Adrian Stimson's bison paintings force viewers to reckon with Canada's colonial history | CBC News
May 20, 2022 1 min, 39 secs

Variations of this image appear over and over again in Alberta Indigenous artist Adrian Stimson's first solo European exhibit, which opened in London, England, on May 16. .

Stimson said he hoped his collection, entitled Manifest Buffalo: A Bison Dream, would create a space for people to engage in conversations about Canada's dark history with Indigenous people. .

But that doesn't mean that we should forget what happened, because when we forget what happens … it will continue to happen," said the 58-year-old Stimson, a member of the Siksika First Nation, who spoke to CBC on the night of the opening. .

In 36 paintings created especially for the exhibition, Stimson reimagines the bison in a variety of scenes: sharing the canvas with a nuclear explosion; fenced in by a pipeline; and a calf playfully leaping through the air, an oil rig in the background.

The historical and cultural significance of the bison to First Nations is a major part of why the animal features so prominently in his dossier, Stimson said. .

"Every time I paint a bison, it's a memory of one of those slaughtered," said Stimson.

At the exhibit opening, Stimson welcomed attendees in the Blackfoot language and wore his traditional headdress as a means of bringing his ancestors and descendants into the room, he said.

Manifest Buffalo: A Bison Dream is opening the same week that other members of Stimson's nation are travelling to a museum in Exeter, in southwestern England, to repatriate several items belonging to Crowfoot, a late-nineteenth-century Blackfoot leader.

Stimson himself was invited to participate. As a former president of the First Nations Confederacy Culture Education Centres, Stimson said he "forwarded a lot of legislation" on the repatriation of historical artifacts?

The artist said that in "bringing the herd" to London, the bison has once again become a means of survival, stirring painful memories of colonization and teaching the world about the resilience of his people.

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