"We Walk On; Eternally" by James Eric Francis Sr., Indian Island, 2020
Item 105625 info
Maine Historical Society
James Eric Francis Sr. (Penobscot) is a multi-media artist, a historian, and the Director of Cultural and Historic Preservation for the Penobscot Nation. His deep knowledge of Maine history, Penobscot culture, and Indigenous landscapes informs much of his creative output.
In 1755, in an attempt to clear the region for English-speaking settlements, Massachusetts lieutenant governor Spencer Phips issued proclamations that offered bounties for killing Native people. This proclamation required “his Majesty’s subjects of the province to embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing, and destroying all and every” Penobscot citizens. Scalps were used as proof of the genocidal killings, with bounties ranging from £20 to £50 for men, women, and children of any age. By June 1756, the Massachusetts assembly voted to raise the bounty to £300 per person—equal to about $60,000 in 2020.
Describing the painting, Francis noted that, "The artwork urges the citizens of Maine to join hands with the Indigenous population of Maine and walk eternally into the future and move beyond the deadly acts of the past. The use of language, color, and symbolism helps to affirm our resilience as Penobscot people historically, presently, and into the future."
Francis meticulously painted a recreation the 1755 Phips Proclamation for the background of this monumental five by four foot work, with the Penobscot word for "We Walk On; Eternally" painted over the proclamation in red.
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