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Trade (Gifts for Trading Land With White People)

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
American (b. 1940)
Trade (Gifts for Trading Land With White People), 1992
Oil and mixed media on canvas

Columbus Day, 1992, was the 500th anniversary of the explorer's arrival in North America.  Determined to challenge this traditional celebration of the European "discovery" of North America and the consequent "benefits" of white civilization, American Indian artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith conceived a group of paintings she called "The Quincentenary Non-Celebration."  Smith's series, which includes the Chrysler's monumental Trade, was quickly acclaimed as a masterstroke of Native American protest and revisionist cultural history.

Smith's collage of newspaper clippings, images from the history of Indian conquest, and old photographs appear alongside the prosaic, sometimes bleak facts of daily life on reservations.  An array of cheap toys, souvenirs, and sports memorabilia speaks to the commodification of Native American identity within popular culture. The painting ironically offers these objects to white people in exchange for the return of stolen lands.