Blood Quantum

Cressandra Thibodeaux, Stamps School of Art & Design

Collaborators: Matthew Fletcher, Professor of Law and American Culture; Amy Stillman, Head of the Native American Studies Program; Bethany Hughes, Assistant Professor in the Native American Studies Program; Kaya Beaudoin, LSA; Hannah Buchanan, Stamps; Kenneth Wilson, Rackham

“Blood Quantum” explores Native American perspectives on the colonial construct of Blood Quantum. This new body of work revolves around the creation of 20 color portraits and accompanying interviews with my Native American collaborators.

The overarching goal is to shed light on the diverse ways tribes recognize their members, the adverse impact of Blood Quantum on tribal sovereignty, and its effects on individual tribal members. Furthermore, I will create a thought-provoking zine, featuring an introduction by the esteemed tribal law professor Matthew Fletcher.

In addition, to reach a wider audience, I will create a short video based on the interviews exploring the colonial concept of Blood Quantum and post the video on numerous social media platforms, Youtube and Vimeo.

The project merges art, anthropology, sociology, Native American studies, and law. It involves photography, storytelling, cultural analysis, and legal insights to challenge and redefine the narrative around Blood Quantum.

Interdisciplinary collaboration is crucial to tackle the complex social, historical, and legal dimensions of Blood Quantum. By integrating various disciplines, the project can provide a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of its impact on Native American identity.

The arts serve as the primary medium to convey the project’s message. The color portraits capture the visual essence of Native American identity, while the accompanying interviews add depth and narrative, making the project a powerful tool for storytelling and advocacy.

Benefits: Diverse perspectives and skill sets from collaborators enhance the project’s depth and scope. Each member can contribute unique insights and expertise from their respective disciplines.

Potential challenges: might include balancing individual contributions within a cohesive narrative for the art show, zine and short video piece.

Project Execution and Timeline: All portrait sessions and interviews will be completed by January 28, 2024, the zine creation will be completed by February 15, 2024, the video production and completion will be by March 1, 2024, which includes time for review and revision.

The 1st year art show is March 2024, which coincides with our 50th Anniversary Powwow. 500 zines will be distributed at the art show and the powwow.

The project aims to create awareness, challenge misconceptions, and foster dialogue both within the University of Michigan campus and the wider local community. Impact can be measured through exhibition attendance, engagement at the annual Powwow, zine distribution, and online viewership.

My participants are open with sharing their Native perspectives. Matthew Fletcher is an award-winning proffer in tribal law and an esteemed writer. I’m an award-winning photographer and documentarist. I will use my contacts at NASA to help in our social media outreach, and community engagement. This project’s interdisciplinary nature and collaborative approach will enhance its depth, impact, and contribution to both academia and the community.

Young Native American Man
Young Native American Woman
Native American Man