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Indigenous Arts & Stories - Assiniboine Girl

Assiniboine Girl

2014 - Art Winner

Hillary Ryder

Regina, SK
White Bear
Age 18

Author's Statement

My painting is of an Assiniboine girl in a fabric dress with a studded leather belt. I decided to paint her to represent my tribe and show how real Aboriginal girls used look like. Not all Aboriginal girls dressed the same and all tribes dress differently. Underneath the paint I used gold leaf on the Assiniboine girl's dress so she glows more. The gold leaf represents how "golden" and important Aboriginal women are.

There's a big issue about of how Aboriginal people are portrayed wearing buckskin, headdresses, and feathers. Even many non-Aboriginals are seen wearing Aboriginal clothing that is meant to be honoured and respected. Everybody needs to understand that all Native American tribes are different and we don't all dress the same and women don't wear headdresses. Recently, the University of Regina cheerleaders had a "cowboys and Indians" theme and took photos of a "battle scene" which sparked outrage. Of course, they were dressed up in headbands, feathers, and fake animal skin dresses. This resulted in them undergoing a cultural sensitivity training. Cultural appropriation is still a big problem and people need to be educated on it. In my painting I want to prove that Aboriginal women don't look like the stereotypical "Pocahontas" which is often seen sexualized in fashion magazines and runways. Missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada is also a big issue today that is related to the stereotyping of Aboriginal women. Recently more Indigenous women in Canada are going missing and unfortunately, found murdered. There are over eight hundred cases of missing and murdered sisters. According to Canadian government data, Aboriginal women are three times more likely to be a target of violence than non-Aboriginal women. We are denied the dignity and worth by the sexist and racist stereotypes which some men are encouraged to think they can get away with violent acts of hatred against us. Aboriginal women deserve to be treated with respect and not be stereotyped.