Skip to Main Content

Kupferberg Holocaust Center Exhibition: Native American Survivance: Introduction to this LibGuide

How the Exhibition Enhances This Library Guide

Between 2019 and 2020, the Kupferberg Holocaust Center hosted the exhibition entitled Survivance & Sovereignty on Turtle Island. This exhibition addresses the histories and the present-day realities of the first people of this continent through contemporary art. Turtle Island is the name given to North America by some of the Indigenous people of this region—the Anishinabek, the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), and the Lenni-Lenape (Delaware).  

Survivance and Sovereignty features the work of 16 artists of Indigenous descent, who are from some of the more than 1,200 sovereign tribal nations in the United States and Canada, each with the authority to self-govern. Throughout this Library Guide, images of artwork from the exhibition are featured in order to provide a deeper understanding of the topics covered. The artists address survivance: a term that emphasizes both cultural survival and resistance in the face of hundreds of years of genocide and mass atrocities. 

By using art to communicate the impact that genocide has upon Indigenous people on Turtle Island–as well as its connections to the Holocaust—we can understand that these egregious crimes of attempted erasure are not outliers but part of a continuing battle.  Indigenous people are still here despite hundreds of years of genocide and mass atrocities, including germ warfare, compulsory relocations, internment, forced sterilization, family separation, and lack of religious freedom.

The artwork is not only a conduit for conversation but also focuses on several themes prevalent to better understand the Native experience in the Americas.  Click on the above tabs to learn more about these compelling, complicated issues.

How to Utilize This LibGuide 

This LibGuide provides resources for anyone wanting to learn more about some of the complex issues pertaining to Indigenous history, culture, and identity in the United States and Canada. The topics covered are nuanced and complicated. The LibGuide offers a wonderful starting point for anyone hoping to begin to better understand the lives of those who originally called this land their home.

Mario Martinez (Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona)
Brooklynscape #3, 2009–2016

Land Acknowledgement 

The Kupferburg Holocaust Center is situated on the traditional land of the Matinecock people, in proximity to the Lenape and Shinnecock people, who continue to live here today.  We offer gratitude and respect to all of the indigenous people of Turtle Island, past, present, and future.

The above passage is a land acknowledgement. This is a statement recognizing that the land we all occupy in the course of our daily lives—including our schools, jobs, parks, and homes, as well as the names of towns and roads—was first inhabited by another group of people who were forcibly expelled and murdered. 

Today we identify those crimes for what they are: mass atrocities and genocide. These horrors continue to have devastating political, social, economic, psychological, and environmental impacts upon and within Native American and Indigenous communities.  

 What is Survivance?

“Many people assume that genocide no longer occurs or that it could never happen again. But, as survivors, Native people have to be involved in, and actively engaged in, remembrance and resisting so that we are not erased.  This is survivance.”

 - Co-Curator, Danyelle Means (Oglala Lakota)

The term, Survivance was first employed in the context of Native American Studies by the Anishinaabe cultural theorist Gerald Vizenor in his book Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance. There he explains that "Survivance is an active sense of presence, the continuance of native stories, not a mere reaction, or a survivable name. Native survivance stories are renunciations of dominance, tragedy and victimry". Simply, survivance is survival + resistance


RYAN! Elizabeth Feddersen (Confederated Tribes of the Colville {Okanagan / Arrow Lakes / German / English})
Unveiling the Romantic West, 2015

What is Sovereignty?

Learn More About the Exhibition

Artwork from the Exhibition

Dennis RedMoon Darkeem (Wind Clan / Creek Seminole)

Star is Here, 2019

Nadema Agard (Cherokee / Lakota / Powhatan)

Wampum Moons of Change, An installation, 2009

Renelle White Buffalo (Lakota)

Uphill, 2018

Shan Goshorn (Eastern Band Cherokee)

Prayers for the Land, 2015