Late 2017

Early 2017

2016 Year End Paintings

The Last Days Series

Is a two piece series that depicts the two most dominant plains Indian confederacies of what is now western Canada and the northern United States; The Blackfoot Confederacy and The Iron Nation Confederacy. They waged war for decades… Bloodshed, brutality, massacres and vengeance was the reality at that time. It wasn’t until near the end of these wars that an adoption took place between a Blackfoot Chief named Crowfoot and a young Cree man named Poundmaker. They bonded so closely that over time Crowfoot took him as his own son.

 

Poundmaker was apart of the North-West Rebellion, and was the acting chief of the Cree and Assiniboine in The Battle of Cutknife Hill which was a massive Cree victory…. Poundmaker was imprisoned after this battle. As was tradition and custom to cut the inmates braids. Crowfoot intervened and directly threatened the government, stating the fact that “If you cut my sons hair their will not be a single white man alive in Blackfoot territory.” (Some say that statement was exaggerated.) Nevertheless, They never cut his son’s hair..

 

In the year 1870 a terrible battle between the two confederacies occurred. This wasn’t a skirmish, nor was it a fight. It was two armies that battled for a full day. It was estimated that there was around 700 warriors on both sides. And also estimated that close to 500 warriors were killed. After this battle both sides came to their senses and realized this had to stop. Enough was enough. This battle was called The Battle of the Belly River. And never again did the confederacies engage in any form of conflict ever again. This was a huge victory for the Blackfoot people and was the largest First Nations battle that took place in Canada in all recorded history…

 

Modern day 2016, you will see it all around. Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge…  Cree and Blackfoot people working together, befriending one another. sharing ceremonies together. We Sundance together, Sweat together, share and exchange songs. Marry, have kids. Times have changed. And the reason I’ve painted this series is to remind people that peace is always possible, And no matter how much fighting goes on, no matter how much blood is shed, scalps are taken, there can always be, and will always be, a solution of peace and love and harmony.


View The Last Days Series Gallery.

Mid-Late 2016

The Warriors Between Worlds Series

In his collection Warriors Between Worlds artist Mike Holden (Salteaux/Cree) explores the conflicting nature of the modern history of the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island and their relationships between patriotism, tradition, genocide, and a strong record of military service for governments that largely fail them.

From the War of 1812 to Afghanistan and Iraq, and every war and conflict in between, indigenous warriors have been disproportionately represented in the armed forces, making up the highest percentage per capita of any race. This in spite of the bloody history of genocide indigenous peoples have had with the Canadian and American militaries.</description>

In Geronimo, Holden depicts not only warriors from the longest of the Indian Wars, The Apache Wars, but also the ways in which the Apache are now honoured by the American military, having a helicopter named for their nation and “Geronimo” being a battle cry for paratroopers since WWII.

Dreaver celebrates war hero Chief Joseph Dreaver who also served as the chief of Mistawasis Cree Band and was a lifetime member of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians. His service taking place during WWI and WWII it was a time when indigenous peoples did not have the right to vote in the countries they lived in, and most were not legally allowed to travel from their reserves and reservations without a permit. The great irony being that all warriors who served in either world war were fighting for the “freedom” of others, while their children were being forcibly taken to residential/boarding schools and their own language and ceremonies were outlawed. Though military service at this time granted indigenous peoples the same rights as other citizens, it also meant they lost their cultural status.

The relationship between indigenous peoples and the countries they have both served for and fought against, is complex even today. Sherman Alexie has called reserves/reservations the oldest POW camps in the world, standoffs such as Oka and Wounded Knee still evoke strong emotions on either side, the Canadian government under C-51 has defined most socially conscious and politically active indigenous people as terrorists (peaceful or not), and meaningful consultation guaranteed under treaties and laws are largely ignored from Oak Flat, AZ to the Site C Dam Project in northern British Columbia. And yet, a perplexing level of patriotism and draw toward military service still exists among many people leaving them torn between two worlds. This can be seen in Holden’s signature intermingling of Canadian and American flags with traditional indigenous imagery. As Holden works through this collection he reflects on the dynamics of what patriotism means and has meant to various nations from the beginning of colonization, and where cultural identity and loyalty as warrior to one’s indigenous nation factors in, while he seeks to understand his own place as an indigenous Canadian.


View The Warriors Between Worlds Series Gallery.

Early 2016

Early works