Wasicuwajina is my Great-Grandfather. He was also known as Tom Whiteman. He was a Holy man of the great Sioux Nation, he lived on Earth during the time when colonization of the Great Plains tried to eradicate every aspect of his culture. Despite this, he managed to maintain and follow the Dakota way of life that was passed down to him by our ancestors. My Late Father once told me he remembered the old man having a ceremony at his house and him and his brother my late uncle, Louis, had to sit outside and let them know if anyone was coming because it was against the law. They lived with Tom because their Dad died from Tuberculosis. They lived with him until they were taken away and made to go to residential school in Lebret, Saskatchewan.
Honouring the old people is an idea that has been engraved in me since before I can remember. In my culture, showing honour and respect to elders is of great importance. The few grainy images from family photographs help to place visual entity to the people of my ancestry. I drew this portrait from one of those photos. By drawing my Great-Grandfather I feel as though he is now more familiar.
I chose to use black charcoal for this portrait because I appreciate that it is a product of the earth and along with its nature of rich, dark blacks and shades of gray, I found a balance in the connectedness of the subject matter, the land and myself.