Making a Puncture
In 2009, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (b. 1954, Wichita, Kansas), a
contemporary artist and enrolled citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho
Tribes of Oklahoma, installed a temporary public artwork titled Beyond
the Chief on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign. Heap
of Birds’s artwork comprised a series of twelve commercially printed steel
panels, each eighteen by thirty- six inches, deployed around the campus
and looking very much like official signage posted by the university’s ad-
ministration. Beyond the Chief was based on Heap of Birds’s signature series
of public installations, Native Hosts (begun 1988), which name the dis-
placed indigenous nations that once enjoyed sovereign ownership of the
lands now claimed by settler nations such as the United States and Canada.
Beyond the Chief greeted visitors to the campus:
“fighting illini”
(in
backward type)
“today your host is”
followed by the name of a tribe
with traditional territories in Illinois, including Peoria, Kickapoo, Myaami,
Meskwaki, Kaskaskia, Potawatomi, and six others. Today there are no fed-
erally recognized Indian tribes residing in Illinois; nations listed on the
panels in Beyond the Chief had been relocated to Indian Territory present-
day Oklahoma and other far- flung places in the nineteenth century.
INTRODUCTION
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