Removal, Resilience, Return

Eleanor Lim-Midyett, Ph.D.  |  Assistant Professor
Kansas City Art Institute

Daniel Wildcat  |  Indigenous and American Indian Studies Faculty
Haskell Indian Nations University

Advisory Partners Eleanor Lim-Midyett and Daniel Wildcat’s group presents a series of works that explore and reflect the relationship between the cultures of Indigenous Peoples and the rich and diverse landscape of Missouri. Illustrating the three-part theme of Removal, Resilience, Return, these works of art acknowledge the identity of the first Native Peoples to inhabit Missouri before their displacement by settlers and statehood. They examine past and collective narratives that convey a range of examples of forced migration and displacement and impart stories of resistance. And they embody forward-looking concepts of “return” by exploring ideas of recovery, reparations, and reconsideration of restoring Indigenous Peoples’ political and economic control over their land.

Choosing works to reflect this theme presented a considerable challenge for this Advisory Partner group as they note the lack of works by Native American/Indigenous artists in Kemper Museum’s Permanent Collection. This absence “speaks” most directly to the place of Indigenous Peoples or First Peoples of Missouri in the state’s bicentennial celebration and the larger United States history. Former Indigenous denizens of Missouri are all too often considered gone and consequently, forgotten. The scarcity of Native artists’ expressions of their complex relationships with places they once called home is a systemic issue that merits urgent discussion and action in the context of the art world.

Eleanor Lim-Midyett on Removal, Resilience, Return

Alvin Eli Amason (Native American, born 1948), So Tall (1990)

The nearly life size bear depicted in Alvin Eli Amason’s So Tall (1990) highlights the theme presented by this group: removal, acknowledging six of the eight bear species considered vulnerable or endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature; resilience to recognize that while many are at risk they continue to adapt to their surroundings; and return as bears remain a vital part of the ecosystem.


Alvin Eli Amason, (Native American (Sugpiaq/Alutiiq Alaskan), born 1948), So Tall, 1990, oil on canvas, 96 x 40 inches. Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection, Gift of the R. C. Kemper Charitable Trust, 1995.002.01. © Alvin Eli Amason. Photo: E. G. Schempf, 2020.