John Fekner’s Trail Markers is a tribute to the Native American tribes who lived in harmony with the land on Long Island. The video was shot at various locations in Queens, NY and includes original footage from Enviromental Stencils 77-79, a collaboration with Fred Baca. Fekner considers Trail Markers, a video diptych, as it also features The Sight Of The Child. The first portrait is from the viewpoint of a Native American; the second is from a child from a distant bleak future.
(Dialog excerpts from Trail Markers video)
“Some of them can see the writing on the wall. Others see it but they don’t give a dam. And others just don’t see it. All they can see is the Almighty dollar. You know, its like I say, it takes all kind of people to make up the world. And it’s a case of who’s going to be the strongest and who’s going do the work. Who’s gonna get it done. But it must be done. Otherwise, the whole world is, will come to an end. You know that my people lived with a balance of nature all those thousands of years before the white man; and whenever they took something, they always gave something. And it worked out fine. And the white man came along and he just took, took, took. He’s been taking all these hundreds of years. Now after all these hundreds of years, now he’s realizing that he gotta start putting back. I mean he’s working like hell to put it back, but you got other people still taking. The Almighty dollar means everything to them. They don’t realize that the Almighty dollar isn’t going to be worth anything to them if there’s no world to use it in.”
Ric, a Mohawk Nation Indian
“We have values to live by that we can share with you. Because soon, we’ll all have to live different. We realize and we’d like you Americans to see that America is only two hundred years old. And when we see in America and its problems, it doesn’t have two hundred winters. America doesn’t even have another fifty winters. And I don’t speak of revolution when I see that change happening, I see evolution gonna happen on the Mother Earth.”
Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman
I find them everywhere. Discarded objects from another time. The old folks are the only ones who remember the magic these shattered wooden cabinets possessed at one time. They say these boxes contained a powerful light that could show you pictures of anything you might possible imagine. The old ones also tell stories of electricity and global telecommunications. Each morning, my father and the other workers attempt to reconstruct a row of shacks that border the remains of a railroad station. Sometimes, a figure appears walking on the tracks in the distance. Usually, these strangers don’t say that much, and before you know it, they’re on their way before the sun goes down. This is our only contact with other places.
Every afternoon when the steeple bell rings, we gather at the last building that still stands on main Street, the one with the Latin inscriptions and roman numerals. Our teacher, who was a fireman during the devastation, hopes that someday he will be able to interpret these words for us. Last week, we read a book called “The Grapes of Wrath” written during the previous century by an author named John Steinbeck. Our teacher said America always changed too fast, like when the dust made the farmers move to California. He said the new strangers were called something like oak trees. But I don’t really understand.
© John Fekner