Taylor Dean

Tribe: Puyallup
Based In: King County, OR
Email: td12548@gmail.com
Social Media: @taylordeanart

About the Art
Ramona Bennett, like the artist, is a member of the Puyallup Tribe in what is now known as Tacoma. She served as Puyallup Tribal Chairwoman toward the beginning of her legacy as an Indigenous activist, and has been involved in many Indigenous direct action projects throughout her life. Of note is Bennett’s work with other activists (including her son) in occupying the defunct Fort Lawton in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, now allocated as Discovery Park. The aim of that 1970 protest was to pressure the government to return the property to Seattle’s Native population, to be used as a Native cultural center. Today, Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center resides on the north end of the park’s protected land.

Ramona has also been prominent in fishing rights advocacy, staging local “fish-ins” during the Fishing Wars that led to the Boldt decision, and co-founding the Survival of American Indians Foundation in 1964. Intimately connected to this work is the health and protection of natural water systems. The continued fight for water rights is echoed still today via the Dakota Access Pipeline and, locally, the efforts to free the Snake River dams that are endangering salmon and orca populations.

Ode to Ramona Bennett, a large-scale acrylic-on-canvas painting, honors Bennett’s work by depicting her as a water warrior and imbuing her portrait with related imagery including two fish against an aqua-blue backdrop.

(text by Ellie DiCola)