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Hired Gun (or Consultant of the Treaty Empire?)
Released November 2011
The British Columbia treaty process is an industry that has spent in excess of a billion dollars in just over 15 years. With all of this money involved, consultants and lawyers circle around prospective treaty talks like vultures hankering for their piece of the carcass. Surprisingly, First Nations continue to hire these “experts” in the hope that they’ll deliver our people to the promised land of treaty settlement.
Unfortunately, the path to the promised land is beset by massive amounts of debt. Through the BC treaty process, First Nations are compelled or coerced into borrowing money from the government. We are told that the loans don’t have to be paid back until settlement is reached. If we decide to pull out of the process early, however, we are told payment on the debt is due immediately. We are caught in a web where we can’t afford to quit treaty talks and must continue to borrow money to keep the process going.
Where does all of this money go, one might ask? Most of it goes out to the “hired guns”--the consultants and lawyers who bleed our coffers dry through exorbitant fees, per diems and salaries. The money does not stay in our communities, of course. Instead, it goes out to fund lifestyles that are often far removed from that on the reserve. The Hired Guns aren’t all bad people, either. I consider myself a friend of a number of them and know that the system itself is the real flaw.
I know about being a “Hired Gun” because I was one myself. I did work for several different treaty tables as a consultant where my job was to try to convince members that treaty was a good idea. I stopped doing this type of work because I couldn’t stomach it: I couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt in charging our high fees, that in reality were much lower than what others would charge and I couldn’t try to “sell” others on the benefits of treaty when I had doubts myself.
This piece is a clear nod to a favourite childhood movie. I felt it was a great metaphor for the subject matter at hand: a bounty hunter that would take money from either side. What can be more clear than that?
“Hired Gun (or Consultant of the Treaty Empire?)” is a limited edition print using the giclée method of printmaking. This print was released in November of 2011 and printed by Andy Everson at Copper Canoe, the artist’s own studio in Comox B.C. A total of 109 prints bear the title “Hired Gun (or Consultant of the Treaty Empire?)” and are signed by Andy Everson: 99 in the primary edition bearing the numbers 1/99 through 99/99; 9 Artist’s Proof; and 1 Printer’s Proof. The acid-free Moab Entrada 100% cotton rag paper measures 17x18.75 inches. Image size measures about 10.5x15 inches.