Rooted in Native Knowledge

Rooted in Native Knowledge
Joel Garcia

Indoor mural by artist Joel Garcia set within the Cal Poly Native American and Indigenous Cultural Center, 172H - yakʔitʸutʸu. 14ft x 8 ft., 2021

The mural centers a red-tailed hawk — a relative to Indigenous Peoples and a symbol of hope for reciprocal relationships with the natural world. Red-tailed hawks embody protection, well-being, and the power to envision. The red-tailed hawk in this mural carries "Native Knowledge," a representation of intergenerational transmission of Native ways of knowing, living, and learning. The Native knowledge depicted here rests upon the collective and cultural methods of disseminating knowledge that Indigenous Peoples have used since time immemorial. These forms of knowledge cut against the grain of Western knowledge because they are formed in community and in relation with the land, sky, plants, animals, and birds. The color scheme utilizes blue and green as depictions of sky, water and land respectively. The red, orange, and yellow arc portrays the colors emitted by fire or the sun — life forces. The skyscape behind the red-tailed hawk renders star relatives present where ancestors continue to hold up the next generations ensuring Native youth and their ancestral forms of knowledge are the future.

Artist Joel Garcia (Huichol) is an Indigenous artist and cultural organizer that uses Indigenous-based frameworks to center those most impacted, and arts-based strategies such as printmaking, installations, creative action, and altar-making to raise awareness of issues facing underserved communities, youth, and other targeted populations. In various roles, he has worked with Indigenous communities across borders in support of issues of land, access and self-determination. His work explores healing and reconciliation, as well as memory and place. He’s the co-founder of Meztli Projects, an Indigenous based arts & culture collaborative centering indigeneity into the creative practice of Los Angeles. Joel’s work centers his personal lived experience and uses it to bridge understanding between communities while also deconstructing how we understand race, indigeneity, class and other forms of identity for the purpose supporting those most impacted.

Making of video:

Acrylic and aerosol
Office of University Diversity and Inclusion
Object Identifier (Accession #):
© Joel Garcia, reproduced with permission from the artist. The images associated with the objects on this website are protected under United States copyright laws. We are pleased to share these materials as an educational resource for the public for non-commercial, educational and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by law. Photo: Jett Witlin/Kennedy Library

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