Harvard Gazette: Art and the history of indigenous America - Shawon Kinew's First Year Seminar Featured

November 12, 2019

A first-year seminar by Assistant Professor Shawon Kinew has been the focus of a feature in the Havard Gazette.

The seminar focuses on the 19th century oil portraits of 25 Native leaders captured in an era of forced relocation. The course titled “The First Americans: Portraits of Indigenous Diplomacy and Power” asks questions relating to "the interplay of art, identity, and representation," providing the students a chance to have “a conversation with the past.”


“The takeaway is that the past still needs to be interpreted in many ways,” said Kinew, an art historian who received her Ph.D. from Harvard in 2016. “But also, that the people who are represented in these paintings didn’t become extinct. Their descendants are still here, and their nations are still here. Their languages are still spoken; the things they’re wearing are still worn and used in ceremony today. There’s something very powerful about the paintings and the sitters because they transcend what was once described as a moribund history.”

The full article is available to read on the Harvard Gazette Website.

Emerald Mae GoingSnake (left) and four fellow students examine oil portraits of Native American leaders painted in the early 1800s.