Differing ideas about law underlie this project. The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi deployed the U.S. legal system to fight for their land, demanding that the U.S. honor its treaties. A form of international law, treaties are explicitly referenced in the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article 37 states: “Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.” The U.S. signed 370 treaties with Native nations between 1778 and 1871.
The installation of the public art component of this project required navigation of another aspect of the law: city code governing sidewalks. Sidewalks are part of the public way, owned and governed by the city government for public use. One could ask: what does public use mean on occupied Native land?
Page from 1833 Treaty of Chicago (National Archives)