Enrolled Washoe, Yurok
Enrolled Washoe, Yurok
Jackie Fawn (Yurok/Washoe/Filipina) is a graphic illustrator who lives in Akwesasne, Mohawk territory in New York with her husband and 2.5-year-old daughter, who is “the pride and joy” of her life. Her art has been recognized in Indigenous spaces by vivid depictions of warrior women defending the land and people against modern-day colonialism. With the birth of her baby in 2021, Jackie’s recent art has been heavily inspired by parenthood, as it reminds her of the importance of fighting for a brighter future for the next generation. Her art has also begun to enter educational curriculum, environmental organizations, and health campaigns to raise Indigenous resiliency and healing. She is a self-taught artist who has been greatly influenced by creative resistance tactics. Her work has been featured in galleries and museums throughout the U.S., at two galas in California, and on the cover of a published novel. Jackie has an identical twin sister, who is also an artist and owns a tattoo art studio in Washington.
“The sun rises over a boy singing to his mother. She braids his hair with hands that hold secrets and burdens he won’t experience. She wears red to honor murdered and missing Indigenous relatives. He wears orange to honor Native youth taken too soon. The roots of a tree stump, cut in the name of progress, remain. Life grows from the wet wood. A basket of salmonberries sparkles like nourishing salmon eggs. This illustration depicts justice for our ancestors, as we are still here, honoring our roots so the next generation won’t have to make the difficult strides we do as parents and relatives.” ―Jackie Fawn
What does the idea of “justice for Native communities” mean to you?
Land back and equity come to my mind when I consider justice for Native communities. I want to live in my tribal homelands, but there are few options for tribal housing except to get on the waiting list. Every off-rez Native should have a place to come home to on their own ancestral lands. I also dream of Natives being financially sound in places where work isn’t stable, or pay isn’t equitable. As a Native, it’s hard enough to learn our own traditions and maintain our culture in a capitalistic society. But on top of that, we also must try to heal from generational trauma.
What do you think needs to happen in the world to achieve justice for Native communities?
Now that I’m a mom, I see that Native youth deserve the most justice. There is so much generational trauma that me and my partner are trying to break so our daughter can come into her power sooner than we had a chance to because we had to overcome so many things we shouldn’t have had to. For the next generation of parents, the best way we can give justice back is to break that cycle for our kids. We still have a long road ahead, as every day is a struggle to be Native. But the strength and love that we put into making safe spaces for our family and community make this journey beautiful and empowering.
How do you express justice through your artwork?
Art has been my longest relationship and one that I hold in high regard. It has carried me through life and guided me into creative resistance, which is about how art is going to save the world. Art should always be at the forefront in movement work, where artists create banners, campaign messaging, stickers, t-shirts, social media, and other artistic forms of resistance messaging. I do a lot of campaign illustrations. In fact, my poster art is what I am known for, like the one featured in this project’s gallery.
Is there anything else you would like to share about Native justice and your artwork?
I was awarded NDN Collective’s 2021 Radical Imagination Grant, which helped open the doors to my art studio, Fishbear Studios. I am currently working on a free, downloadable coloring book for Native youth called “Colors of the Land” to help educate Native youth on Indigenous resistance and social issues, like Standing Rock and the Fairy Creek blockade. The second phase of my coloring book project involves cultural healing, suicide prevention, and sobriety. I want Native youth to know that they are not alone in their struggles.