Wampanoag Power

The narrative of the Pilgrim’s arrival & settlement from Plymouth, UK to the United States is a largely farcical historical retelling, that omits the enslavement and brutality inflicted upon the native Wampanoag population in Massachusetts. Through the lens of racial empowerment, I have created ‘Wampanoag Power’, an artwork that looks to dispel the neatly repackaged revisionist history of this time.

There are clear parallels with the transatlantic slave trade and the Pilgrim colonisers & slavers in the 17th century. Informed by my Sierra Leonean heritage and culture, the similarities in these histories enabled me to empathise with the atrocities inflicted upon the Wampanoag; so it felt apropos to make myself the subject of the piece, in order to bring the proximity of these issues to the forefront. Using motifs inspired by traditional Wampanoag culture, specifically Massasoit (the leader of the Wampanoag at the time of the Pilgrims’ arrival in 1620) this artwork celebrates the Native Americans that have had a significant part of their history mythologised to suit their oppressors.

This self portrait, drawn on John Bunyan's 'The Pilgrim's Progress' (1736), was made during my time as an artist-in-residence at Southwark Park Galleries in August 2021 as part of their funded Mayflower project. It was a privilege to be invited to be a part of such a powerful and significant opportunity to deconstruct such a widely propagated fallacy of revisionist history.