for the millions of Indigenous people who were slain by Spanish, British, American colonial armies and settlers who were driven to inhumane acts by their greed of acquiring gold, land and scalping payments.
Warrior woman shouts out, “Stop the Silence!” as the North American mass genocide remains submerged and absent from educational history texts and government discourse. There has not been government acknowledgement, an apology or any memorials. She calls to action a national and international campaign for awareness of Indigenous Genocide by raising the red awareness ribbon.
Overall, this work serves as a long-overdue memorial to all the Indigenous men, women and children who died for the sake of colonial land acquisition. Their spirits will be honored and not forgotten, their story will be told and honored when the public unites in this campaign.
Historical Facts of Colonial Strategies of Indigenous Genocide
Within the first forty years of Colonial contact, (1492 -1532) fifteen million Aboriginals were slaughtered. In the 393 years of open war against Indigenous people, from 1492 to 1888, the estimated deaths culminated to a staggering 100 million, the largest act of genocide known to the world.
Ethnic cleansing strategies included: annihilation of entire villages; Spanish slavery and torture for gold mining; Scalping Proclamations sanctioned by the British and Spanish Governments; germ warfare with small pox infected blankets, sanctioned by British and American governments and; Canadian forced famine strategies that starved Indigenous people into the submission of signing treaties.
Slavery, Torture and Mass Murders: 1492-1532
In the book, Devastation of the Indies (1552), Spanish Dominican priest, Bartolomé de las Casas, (1484–1566) published his forty-year eye witness account of the genocide of Indigenous genocide in the Indies. De las Casas estimated that fifteen million Aboriginals were slaughtered in this time frame by Spanish Conquistadors in the most inhumane methods imaginable. Aboriginals were used as slaves to mine gold and were tortured by dismemberment of limbs or burned alive. Their flesh was fed to their ‘dog soldiers.’
Scalping Proclamations: 1744-1880s
Scalping Proclamations, sanctioned by British and Spanish governments, offered payments to any person who presented Aboriginal scalps. Key people who ordered Scalping Proclamations include: 1744, Massachusetts Governor William Shirley, 1756 Governor Robert Hunter Morris and Governor Charles Lawrence. 1835 and the 1880s, Spanish authorities of Mexico. At this time, settlers murdered Indigenous men, women and children to receive payments.
Germ Warfare: 1763-1837
In Canada, by the orders of Lord Jeffrey Amherst of the British Army in 1763, infected smallpox blankets were sent to Aboriginal settlements in order to bring about “… the total extirpation of those Indian Nations (Amherst In Hume, 2001, p. A21). Also see biological and chemical weapons expert, Jonathan B. Tucker’s book, Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox.
In the United States, Indigenous people were exposed to infected blankets and coats, and then loaded into infected boats. To ensure high numbers died, the War Department reinforced the policy to refuse vaccination for Indigenous people. See also Barbara Alice Mann’s, The Tainted Gift: The Disease Method of Frontier Expansion (2009).
Forced Famine & Treaties: 1867-1888
The first Prime Minister of Canada and Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, from the periods between 1867 -1888, John A. McDonald (1851-1891), had two primary areas of focus; to attain as much land as possible for the British Crown and to move “[t]owards the extinguishment of the Indian Title to the lands.”
This period was the darkest, most tumultuous era in Canadian history, with Aboriginals being forced off of their traditional lands, their ceremonial gatherings and travel were banned, and the people were forced into submission through the strategy of famine, by destroying their main food source, the bison, and letting them starve on meagre food rations. Those that were resistant were imprisoned or hanged.
Religious Propaganda for Genocide – Manifest Destiny: 1812-1870s
The religious/political propaganda of, “Manifest Destiny,’ translated to, the’ obvious fate’ ‘the will of god,’ that this new land belongs to European settlers and therefore genocide was sanctioned by the American government and the courts. Key supporters of forced removal and genocide of Indigenous peoples were: John Marshall (1755 – 1835), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Andrew Jackson (1767 – 1845), President of USA, John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848), President of USA, and Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), President of USA.
Residential Schools: Mid 1700s -1997
Residential schools were first introduced in the United States in the mid-1700s and in Canada, in the 1830s. By 1909, there were 77 Indian residential schools in Canada (Welsh, 2001) and grew to 139 schools. Day schools overlapped residential schools with 700 schools operating between the 1860s to 1990s, Schools were mandatory and children were forcibly taken from their parents and herded like cattle to residential schools, which some equate to prisoner camps. The objective of residential schools was to ‘civilize’ the Native children by indoctrinating them into western ideology and Christian faith, and by prohibiting Indigenous language and culture in the school environment. Missionaries, nuns and priests abused countless children, physically, mentally, and sexually, in addition to the excessive discipline, malnutrition, child labour and neglect of health and medical needs. As a result, thousands of children died and buried in unmarked graves. Based on accounts told by residential school survivors, babies born from priest’s offspring where disposed of in the local the waterways or burned in furnaces. The last residential schools to close in Canada were Kivalliq Hall in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut in 1997 and the Gordons residential school, Saskatchewan in 1996.
Sixties Scoop: 1950s – Today
The term the ‘Sixties Scoop’ refers to the mass apprehension of Indigenous children by government social workers which started in the 1950s. Children were put into foster care or sold to adoption agencies. Numbers of apprehended Indigenous children are in the several thousands and today are still exceedingly high, making up 70% of all children in foster care, even though Indigenous people only make up 3-5% pf the Canadian population. In many ways the Sixties Scoop mirrored the residential schools in its family and cultural dislocation, physical and sexual abuse, poor nutrition and exploitation for labour. Boys were sent to work on farms, girls in urban centers where used for domestic duties and babysitting other foster kids, Both were given additional jobs to bring in more money such as delivering flyers, papers and mowing, shovelling snow or babysitting for other people. Children who grew up in abusive foster homes either died from neglect, committed suicide when they where young or later as adults. Many still suffer from CPTSD today, especially those who were in long term care for their entire childhood.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: 1960s -Today
The 2019 final report, National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) published by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), estimates that there are 4,232 missing and murdered in Canada, based on the collection of names up until 2011, by the Walk 4justice group who supplied data to NWAC. This number far exceeds previous modest estimates of 1200 from the RCMP. An exact number is problematic given that shockingly, there is no national data source for missing persons in Canada. The (NWAC) separate Fact Sheet on MMIWG reviewed 582 cases and stated that 67% were murder cases, 20% were missing and 4% were suspicious deaths and 9% unknown. Provinces with the highest numbers of Indigenous femicide rates are British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Notable cases in British Columbia include the 19 women killed in the Highway of Tears murders, (Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, British Columbia) and the 49 women from the Vancouver area’s east side murdered by serial killer Robert Pickton. The Forensic Report for the NMIWG Report, only examined 174 police files across Canada, excluding Quebec. The height of missing and murdered women and girls occurred between 2001 to present day. The majority of victims are within the ages of 21-40.