The Trail of Tears: From Manifest Destiny to the Promised Land


Artist Statement

Kanaan Kanaan is a descendant of the ancient Canaanites, one of the indigenous Semitic peoples who inhabited Palestine and the Levant (present-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine) since time immemorial. His family hails from the coastal town of Jaffa, but Kanaan was raised in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan.

Growing up, Kanaan witnessed the mass displacement of his people and gruesome wars, which led to his lifelong commitment to peace and justice. In the “Trail of Tears” exhibit, his artistic endeavors focus on the plight of the Palestinians and the price they paid as victims of the colonization of the “Promised Land” by Eastern European settlers on a mission to fulfill their “Manifest Destiny.”

This exhibit also draws parallels between the experiences of Kanaan’s people and the colonization of North America by white settlers. Palestinians were victims of a messianic religious ideology, and its first proponents were Christian Dispensationalists, a form of Christian Zionism, who believed that the return of the Jews to Palestine would hasten Armageddon.

Christian Zionism remains a colonialist and racist ideology and has found a home within the American evangelical community. Its members’ justification for displacing the indigenous Palestinians, and their blind support for the State of Israel, echoes the doctrine of Manifest Destiny that led to the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous peoples of North America.

This exhibit is a rebuttal to the American mainstream media narrative that has systematically demonized the Palestinians and ignored a century-long trail of tears in the United States.

Kanaan is the Artistic Director of the Royal Mint of Palestine, which produces coins to memorialize the history of the Palestinians from the Nakba in 1948 to their resistance to today’s apartheid state. Kanaan will speak to his vision of reclaiming Palestinian economic sovereignty through “Palestinian Resistance Shekels,” to be unveiled for the first time at the exhibit and destined to liberate Palestinians from reliance on Israel’s enforced fiat currency.

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It was a humorously perilous business for both of us. For, before we proceed further, it must be said that the monkey-rope was fast at both ends; fast to Queequeg's broad canvas belt, and fast to my narrow leather one.

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