Imagining Joaquin Murrieta

$42.00

Melanie Cervantes
13” x 19”, Full color giclée print with white border, 100% cotton rag, 260gsm Archival Velvet Fine Art Paper, 2018, Open Edition

In October of 2016 I started to work on a composite portrait of Joaquin Murrieta. It's been difficult and interesting to form an image of Murrieta who is shrouded in mystery because of myth, legend and racist rendering. Many of the images that exist of Murrieta depict a bug eyed , scary looking man with buoyant hair. So over these months I have embarked on what I call "Imagining Joaquin Murrieta." "From the rich and the greedy/ I take away their money/ To the poor and the humble/ I lift my hat/ Oh, such unjust laws!/ I shall become an outlaw" --Ballad of Joaquín Murieta

From Elizabeth Betita Martinez's "500 Years of Chicano History" "Our people did not quietly accept the lynchings and the murders, the theft of land and resources. We resisted, through out the 1800's in armed struggle. Anglos put the label of 'bandit' on our resistance heroes; the ruling class always does this to those who challenge its rule.

Some of them did 'steal' from Anglos, because it was their only means of survival. Such a man was Joaquín Murrieta, who went to California about 1850 as a miner. He was insulted robbed, beaten and driven out by Anglo miners. Many also say he wife was raped and killed [along with his brother while Murieta was beat and horse whipped.' By the age of 19, he had started to fight back--with wide support...the State sent Rangers to get him...they [reportedly] killed him and cut off his head which was preserved in alcohol. Many people say it was the wrong Joaquín and that Murrieta lived on. Among Raza everywhere...he is a symbol of our resistance to U.S. imperialism."

When placer gold started to pan out White settlers got greedy and passed a Foreign Miner's Tax required 'non-citizens' to pay a prohibitive tax to work the claims. Despite this discrimination these miners participated in an extractive industry that advanced genocidal practices against Indigenous peoples in CA. During the time of "the California Gold Rush, the CA government, between 1850 and 1859 financed and organized militia units to hunt down and kill Native Americans in the state. Between 1850 and 1852 the state appropriated almost one million dollars for the activities of these militias, and between 1854 and 1859 the state appropriated another $500,000, almost half of which was reimbursed by the federal government.These death squads were part of the reduction of the indigenous population of California from 150,000 in 1848 to just 15,000 in 1900. (Wikipedia)