Analysis Of Ruth Cuthand's Trading Series By Ruth Cuthand

Decent Essays

Ruth Cuthand’s Trading series is comprised of patches that have beadwork which depicts the microscopic image of various diseases that Indigenous people were exposed to. This series also contains a beaded patch depicting a disease that the Europeans were exposed to as a result of contact with Indigenous people. In this series, Ruth Cuthand addresses the devastating consequences that contact with Europeans had on the cultures and lives of Indigenous people, while also working to decolonize the knowledge that people have of the historical realities that occurred between Indigenous and non Indigenous people. Ruth Cuthand also manages to depict the survival and strength of Indigenous cultures and lives in spite of colonialism and oppression. …show more content…

However, trading for beads provided Indigenous people with a new material. By using beads, Ruth Cuthand both provides a visual representation for colonialism, while also showing how Indigenous people and cultures have survived in spite of colonialism. Ruth Cuthand’s Trading series also shows how contact impacted Indigenous lives and cultures. As the explanation on her website states, “Trading examines both sides of European trade. Trade brought new items that revolutionized Native life. . . The downside was the decimation of many tribes through disease. Diseases quickly spread, arriving even before Europeans” (Cuthand). While the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people may have been trading goods, they were also exchanging diseases that the other party had never been exposed to before. Although the Europeans may not have intended to expose Indigenous people to diseases that would prove deadly, it was a devastating consequence of contact and presently, is only one of the many negative consequences that occurred due to colonialism. In the Trading series there is a work that is created with dyed porcupine quills, instead of beads. This work is entitled “Syphilis”. This represents the disease that Europeans were exposed to and brought back

Get Access