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Indigenous Arts & Stories - Cross Assimilation

Cross Assimilation

2015 - Art Winner

Mary McPherson

Thunder Bay, ON
Couchiching First Nation
Age 18

Author's Statement

Struggling to Understand a Violent Past through Art

This work is both a desperate attempt to portray assimilation and cross-assimilation to the viewer, as well as my own desperate attempt to understand colonization. I wish for the viewer to understand what I see on a regular basis. The original idea for this piece was inspired mainly by the flawed education curriculum which I was subjected to. This curriculum covered up the evil works of Christianity in residential schools. However, this curriculum seemingly embraced indigenous cultural practices – an example being hosting pow-wows, which I distinctly remember being an annual event in my elementary school. I was always disturbed by the way the curriculum embraced the beautiful feathers and powerful drums yet completely denied the history of the colonization of Indigenous peoples. To me, the curriculum was teaching ignorance among my peers. I hope the viewer, when looking at this piece, can get a sense of the idea I am trying to convey. As Indigenous peoples now struggle with the past of residential schools, the white colonizer seemingly glorifies and romanticizes a culture from the past.