The True “Early Days”: Native Americans Share Their History Through Art


(Image via ABC7 News)

While the “Early Days” statue was removed in 2018, the hole in the ground has left more than just a physical space — it’s left an opening for the true history of the Native American experience in the Bay Area to be shared by those who should have been the only ones to tell their story in the first place: Native Americans.

To draw attention to the true history, mark the 50th year anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz, and emphasize accurate artistic representation of Native Americans, the San Francisco Arts Commission has developed the American Indian Initiative, which will consist of various art installations, films, festivals and talks over the course of 2019, the first of which occurred in early April in preparation for public events.

Over two days, SFAC notes, “renowned photographer, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (Seminole-Muscogee-Navajo) photograph[ed] approximately 150 Native American community members in curated groupings of 3-5 individuals consisting of Native American leaders, professionals, and youth on top of the empty plinth where the Early Days statue stood for over one hundred years.” (ABC7 News filmed the photoshoot, and you can see more from that day on their site.)

Later this year, these images will be projected onto various Civic Center buildings during the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration and at other locations during the seven weeks of artistic activation by Native American artists following  Indigenous Peoples’ Day at the Fulton Mall/plinth. We’ll be sure to share more on these events as they draw closer.

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