Home Is Where You Lay Your Head: Stories of Identity and Homeland is a community engagement project based around storytelling, conversation and healing.
This project started in 2016 is part of an existing, exploratory, project titled Learning How to Fly. It is dedicated to my mother, Helen Marie Jacobs, a member of the Lumbee Nation of North Carolina–the largest Native American tribe East of the Mississippi not federally recognized by the U.S. government. The Lumbee Nation has fought for recognition for more than 125 years.
My mom died on April 7th 2000. She took with her, her history, her stories, and her understandings of an Indigenous woman coming of age in the Jim Crow South.
I will provide an intimate space (a temporary shelter, a home away from home) to share my experiences around identity and home from the perspective of a mixed-race Native American woman. A woman who is coming to terms with her relationship to her people and her understanding of them, while healing the past and forging her new identity for the future. This shelter, inspired by my time at Standing Rock living in a tent at the camps, also parallels and references the refugee and migrant crises happening all over the world in present-day.
My focus is on indigenous people denied identity, civic rights, land, traditional culture preservation, language, and opportunity from a hegemonic oppressor.
Through photographs taken over a span of seven years, my conversation will include the B’doul Tribe of Petra, Jordan who were forced to abandon their semi-nomadic life for the nearby settlement of Umm Sayhoun. Social interrogations also commented on are the Palestinian struggle for statehood, the impact of neo-colonialism on Greenlandic culture and identity post-establishment of Home Rule, and the historic gathering of tribes and allies at Standing Rock, North Dakota to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline. Lastly, I will touch upon my people, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and their fight for recognition by the U.S. Government.
This dialogue through photographic images with visitors will be an exercise in self-expression, which will strengthen and empower my voice. It is my aim that such gesture will engage others to share their own stories around home and identity. It will also provide an opportunity to inspire new work based around these exchanges and topics.
Home Is Where You Lay Your Head: Stories of Identity and Homeland is part of Reroot, an exhibition at Smack Mellon in Dumbo opening in November. My performances will take place December 3rd and 10th from 1-3 PM.