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Edgar Heap of Birds

American Indian Community House Gallery/Museum

Male identity in Western culture has tended to be defined in terms of relations of power that circulate around gender and cultural difference––an identity in support of which an abundance of anthropological and zoological data has been assembled to “prove” that the inferiority of women and others is the “natural” order of things. Edgar Heap of Bird's work has always recognized this situation as a problem of rhetoric, of a measure of the untranslatability between disparate entities, but one that nevertheless has had serious effects upon the psychic and social well-being of his people in Oklahoma Indian Territory.

Heap of Bird's recent installation, Heh No Wah Maun Stun He Dun (What Makes a Man, 1987) was doubly provocative, as it refused to present the victimized Indian position with which white liberalism identifies or to image male “Indianness” by stereotypes of either mainstream or

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