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ᐊᒐᐦᑯᐢ ᐅᐦᒋ ᐸᐧᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ
acahkos ohchi pwatamowin
a dream from the stars
“Our Elders believe that what is above is mirrored below, and this is our connection with misewa (all that is). Nêhiyaw (Cree) cosmology states that we are the Star People.”
- Wilfred Buck
The exhibition “acahkos ohchi pwatamowin” and the works contained within are an exploration of nêhiyaw cosmology and worldview through star constellation stories and knowledge. First inspired by an interview with respected nêhiyawêwin (Cree language) teacher Reuben Quinn, where I was told that the syllabics system used to write our language comes from the stars, I’ve been learning as much as possible from Elders and knowledge-keepers about acahkos, the stars. The work of Ininew astronomer and educator Wilfred Buck has also helped to inform and inspire my research.
Through interviews and close observations of the night sky, I have created works that represent four constellations of significant importance to nêhiyawak (Cree people). Sîsîkwan (the rattle), Niska (the goose), Atima Acahkosak (the dog stars) and Mista Muskwa (the great bear). Presented in this exhibition are ceramic sculptures, caribou-hair tufting, and a sound piece created in collaboration with musician Matthew Cardinal.
I want to extend a special thanks to those I interviewed and spoke to about this project. John Bigstone, Jackie Ballantyne, George Desjarlais, Reuben Quinn, Jerry & Jo Ann Saddleback, and Wilfred Buck all contributed to this research and work and for that I am forever grateful. This project has been generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Eli Hirtle is a nêhiyaw(Cree) & settler filmmaker, interdisciplinaryl artist, and curator based on Lekwungen Territory in Victoria, BC, Canada. His practice involves making films about Indigenous cultural resurgence and language revitalization, as well as investigating his nêhiyaw identity through beadwork. Current areas of interest are learning how to speak his ancestral language of nêhiyawêwin, mentoring emerging Indigenous artists, and studying nêhiyaw star constellation stories.
The fifty fifty arts collective is comprised of individuals living and working on unceded and occupied First Nations Territories, specifically the lands of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, as well as the W̱SÁNEĆ, Sc'ianew and T'Souke First Nations.
The programming space itself is situated on Songhees and Esquimalt Territory but engages with individuals and communities across Turtle Island.
As a collective we endeavour to deepen our own understandings of how we are implicated in the history and in the present ongoing project of settler colonialism. As members of the fifty fifty arts collective we continually responsibilize ourselves to the complex kind of space that is the fifty fifty which hosts and facilitates the dissemination of the ideas and work of others.
The entrance to the fifty fifty arts collective is wheelchair accessible, however, the door is not automatic and we have no washrooms on site. A more comprehensive statement regarding our accessibility is in progress, specific questions or requests regarding accessibility can be sent to [email protected]
Funded by CRD feed the arts.