Flags of Our Fathers June 08, 2015 22:17

"Flags Of Our Fathers" is my newest painting. The concept of this painting kept turning in my mind over the past few years. I was thinking about the American flag from a Native American perspective. "How do they view it?", I asked myself. In light of "European conquest", small pox, the many removals and the broken treaties, what does a Navajo elder, a Seminole youth, an Iroquois mother think about when they see "Old Glory" rippling in the winter wind? Then I started thinking about Native American flags and their history. Created with eloquent design and deep symbolism, these I thought are the truer flags of this land. It's hard to believe that up until the beginning of World War II  Navajo children in the Southwest were taken from their homes and put in mission schools where they were taught to dress, act and speak like white children. If that wasn't bad enough they were reprimanded and punished for speaking their Navajo language. Then came the war effort and the recruiting of young Americans. The Navajo were eager to sign up to defend their ancient homeland. Soon the Navajo Marines created a code based on their language and the rest is history. In my book it is one of the most painful ironies that we bear as a country... that the same language that the young Navajo children were prohibited to use was the very same language that became the deciding factor in America winning World War II (my painting "Visions of Valor" depicts this story). 
 
I know that this painting asks more questions then it answers but it is my hope that when people look upon this image that they feel the pride, strength, sadness and "sense of knowing" flickering in this elders face... the American flag with all it's wounds wrapped around his shoulders... and the backdrop of the flags of the original nations anchoring this noble Northern Cheyenne patriarch. 
What do you think about when you see an American flag?