Inez Inok’t is a mixed Indigenous Mapuche mural artist and educator who grew up in the Huichin Ohlone territory of Oakland, California. Her murals combine rough graffiti street art style with a touch of realism, creating scenes that remind the people that not all enjoy freedom in the 'land of the free' that the USA claims to be. Inez Inok’t’s pieces advocate for Indigenous rights, but also for other marginalized communities who are oppressed and discriminated against, including Muslims in America and Palestinians in Gaza. Her work thus embodies the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Reduced Inequalities.

Photograph of Inez Inok’t. Image courtesy of YES! World.

Since 2010, there has been a movement of Native street artists leaving their marks across the United States. The idea behind their movement is simple yet powerful: to retake the streets built on land that has been forcefully taken from their communities. Inez Inok’t’s artworks are no different. They are eye-catching displays that help her share Indigenous stories and culture with the larger public. 

Take, for example, her #Wallmapulibre piece. It shows the beautiful landscape of Wallmapu in Chile, where the Mapuche people are native. By placing the Wallmapu landscape inside the silhouette of a Mapuche woman, she helps to affirm Indigenous rights over their land.

Piece by Inez Inok’t, titled #Wallmapulibre. Image courtesy of @mamamuralista/Instagram.

Inez Inok’t is particularly interested in Native hair, hairstyles and the symbolic meanings behind them. In her piece Honoring grief is an Indigenous praxis. Viewers can see an Indigenous girl getting her hair braided. However, the braided hair hangs in thin air as if there was another figure there that had been erased.

Honoring grief is an Indigenous praxis by Inez Inok’t. Image courtesy of @mamamuralista/Instagram.

Across cultures, hair braiding and styling is seen as a way for women to find support and a sense of community. However, as the piece’s title alludes, Honoring grief is an Indigenous praxis. Indigenous communities are losing their women to various crimes. In turn, this means that they are also losing their sense of community and support.

The United States Government has also declared that there is an ongoing missing and murdered Indigenous people crisis, which has disproportionately affected American and Alaskan Native women. Murder, rape and violent crime rates with these groups are higher than the national average of crimes that are directed toward women. It is truly an urgent problem that her piece sheds light on.

Piece by Inez Inok’t of a Wallmapu and a Palestinian skater. Image courtesy of @mamamuralista/Instagram.

Aside from advocating for issues of the Indigenous communities, Inez Inok’t also uses her pieces to show solidarity with other oppressed communities. Currently, she is voicing the cries of Palestinians and advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza. In one of her pieces, she does this by portraying an Indigenous woman skateboarding with a Palestinian. Both women wear recognizable traditional garments, which look out of place, considering that skateboarders are typically associated with streetwear.

Once again, this ties her pieces back to the American Native street art movement, whose goal is to show that Indigenous people are here today, occupying the streets of America, as they always have done so since before the land was named the United States of America. 

Piece by Inez Inok’t of Palestinian Anti-war activist, Bisa Owda. Image courtesy of @mamamuralista/Instagram.

Find out more about Inez Inok’t’s murals and their other initiatives by checking their Instagram on @mamamuralista.

You've successfully subscribed to Arts Help
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Great! You've successfully signed up.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.