LA’s ‘Indian Alley’ beautified with art, murals to show sense of pride after dark time with past Relocation Act

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Saturday, November 11, 2023 12:36AM

Artistic imagery reimagines Downtown LA's 'Indian Alley'

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A stretch of alley in Downtown L.A. has been nicknamed “Indian Alley” because of its location next to an outreach center that provided support for the Native American population in the 70s through 90s. The Alley is covered with murals depicting a sometimes difficult history. Now artists are working to make it a place of pride.

Artist Votan Ik is walking us through the historic district, a place that’s beautified with murals that reflect an ugly past when thousands of natives were brought to the city through the Relocation Act.

“A lot of the folks ended up on the streets and this alley is famous for that,” said Votan.

Now, generations later, it’s been transformed to represent something new, in large part, due to art.

“It has a whole different feel to it because now it’s a sense of pride because some of these folks had to survive those experiences and we wanted to lend a voice to that as well,” said Votan.

Votan doesn’t just do this with murals. He also creates mugs, t-shirts, sweaters and other products to pay homage to his Mayan roots. His brand, “Nsrgnts,” became a collective with other artists, representing indigenous people from across the continent.

“I saw that there was no representation absolutely for indigenous people so all of my projects were based on indigenous movements or identity or political views,” said Votan. “To be honest with you, I just felt like there was a void, an absence where we should be able to come forth and be part of society, man it was built on our backs, on our lands.”

He hopes that during this Native American Heritage Month, the imagery can help create a dialogue.

“That people are curious about who this is, or all the other pieces of work, or why does it say ‘Land Back’? Like what is that? We want to have those conversations,” said Votan.

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