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Hero (or Infiltrator of the Colonial Empire?)
Released October 2013
At the time of this writing, I reflect on the fact that in just one week our family will be hosting a potlatch. We will thrust open the doors of the Bighouse and invite people from throughout our territory and beyond to gather together. We will set aside our jobs and pop music and TV shows and video games. We will forbid the interference of fast food and Facebook and ego. Instead, we will focus on what it means to be Indigenous--what it means to be connected to each other and to place. Story, song, dance and community will come together to remind us of who we are.
Potlatches are valuable lessons in Indigeneity. Outsiders may only see the spectacle of the dance or hear the penetrating rhythm of the song. For us, though, it is a reminder of our place in the chain of humanity. We feel equal responsibility to our ancestors as to our descendants. We pass on names and songs that transcend time as we bind our children to the territory that surrounds us. They come to learn of their responsibility to the land. Where the colonial mindset is to move in, exploit and eventually move on, the Indigenous ethos is to stay put and protect.
Our warriors no longer raid other villages for revenge. Instead, we stand outside in the cold, demanding justice for our peoples and protection for our land. We stand alongside our non-Indigenous brothers and sisters who realize, too, that the world cannot sustain the kind of destruction that corporate greed wishes to exact. We also infiltrate the system wearing the suppressor's guise. We don suits and go to law and graduate school not to blend in, but to pick up another weapon. We make these choices, not for ourselves, but for the generations to come.
We enter the world with little input in how we are going to look, but significant say in how we are going to act. Will we be able to gaze into our children’s eyes and say that we did all we could to protect the land and to safeguard their heritage? Flesh and blood and bone connect each one of us together. While we may look similar from one person to the next, looks can be deceiving. It is our action or inaction that increasingly defines who we are. The question remains: will you choose to be a hero or a villain?
“Hero (or Infiltrator of the Colonial Empire?)” is a limited edition print using the giclée method of printmaking. This print was released in October of 2013 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 “Hero (or Infiltrator of the Colonial 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 inches. Image size measures about 13x13 inches.