Water Bird Tee
This design of a Sudagi U’uhig (Water Bird) was made by Thomas Breeze Marcus (O’odham / Ponca). The O’odham have always incorporated different types of birds into stories, song, dance, pottery, basketry, and other forms of art. The sight of an egret, heron, or crane on the water in the desert was something to behold, and the ancient O'odham honored these beings in their lives and artwork. Today, O'odham still highly respect the birds that easily move between water, earth, and sky. Water birds exist in the desert because of the flowing bodies that include the Gila and Salt Rivers. All creatures depend upon these life-giving sources, including the O’odham.
As the population of Phoenix continues to grow, the primary concern about the future pertains to access to water. How long can the stress of overpopulation last in an unsustainable metropolis? For these reasons, you will see so many Indigenous people on the frontlines protecting land and specific sites: it is out of respect for the beauty of natural environments, an understanding of the intricate close relationships with surroundings, and the sacred reverence for all living things.
Breeze is a full time artist raised on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community outside of Phoenix. He has been a public artist in Phoenix for over two decades, creating murals and studio work based on contemporary and traditional O’odham identity. Breeze pulls inspiration from traditional O’odham storytelling, contemporary issues, and his background as a former graffiti writer.
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