Shortly before he died, Plenty Coups, the last great Chief of the Crow Nation, told his story; “When the buffalo went away the hearts of my people fell to the ground,” he said, “and they could not lift them up again. After this nothing happened.” 1
Ernest Thompson Seton, naturalist, just after the turn of the century determined to estimate the number of bison in North America pre contact, he undertook a rigorous process of mathematics, logic and comparisons to domestic animals living on the plains. “Seton figured there were 75 million buffalo in North America before the white man arrived.” 2
The historical slaughter of the bison was a part of the decimation of First Nations in the Americas, a deliberate and brutal attempt to destroy not only the bison but the people who relied on the bison for sustenance. Yet both have survived and live to relate their ongoing story.
My desire in creating Bison Candy is to honour the memory of the bison and its resilience. To study and promote its return to the territories it once dominated. The history of the bison is analogous to Plains Indigenous being, in our time, the bison is still a source of inspiration, imagination and life.
Each Bison Candy honours the memory of one of those 75 Million and its resilience today. Bison Candy is an act of memory and celebration. In our time, the herds are making a come back, the bison is still a source of inspiration, imagination and life for Plains Tribes and all people.
1 Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation, Jonathan Lear internet: www.powells.com/biblio/0-9780674023291-0
2 Dary, David A. The Buffalo Book, Swallow Press; Ohio University Press 1989, pg. 29.
Adrian Stimson is a member of the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation and an interdisciplinary artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally. His paintings primarily depict bison in imagined landscapes evoking ideas of cultural fragility, resilience and nostalgia. His performance art looks at identity construction, specifically the hybridization of the
Indian, the cowboy, the shaman and Two Spirit being. His video work includes “As Above So Below”, created for “With Secrecy and Despatch,” at the Campbelltown Arts Centre, in New South Wales Australia. In 2018 Adrian was awarded the Governor General Award in Visual and Media Arts. He was awarded the Blackfoot Visual Arts Award in 2009, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003, the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005 and the REVEAL Indigenous Arts Award –Hnatyshyn Foundation in 2017. The British Museum recently acquired two of his paintings for their North American Indigenous collection.