Glenbow Museum - Where the World Meets the West

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Large Image

Title: Big Rivers

Date: 2006

Creator: Bruno Canadien

Additional Creator Information: Deh Gah Got'ine (b. 1972)

Medium: acrylic and pencil on canvas

The painting Big Rivers is part of the Constellations series which explores Aboriginal diaspora and presence by mapping out First Nation urban, suburban, rural and rez populations and communities. This idea was borne out of an original piece (Indians Are Everywhere) which was an initial exploration and visual expression of the often ignored fact that Indians are here and everywhere in North, Central and South America.

The Constellations series places on "the Map" contemporary First Nations communities and populations in the Americas, de-colonizing the geographical and meta-physical landscape and exploring relationships between Native North America and settler communities. For example, our countries were occupied by First Nations for many years prior to the arrival of settler-states and non-Indigenous map-makers who ignored our occupation and re-drew the world according to imaginary lines and boundaries. In actuality, our communities are where they have always been, placed in relation to the land and the rivers within our ancient territories. Also, new communities have sprung up, and our people can be found in rural and urban centres throughout the new settler states, reflecting complex historical and economic relationships yet to be revealed. In this instance, the stars represent mainly Dene/Athabascan, Inuit and Tlingit communities, as well as urban communities with Native populations. In this northern country, most communities are found on the major rivers, such as the Yukon, the Tanana, the Liard and the Dehcho. Some locations have been seasonally occupied for centuries, others are more recently established due to economic trends or historical upheavals such as the Gold Rush or the building of the Alaska Highway. All are currently occupied.

-Bruno Canadien

Bruno Canadien's map outlines a different worldview than traditional maps, one that is devoid of colonial borders and boundaries. This map also reflects a perspective that sees the world as an immense landscape, incapable of being contained within the picture plane. Using stars to mark contemporary First Nations communities, Bruno disorients our vision in terms of time and space. Our eyes oscillate back and forth between land and space, between past and present. He maps out a large Aboriginal presence that is complex and fluid, extending beyond traditional territory to rural and urban communities. Bruno highlights how Western maps embrace a different worldview that has marginalized an Aboriginal sense of history, land and place.

-Quyen Hoang

Collection Area: Art

Rights Holder: Collection of Glenbow Museum; Purchased with funds from the Historic Resource Fund, 2008

Catalogue No: 2008.107.001

Image No: P0017597

Learn More:
This artwork can be used in conjunction with Honouring Tradition: Reframing Native Art education guide from the online teacher's resource series 21st Century Learning: Links to Our Collection.


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