Art

The American Dream

We were never taught that in order for this land to have become what it is, many people died in the process.

Story and photos by Gianna Leo Falcone - gleofalcon@gmail.com
Photo © Gianna Leo Falcon

Photo © Gianna Leo Falcon

“Tribal customs dictated hospitality to visitors. The Native Americans never anticipated that the white men would steal their lands and their liberty. When they learned their mistake, they fought fiercely. However, the Europeans were bound to triumph in the struggle. Bows and arrows were of little use against European guns. In addition, the Native Americans had never been exposed to diseases such as smallpox, and therefore had no immunity to them. The germs traveled westward with the explorers, and American Indians sickened and died by the thousands. Some historians estimate that about 85 percent of the North American population died between 1500 and 1550, as a direct result of the European conquest.” – McGraw Hill text book.

The “American Dream” is, and I am just pulling this from memories and opinions, a place where people can come to live a life of freedom, free from government tyranny and violence, that all people here are treated equally, that if you get an education or work really hard you can be anything you want, you can become President! It is the land of opportunity… Right?

Photo © Gianna Leo Falcon

Photo © Gianna Leo Falcon

We were never taught that in order for this land to have become what it is, many people died in the process. That this land here and its surrounding islands, all conquered by different European factions, was, in fact, land that was already inhabited by peoples that had successfully lived for thousands of years prior, with their own societies and forms of culture… (We are briefly taught that African Americans were treated badly and that slavery was wrong, etc. And this only happened after the civil rights movement in the sixties) Up until then it was not spoken about in that way…

Died is kind of a nice way of saying genocidally murdered… And systematically wiped out, not only in physical numbers, but in cultural and spiritual practices as well…

Photo © Gianna Leo Falcon

Photo © Gianna Leo Falcon

Example: Puerto Ricans were Taino and Borinquen indian tribes, THEY DID NOT SPEAK SPANISH and Christianity was not their spiritual path… Same goes for the Dominican Republic, also conquered by the Spaniards, Haiti, which was conquered by the French, and Jamaica by the British, etc. All the Latin American countries that now speak Spanish as their native language and practice Christian or Catholic religions were conquered and their cultures wiped out.

This “American Dream” is most often celebrated around Thanksgiving: a time where we come together as families and people, putting our differences to the side and sharing a meal together (Like the Native Americans and pilgrims did, right?). Being thankful for what we have and completely ignoring that this weird holiday of, honestly really about over indulgence and retarded American ways, was born out of the genocide of indigenous people all over America, the Caribbean islands and, well, all over the world…

Photo © Gianna Leo Falcon

Photo © Gianna Leo Falcon

So this piece is kind of a safe, and rather cheap, way for me to paint, maybe, a different picture. My use of shadows aims to illustrate the violence that took place in the making of this here free land, and the subjects are all of indigenous descent whether it be Native American, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Central American etc. The many faces of a lost story not only to us but to them…

The saddest part is, I think many people aren’t even aware of what happened, and you know what? Maybe it wouldn’t even matter if the world we lived in wasn’t still exploiting these people to the extent that they are, but that is, unfortunately, not the case.

Photo © Gianna Leo Falcon

Photo © Gianna Leo Falcon

2 Responses to “The American Dream”

  1. Marie Leo says:

    This was very well written and truly sends a message. The photos were extraordinary! Thank you Gianna for continuing to raisee our consciousness on behalf of the native american people….

  2. Evelyn Orton says:

    Well done, Gianna!