Date of Award

April 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Jennifer Johung

Second Advisor

David Pacifico


AIM, Columbus, First Encounters, Indigenous, Performance, Vernon Bellecourt


At the Science Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota, Vernon Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement came to protest the arrival of the First Encounters: Spanish Explorations in the Caribbean and the United States: 1492-1570. To Bellecourt, the false narrative of Indigenous peoples represented the reality of the Columbus narrative that all indigenous peoples suffer from today. The gestures that Bellecourt engaged in during his protest performed an historic and powerful interconnected narrative. Bellecourt meant to perform an Indigenous cultural narrative of his own over that established Columbian narrative.

This paper will locate First Encounters within a long tradition of interrelated Native protests and performances which took place on the Quincentennial of Columbus’s arrival in Native land where I will explore the aspects of the historical narrative that had been a part of Native American culture since the arrival of Columbus in 1492.