Welcome to “The World’s UnFair” New Red Order Call to ‘Give It Back’


On a cool blustery fall day in a vacant city lot in Queens, New York, visitors were welcomed to New Red Order (NRO)’s “The World’s UnFair”.  Attendees walk through an eagle-shaped entryway revealing the unfairgrounds with a variety of art installations. Here NRO has created an alternate reality, one of humor, satire and whimsy – a mash-up of marketing and the landback movement. NRO could have held the UnFair in a park or other open space, but they wanted a vacant lot, for its sense of potential.

“The World’s UnFair” is the culmination of NRO’s 2021 SHIFT Award project from the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation (NACF). NRO partnered with Creative Time, a public arts organization that produces, presents, and sponsors programs in the visual and performing arts that encourage dialogue between artists and communities.

The exhibition ran from September 15 to October 22, 2023, and the New York Times reported that 600 people attended on the opening day. Throughout the UnFair recruitment videos and banners invite “settlers” to join the New Red Order as non-Indigenous advocates of Indigenous rights. Flat-screen monitors in a scary-looking tree show pictures of an island near Eureka, Calif., the location of an 1860 massacre, recently returned to the Wiyot people. Across the UnFair, hundreds of tribal flags are hung to establish the present-day sovereign Indigenous presence within the borders of the so-called United States.

The UnFair main event took place on Oct. 7, with the “Give It Back Gathering,” featuring “the give-it-backers” (people who have actually relinquished property to Indigenous groups). NACF’s Lulani Arquette (Native Hawaiian) outgoing President and CEO, was featured in the panel of give-it-backers along with Flint Jamison, co-founder of the Yale Union to share about the historic transfer of the Yale Union building to NACF. Also featured was Mayor Kim Bergel of Eureka, California who returned the aforementioned island to the Wiyot people, and Libby Schaaf, former Mayor of Oakland, California who also facilitated a land transfer to an Indigenous organization in Oakland. The panelists discussed the positive outcomes and challenges of giving land back to Indigenous peoples and encouraged attendees to look into how they can also “Give It Back”.

River Whittle (Caddo, Lenape, and Irish-American-settler), Artist and Steward of Lenni Lenapexkweyok, gave opening remarks as the event began, and NACF 2016 National Artist Fellow Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache) performed songs from her new album “Smoke Rings Shimmers Endless Blur” at the close of the event.

The World’s UnFair moves beyond the symbolic: it serves as a call to action to rematriate land in so-called New York City and worldwide.

In a time where the future appears bleak or non-existent, giving it back offers a bright path forward, a way for us to survive an apocalypse together. The landmass here is enormous. And its ecological capacity to sustain life is immense if we care for these resources correctly. You can have a place. But first things first: Give it Back.”

—New Red Order