kalART.ch – Projects

Project_Route 66

kalART's 1959 Chevrolet Impala - © Thomas Kalau - kalART
kalART's 1959 Chevrolet Impala - © Thomas Kalau - kalART

NATIVE 66 - A Sociology Project

For millennia, native peoples have lived on and worked the earth of North America. They fared through weal and woe, times of peace and war and (forced) migration – but most of all, they have always been one with nature.

Things changed with the arrival of the European settlers in what they called the New World, four centuries ago. The settlers brought Modern Times to the native nations – achievements of a different culture and society.

On their way westward, the Europeans-become-Americans created new routes of transportation across native lands, trails for the settlers with their wagons, culminating in a transcontinental road system in the early 20th century.

Route 66 – a milestone in cross-continental travelling on paved, uninterrupted roadways – was inaugurated on November 11, 1925, and decommissioned on June 27, 1985. By then, native American nations had long been (re)settled into reservations, many of them in the US Southwest – the heartland of Route 66.

Native 66 tries to shed light on the impact of new (automotive) mobility and in particular of Route 66 on the life of native American nations along the highway connecting the Great Lakes with the Pacific coast; nations who lived in the Southwest for generations, but also nations who were resettled into this harsh, yet fascinating environment.

Reflections on a journey into the past – Mother Road, take me home…

To all the native American nations, “for these people … were not at all like the Pedros and Panchos of silly American lore … they were not fools, they were not clowns---they were great grave Indians and they w[e]re the source of mankind and the fathers of it” (Jack Kerouac; On the road, original scroll, p.381, ISBN 978-0-670-063550) – and their blood runs through the arteries and veins of my wife Mary, for whom the road is but a means to get from here to there.