Each summer in Montana, the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation revitalize tribal traditions during a fair known in the Crow language, as Um-basax-bilua (Where they make the noise). It’s the largest modern-day encampment in the country, gathering more than one thousand teepees amid the cottonwoods along the Little Bighorn River. Each day during the weeklong celebration, community members dress in their best traditional clothing, as they live and honor their customs and history.
The Crow Fair was initiated in 1904 by S. C. Reynolds, a government agent assigned to the Crow Reservation as a means of persuading the Crow people to farm. Reynolds relaxed the government’s strict policy of forbidding Native Americans to conduct traditional dances, ceremonies, singing, and other “Indian doings,” to encourage attendance of the Apsáalooke, who amplified the cultural festivities and would eventually eliminate the farming aspect.
Wendy Red Star’s Um-basax-bilua (Where They Make the Noise), is a celebration of cultural perseverance, colonial resistance, and ingenuity. A visual record of found and personal photographs and cultural memorabilia, Red Star’s annotated timeline summarizes the century-long history of the Crow Fair, and examines the cultural shift from colonial forced assimilation to cultural reclamation.
Raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) Reservation in Montana, Wendy Red Star’s work is informed by her cultural heritage and her engagement with many forms of creative expression, including photography, sculpture, video, fiber arts, and performance.
An avid researcher of archives and historical narratives, Red Star seeks to incorporate and recast her research, offering new and unexpected perspectives in work that is at once inquisitive, witty, and unsettling. Red Star holds a BFA from Montana State University, Bozeman, and an MFA in sculpture from the University of California, Los Angeles.
She lives and works in Portland, Oregon, and is guest editor of Native America, the Fall 2020 issue of Aperture magazine.
Aperture, a not-for-profit foundation, connects the photo community and its audiences with the most inspiring work, the sharpest ideas, and with each other—in print, in person, and online. Created in 1952 by photographers and writers as “common ground for the advancement of photography,” Aperture today is a multi-platform publisher and center for the photo community.
Um-basax-bilua (Where They Make the Noise) 1904–2016, 2017
Featuring: Wendy Red Star
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Aperture #240, Fall 2020
This fall, as debates around nationalism and borders in North America reach a fever pitch, Aperture magazine releases “Native America,” a special issue about photography and Indigenous lives, guest edited by the artist Wendy Red Star. Buy the issue now or click here to subscribe at a special Photoville discount.
Aperture Conversations: Wendy Red Star
Join us for an artist talk with Wendy Red Star as she discusses her 2017 project Um-basax-bilua (Where They Make the Noise) 1904–2016, a celebration of cultural perseverance, colonial resistance, and ingenuity.Learn More