The Santa Fe Reporter from Santa Fe, New Mexico on April 14, 1993 · Page 26
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The Santa Fe Reporter from Santa Fe, New Mexico · Page 26

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Issue Date:
Wednesday, April 14, 1993
Page 26
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Continued from Page 14 disappointment that authorities were unable to gain a conviction — or to answer some of the lingering questions in the case. Several people suggested that big changes are necessary before the public can regain confidence in local law enforcement. Behind the counter at Dunkin' Donuts on St. Francis Drive, a young waitress peeked at a customer's newspaper and went into mild hysterics. "No way! Not guilty? No way!" she exclaimed and darted toward the other end of the counter. She paced from one end of the store to the next, still saying a few minutes later, "No way. No way." Sipping a cup of coffee as he spoke, 33-year-old Gilbert Martinez criticized the police. "It's going to raise a lot of questions about how the police go about getting their facts straight," he said. A man nearby nodded in agreement. "They have a tendency to protect each other," Martinez said. "I believe there was a conspiracy." Monday's verdict was a hot topic during most of the rush- hour at the counter. Almost everyone expressed surprise, and most said they had gut feelings that Martinez was guilty. "I don't understand," said one man who asked that his name not be used. "ISiot guilty on all counts? God! [Kiartinez] has got a lot of people mad. If he's smart, he'll leave town." However, even some of the people who thought Martinez was guilty said the evidence left too many questions for a jury to be sure. - At the post office downtown, construction worker Meg Huston, 35, said she was "outraged" at the jury's decision. "I don't feel safe" with Mar* tinez back on the streets, Huston said. . - "I think everybody could have done a better job," she said, referring to both investigators and prosecutors. "This case wasn't important enough, apparently." Ellen Adams, a legal assistant, was even more critical. "I think me police department in this town is just like the people on the other side of the bars," she said. "It's corrupt." "Somebody was guilty of something there," said Gene Murray, 39, a contractor. "I wasn't sure who. I think [police] did make a lot of mistakes, and they need to reassess the way they do things." Mier said the Santa Fe Police Department was more exacting in its investigations when he was on the force. In 1961, he said, Santa Fe had three homicides in one week, and each time, the suspects were apprehended within a few hours. In the Martinez case, Mier said, there were too many officers at the chaotic crime scene, and apparently not enough experienced investigators with specialized training to build a better case. Nobody appeared to be in charge, he said. "They're going to have to do a little better," he said. "The verdict was a surprise to everybody, but not to me." Q INSIDE STORY Who's an Indian Artist and Who's Not? BY M.E. SPRENQELJMEYER In a shady corner of the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, Shawnee artist Heidi Rankin's blue-tinted photograph preaches a message of ethnic tolerance. It's a picture of a somber-faced woman, half her body light- skinned and the other-Half dark- skinned. Crudely printed letters in the border proclaim, "Bloodlines don't matter as much as belief systems." That's one artist's view, but not a universal one in the lucrative Indian art industry. In a sun-drenched corridor only' a few yards away, a series of photo illustrations is caught in a glare of scrutiny because of a dispute over the heritage of the Albuquerque artist who created them. Santa Fe painter and sculptor David Bradley, who is part Chippewa, has filed a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the state Attorney General's Office charging that eight works in an exhibit of "contemporary Native American photographers" were not done by an Indian, as advertised. complain about her personally because of fear of being blacklisted by galleries, "She's from a large group of Chicanos who decided to masquerade as an Indian and get certain benefits you wouldn't otherwise get," Bradley said. "There are a lot of people pulling this scam." Since the artists' works are for sale, Bradley has asked the state Attorney General's Office to file charges of "fraud and false dealing" against both the artist and the museum. Kay Roybal, spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office, said the allegations are being taken seriously. She said state law requires artists to have written proof of membership in a recognized tribe if they want to tell potential buyers they are Indians. Little Turtle, contacted by phone at her home in Albuquerque, said she was insulted by Bradley's allegations but not surprised by them since he has accused other artists of falsely claiming to be Indians. "I don't think we should have fying Indian artists' backgrounds when it reviews a new policy manual next month. "The institute itself and the museum are very. interested in making sure that the information that goes out to the public is accurate," Gonzales said. He said the museum would attempt to contact Little T\irtle and, if necessary, would consider changing the labels identifying her as an Indian or removing her work from the show,. The traveling exhibit at the IAIA, called "Language of the Lens," was curated by the Heard Miiseum in Phoenix and sponsored by the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Its tour began more than a year ago and ends May 16 when it leaves the museum on Cathedral Place. Among the 51 photographs, Little Turtle's works stand out for their bright colors (dominated by pink and turquoise) hand-colored on black and white photographs. Seven of the eight works in the show tell a story through Indian subjects — most with their faces obscured. The current IAIA exhibit off Native American photographers Includes work by disputed Indian Carm Uttk» Tbrtle. — Sandra Tatum Photos At issue are seven hand-colored black and white photographs and one multi-media piece created by artist Carm Little Turtle. Although the exhibit identifies her as an Apache and Tarahumara Indian, Bradley says she is Hispanic with no traceable connection to any tribe. Therefore, he said, neither she nor the museum should be allowed to benefit from the Indian affiliation. His information about Little Turtle, Bradley said, comes from several Indian artists who know her but did not want to be identified or an art police," she said. She said that her father is Tarahumara from the Sierra Madre region of Mexico where she spent part of her childhood, and her maternal grandfather is Apache. Like.many other artists, however, she is not an officially registered member of either tribe because she believes registration laws are unjust and hurt Indian artists, she said. IAIA Museum Director Paul Gonzales said the institute's board of trustees will consider new, more-stringent guidelines on veri- Krista EIrick, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, said she was surprised by Bradley's complaint about Little Turtle, whose works she said are well-respected in Arizona art circles. EIrick said some Indians have questioned the heritage of "other artists in the show," but that the commission sponsored it anyway because of. the high quality of the artworks. She would not identify the artists whose ethnicity was questioned or say whether the doubts were, raised before or after the commission decision to spon- sor the exhibit "We feel tfiat the exhibit is of very high quality " EIrick said, "We feel that it,is a Native American expression, and therefore we decided to tour the^show." Mary Brennan, spokeswoman for the Heard Museum, said curators for the museum had interviewed Little Turtle and other prospective artists in the show about their Indian backgrounds but did not ask for tribal registration papers. "We had absolutely no rumblings, no complaints" about the backgrounds of the artists in the show until now, Brennan said. "Each artist assured us that they were what they said they were." Concerning Bradley's allegation that she is neither Apache nor Tarahumara, Little Turtle said, . "That's very insulting, not only to me but to my ancestors. And [Bradley], because of his insecurities, has attacked other artists, too." Little Turtle called the law requiring Indian artists to prove their heritage "unconstitutional and racist." "[Bradley] is having Indians fighting Indians, and the only people who benefit from the law are the dominant society," she said, because;it helps consumers but hurts undocumented Indians. "I don't see where fine art should fall under this law." Bradley said that while most Mexican-Americans have some Indian blood, "they can't put their finger on any cultural tradition that would identify them [as being] from any tribe. "Just because they're brown- skinned, they can pull the skin • over white people's eyes" and sell their artwork as Indians, he said. Bradley is no stranger to this issue. In 1988, working with the Native American Artists Association, he urged the Attorney General's Office to improve enforcement of the Indian Arts and Crafts Sales Act, which seeks to prevent sales by artists who falsely claim to be Indians. Bradley also tried to persuade galleries and museums not to show the work of artists the association believed were falsely claiming to be Indians. In the process, he accused more than a dozen well-known artists of making the false claim that they had Indian blood. In 1991, he filed another "pseudo- Indian" complaint with the Attorney General's Office. But investigation of the charges was dropped after artists whose heritage he disputed stopped labeling themselves as Indians, or the exhibits in which they were included ended (some of them early because of the scrutiny), Roybal said. Little Turtle, a nurse in Albuquerque, said she will not fight the museum if her works are taken out of the exhibit or mention of her tribal affiliations is removed. "I'm not out to jeopardize the rest of the exhibit. It's up to the curators," she said. Bradley said he is concerned that the show will be "sent on its merry way" without the issue's being resolved. "It doesn't sink in to these people [museum officials] that they're disseminating lies [non-Indian viewpoints] about the Indian community, and they're depriving Indian artists of these opportunities they're giving to frauds," he said. Q April 14—20,1993 SANTA FE REPORTER 15

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