Hitting Up and Going Over

Page 5 of 6

tall, modern concrete marker covered with spray paint graffiti

© 1998 by VIAs, Inc.

The original text on a Lewis and Clark marker covered with spray painted graffiti

© 1998 by VIAs, Inc.

The obelisk pictured here stands a few yards north of U.S. Highway 2 on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, a few miles south of the presumed location of Camp Disappointment, which is on private land. It was erected in the 1890s by the Great Northern Rail. The inscription, partly obliterated by the "going over," reads, "July 22, 1806/Farthest point west on Capt Lewis trip up the Marias River." On the western horizon is the spectacular Rocky Mountain Front.

Graffiti covers all surfaces of the monument, as high as a person can reach, with tags over tags. It's been "hit up" and "gone over." From the perspective of white culture, a historic shrine has been defiled. On the other hand, considering the fact that the only blood spilled on the entire Lewis and Clark expedition was that of two Blackfeet men, tribal members have no reason to respect a monument to Lewis's presence on their turf.


Further Reading:

See the Graffiti Glossary at http://www.at149st.com/glossary.html and the history of the art at http://www.at149st.com/hpart1.html and http://www.at149st.com/hpart2.html.

A "tag" is basically a signature of some sort, either initials or full names. "Getting up" means to "hit up"—"tag" with paint or ink—any surface with graffiti. One writer covering up another writer's tag is "going over." "Throwup" is another term for a quick, simple tag.