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Indigenous Arts & Stories - The Bourke's

The Bourke's

2012 - Art Winner

Melanie Jewell

Fort Smith, NT
Fort Smith
Age 24

Author's Statement

The Bourke’s are a strong traditional Aboriginal family originally from Fort Fitzgerald, Alberta, which is 16 miles south of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. This drawing represents a time in the 1960s when they raised their family on the land. Welfare, or Income Support was unheard of therefore, they did not hunt for sport but for mere survival. To this day they proudly use their traditional knowledge to pass on to their grandchildren. The two daughters are proudly holding their guns to show that even at a young age they can still contribute to their families’ basic survival. The father stands tall and proud knowing that his family is well taken care of all being healthy and happy. The mother holds a pelt of a wolf, which would be used for making clothing for the long cold winter ahead. In the winter the temperature dips to -40 below and it is considered normal in the 1960's. They wear the furs to help them face the harsh winters.

The Bourke’s until recently continue to still go out on the land to hunt and trap. Their children continue the tradition and the culture of hunting resources from the land. Sharing is an important value in our Aboriginal culture. They share their game with their immediate family and elders. They have taught their children to pass on this valuable knowledge to their children. This drawing represents Aboriginals who fought through hardships and lived traditionally off the land. Aboriginal people’s have much respect for the land and love their family very much. They practice their values of sharing with each other and show compassion along with understanding of one another in a loving way.