a branding iron with the word indian

To the Discriminating Collector, 2002

Gerald Clarke Jr.

Cahuilla, Born 1967, Steel, Gift of Loren G. Lipson, M.D., Autry Museum of the American West, 2017.16.1

This sculptural, oversized “branding iron” references the complicated and brutal history of American Indian slavery that began with the first continental settlers. In early California, Native Americans were often forced laborers whose children could be legally indentured, and whose testimony by law was not accepted in court. This historical trauma and the related genocide of American Indian people and cultures left a deep scar, like an invisible brand. By working on cultural revitalization, including the recovery of ceremonies and language, Native communities are taking steps to heal from this colonial legacy.

about To the Discriminating Collector

artist bio

California's Genocide

California Genocide refers to the actions by the United States federal, state, and local governments that targeted Native American populations beginning in the mid-19th century. These included more than 370 large-scale massacres, as well as the murder or enslavement of individuals, sometimes for bounties and rewards. Children were legally indentured as slaves, and Indians could not testify against whites in a court of law. Many children were taken from their parents and sent to federal boarding schools so they could be assimilated. The spread of disease, forced Christian conversion, and seizing of resource-rich land also contributed to the loss of American Indian culture. 

On June 18, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that apologized for this genocide on behalf of the State of California. The acknowledgement and apology is one step in the healing of many Native communities that still struggle with loss of cultural traditions during this dark time in their history. 


When I Remember I See Red: American Indian Art and Activism in California was organized by the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA, with support from the United Auburn Indian Community. This presentation at the Autry has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Land Acknowledgment

The Autry Museum of the American West acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). We recognize that the Autry Museum and its campuses are located on the traditional lands of Gabrielino/Tongva peoples and we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.

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