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Negotiator (or Father of the Treaty Empire?)
Released November 2011
Treaty agreements imply Nation-to-Nation negotiation. Unfortunately, “negotiation” is a poor choice of words when it comes to the BC Treaty Process. In the governments’ eyes, negotiation merely means assigning dollars per capita; our First Nations are relegated to nothing more than formulas under treaty. If we want more land, less cash is given. If we desire more cash, less land is included in the deal. In areas where property values are high, less land is given; in rural areas where property values are low, more land is included in the deal.
This goes completely against our Aboriginal principles. We were placed in this land by the Creator and entrusted to it. How can one sacred site take more of a “cap hit” on settlement than another First Nation’s sacred site? How can our bathing spots, our rivers, our streams and our lakes be monetized and rolled into a deal by number-crunching geeks in Ottawa or Victoria? How can we package or choose not to package the very graves of our ancestors? It is sickening that these negotiations even suggest that we pick certain key sites, at the exclusion of others. At least under the status quo, our consciences can rest easy that we haven’t yet squandered away our grandchildren’s birthrights.
The government likes to say that they are acting under “good-faith” negotiations. They say that Canada, BC and the First Nations are on an equal playing field. It couldn’t be any further from the truth. Many of our First Peoples live in destitute conditions while the governments can call up an endless array of bureaucrats, consultants, lawyers and negotiators to bring to bear against our people. If our requests do not play well with their formulas, negotiations will grind to a halt. If we don’t like the way negotiations are heading, the only recourse we have is to get out of the process, in which case the government will bleed us out through debts incurred under treaty loans.
This piece is a clear nod to a favourite childhood movie. I felt it was a great metaphor for the subject matter at hand: the dark and sinister form of the negotiator who blindly adheres to the directions of an unseen and malevolent force. The negotiator with a blank skeletal stare who would more readily choke someone out, than give in to reasonable demands. This is the figure who sets out to create our new empire--to be the founding father of a new chapter in our Aboriginal history. It is up to us to speak out and to rebel....
“Negotiator (or Father 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 “Negotiator (or Father 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 17x17.75 inches. Image size measures about 12.75x14.25 inches.