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Warrior (or Harbinger of the Treaty Empire?)
Released March 2011
The other night I was sitting at a potlatch in Campbell River watching women from our village come out dancing to the K’omoks Ladies song. I felt it was beautiful and poignant that at that exact moment 50 km south, ballots were being counted to determine if the K’omoks people would continue to support the treaty process and were happy with the current Agreement-in-Principle. The K’omoks people spoke and were overwhelming in their support of the state of negotiations. I felt a chill come over my body.
I felt the presence of my ancestors who would not settle for ¼ of a percent of their traditional territory in exchange for the remaining 99¾. I felt the old people ask why we were reduced to counting numbers and money, while ignoring that which makes us unique--our culture. I questioned why there weren’t more K’omoks ladies dancing on that sacred floor. Our people fought and died for this land. They placed skulls at the foot of our fort to remind would-be-attackers of their potential fate. They were warriors and what are we? Are we lazy, scared, beaten beggars on our own land or are we warriors too?
The treaty process is a divisive process. It pitches First Nation against First Nation; it rips communities in two. It was never intended for our benefit--it is only there to provide “certainty” for the government in an attempt to solve the “Indian Problem.” We are not clones, devoid of thought or feeling. We are proud Aboriginal people. We may have had the ground ripped out from under us and our lands raped and stolen, but we will not let ourselves be assimilated. Treaty will never give us our identity--our culture will be the force that binds us together and protects us.
This piece is a clear nod to a favourite childhood movie. I felt it was a great metaphor for the subject matter at hand: Is treaty really black and white or shades of grey? Do the “good guys” always wear white? Will there be a treaty empire and am I part of the rebel alliance? Ha Ha! I did insert a glimmer of hope in the chin of the mask--a small cedar tree seedling that represents a rekindling of awareness and growth. “A new hope,” so to speak....
“Warrior (or Harbinger of the Treaty Empire?)” is a limited edition print using the giclée method of printmaking. This print was released in March 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 “Warrior (or Harbinger 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 11.4x11.9 inches.