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Every Step I Take is Red

Madyson Arscott writes, "You cannot shake a hand with a clenched fist, but you can start a revolution with one."

Painting of a Native American woman walking away from graffiti on a brick wall that reads "Colonizers back off"
Art by Madyson Arscott.

Aniin, my name is Madyson Arscott, I am Ojibwe, Marten clan, I am 16 years old and I created this piece. For all my life I was a shy kid, somebody who couldn't find anybody they had anything in common with, which is why I turned to art. It was a way for me to tell my stories, share my experiences and share how I navigated the world without worrying and delving into judgement. This piece is called "Colonizers Back Off." It is an homage to the feelings experienced by every Indigenous person who has ever felt as if they shouldn't be allowed to take up space. This piece features a woman with beaded earrings and a ribbon skirt, leaving behind a message on the wall, written in red in all large letters, "COLONIZERS BACK OFF." one of my art teachers in grade school told me that my art featured too many people, and that if I wanted to keep that style I'd have to work on facial expressions,but I made a point to keep her face blank. I wanted to give the emotion felt by so many of us when we are navigating a space, a world and an environment which tells us it'd be better off without us: NUMBNESS. This piece is for every moment I've sat in the mall, people watching and wondering how many people are aware of all the missing children... This piece is for every time I've broken down in a restaurant when thoughts and images of poverty and famine crossed my mind... This piece is for my mother, who led the way for me when I was terrified to leave our home. The words are written in red to represent blood, to represent all the sacrifices made in order to fight for the liberation of our people. The red is used to represent VISION. We as Indigenous people occupy all of past, present and future. With every step we take there is centuries worth of ancestral knowledge and resiliency flowing through our veins. This piece is to convey anger, or much rather to convey that indescribable feeling when it feels as if the world around you is collapsing before your eyes and with every breath you take, you seem to get a little bit more lonesome. You cannot shake a hand with a clenched fist, but you can start a revolution with one.


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