By Ally Tobler
When you step foot onto University of Maryland’s campus, you’re standing on the land of the Piscataway, a Native American tribe that inhabited the Chesapeake Bay region.
On Feb. 14 in Stamp’s Grand Ballroom, 20 seniors in the American Indian Student Union (AISU) and in UMD’s graphic design program debuted their pop-up exhibit, titled The Nations of Resilience: Standing Up, Standing Proud and Standing Strong.
“One of the things that AISU really wants is for the university to acknowledge that we are on Piscataway land and that’s something we really tried to focus on,” senior art and marketing major Alla Bliskovsky, one of the exhibit’s co-creative directors, said.AISU strives to heighten students’ awareness of American Indian culture and the Piscataway land this university is built upon, according to its website.
The one-day exhibit featured a variety of informative and interactive displays delineating Native American daily life, culture and hardship.
“The whole goal of it is to highlight just a few of the issues that Native Americans have today, but also celebrate their culture,” said senior studio art major Esther Lee, co-creative director of the exhibit. “They don’t get enough recognition.”
A large cut-out of the United States, suspended in the air and trimmed with strings of wooden beads, stood at the center of the room.
[[The beads “represent[ed] all the federally recognized tribes,” Bliskovsky said.
An interactive piece at the exhibit asked attendees to take a red, yellow or green piece of string — which symbolized their ranges of interest, from ‘not interested’ to ‘interested’ — and connect it to Native American topics and issues like colonization, disappearance of women and incarceration rates.
The pop-up also included a informative panels, including one about #NoDAPL — a movement protesting destruction of Native American land — and another, about a new pipeline approved by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan that will cross through Native American land and the Potomac River.
“One thing we really wanted to drive home was that indigenous are just regular people,” Lee said. “They’re still here.”