“Kill the Indian, save the man” was the motto of the infamous Carlisle Indian School, the first federally funded, off-reservation Native American boarding school. Institutions like the Carlisle Indian School were established in the late 19th and 20th centuries to encourage the assimilation of Native youth into mainstream American culture. The separation was painful for families and abuse inside the schools was widespread. This collage by Geri Montano is a reference to those atrocities. The girl’s skeletal legs suggest her vulnerability. The candied apples that surround her evoke the explicit goals of these schools: to be red on the outside but white on the inside.
Like many contemporary Native artists, Montano draws from her diverse lineage to address a broad range of issues. Her works include large-format drawings on paper and sculptures that reference the difficult history of American Indian girls and women, including sex trafficking and the isolation of boarding schools. She has a strong interest in working with under-represented members of her community and currently serves a visual art instructor for adults with developmental disabilities.