ARTWORK > Secret Codewords of the NSA

Woodblock print by Annie Bissett depicting a buffalo / bison
Japanese woodblock (mokuhanga)
6" x 6" (15.24 x 15.24 cm)

Y is for yellowstone, an NSA analytical database.

Yellowstone is also the name of the first U.S. national park, known for its geothermal features and its wildlife, including Grizzly bears, wolves, and free-ranging herds of bison and elk.

Something I've been thinking about as I've worked on this series of Secret NSA Codewords is how often our culture is shaped by our military decisions and needs. The entire Secret Surveillance State that we now live in is a direct reaction (many would say over-reaction) to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and it turns out that the story of the American Bison is also tied up with a military decision. At one time, an estimated 30 million or more bison dominated most of the central and western portion of North America, where they had lived continuously since prehistoric times, but by 1889 there were only just over 1,000 bison left. Although native Americans hunted bison, they generally didn't hunt to excess. It was the U.S. Army that actually reduced the herds in the late 1800s, when they launched a campaign to eliminate bison as a way to control the Indian tribes that depended on the bison for food. In one of the many ironies that characterizes American history, the U.S. Army brought a few dozen bison to Yellowstone Park to 'protect' them, and it is from that tiny herd that the 2,500- to 5,000-head herd at Yellowstone descended.

3 applications of color, with blind emboss
Kochi Kozo paper
edition: 20