Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology

Exhibit Opening Review: Drone Warriors and "Sacred is Sacred"


On Friday, May 11th 2018, the Museum opened two new exhibitions: Drone Warriors: The Art of Surveillance and Resistance at Standing Rock and "Sacred is Sacred": The Art of Protecting Bears Ears. The reception was attended by artists, students, curators, activists, and an engaged audience from Brown and the local community. 

The event was emotional and inspiring, with blessings offered by Narragansett/Niantic elder Dawn Dove, and Diné artist Denae Shanidiin, whose work is featured in the Sacred is Sacred exhibit. Hunkpapa Lakota scholar Jennifer Weston (University of Massachusetts, Boston) highlighted the voices of the youth activists and elders at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. She also presented gifts of gratitude to drone pilot Dean Dedman and Drone Warriors curators Adrienne Keene and Gregory Hitch. Curators Adrienne Keene, Gregory Hitch, and “Sacred is Sacred” curator Isabella Robbins, each also shared their experiences and their appreciation for the artists and activists who made these exhibits possible. “These places, and the people who protect them are so important,” shared curator Isabella Robbins during the event. “I’m very grateful that this is the community I come from. We’re working very hard and there’s so few of us but we are everywhere… not just in what is now known as the United States but all over the world.”

Drone Warriors: The Art of Surveillance and Resistance features the drone photography and video produced by Water Protectors during the recent movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock in North Dakota. Combining interests in Native representations, activism, resistance, environmental movements, and sous-surveillance, Drone Warriors shows the Brown and Providence community a new perspective—quite literally—of the #NoDAPL movement. This exhibit was curated by Adrienne Keene, Haffenreffer Museum Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies, and Gregory Hitch, American Studies doctoral student. 

“Sacred is Sacred”: The Art of Protecting Bears Ears examines the many stories of Bears Ears, a contested sacred landscape in Southern Utah. Rich in oil and gas, Bears Ears is a sacred place for indigenous peoples. This exhibition uses art to convey the beauty of the land, the ways in which Indigenous peoples have come together to start a movement, the roles women and youth, and how people are learning and healing through their fight to protect this land. This exhibit was curated by Isabella S. Robbins, Master’s Candidate in Public Humanities, and was made possible by generous support in the form of a Rudolph F. Haffenreffer 3rd Fellowship, as well as contributions from the people leading the charge, and contemporary Indigenous artists and allies. The Museum is extremely grateful to Torrey House Press, Publishers of “Of Morning Light: Native Voices Speak for the Bears Ears,” edited by Jacqueline Keeler, for allowing us to use a quote from the book by Wayland Gray as the title of this exhibition - “Sacred is Sacred”. 

Closing dates have not been officially set for either exhibit, and you can see them at Manning Hall Gallery during regular Museum hours. Thank you to everyone who participated in this event. “Keep protecting the land and the water and the air,” said Robbins, “because this is our Mother.”