• An Interview with Colleen Cutschall

    Colleen Cutschall is a senior artist originally from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. For over twenty years, she has been working and living in Southwest Manitoba as an artist, art historian, educator and curator. Cutschall holds a BFA from Barat College, Lake Forest, Illinois, and a MS.ED from the Black Hills State College, Spearfish, South Dakota. She has had numerous solo exhibitions that include: Voices in the Blood, a touring exhibition organized by the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, House Made of Stars, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, and …Dies Again, Urban Shaman Gallery. Cutschall has produced numerous publications and lectures on Native issues and art nationally and internationally. She recently partook in an artist – in-residence in Bellagio, Italy. Cutschall is a Professor and Chair of the Visual and Aboriginal Art Department at Brandon University, and continues to work on her artistic practice. This is an excerpt from an interview, where she shares her thoughts on art and art issues in Manitoba.

  • Aboriginal Artists Defying Expectations


    Since the mid 1960s, when Woodland School art became widely accepted, contemporary Aboriginal artists have faced many challenges their non-Aboriginal counterparts have not. From lack of resources, to limited recognition and preconceived notions, they are constantly navigating between artistic practice and cultural expectations. For establishing and established Manitoba artists Kale Bonham, Helen Madelaine, Leah Fontaine, Riel Benn and KC Adams, one recurring obstacle they face are the existing stereotypes about Aboriginal artists.

  • The Violence of the Letter

    The recent struggle over lands in southern Ontario near Caledonia points to the continuing problem with land-claims policy in Canada. This sentence could be used to begin an article every few years, only the place names change: the recent struggle at Grassy Narrows, the recent struggle at Stoney Point, the recent struggle at Oka. While there is a sense in which the current land-claims policy goes back to the beginnings of colonialism in Canada, the recent permutations are worth attention. Any understanding of contemporary conflicts needs to be informed by a strong and detailed sense of what has happened historically, as well as what is happening today.

  • Strategy for Sovereignty of the Nations of Quebec

    On November 27, the Canadian Parliament adopted a motion recognizing the existence of the Quebec nation. Quebec’s minister of intergovernmental affairs, Benoît Pelletier, expressed the hope that this recognition be translated into changes in the Canadian Constitution. He was, however, unable to specify how and, especially, when these changes might take place, given the lack of openness and political will in the ROC (Rest of Canada) to reopen constitutional negotiations. For Mr. Harper, the adoption of this motion does not entail any legal or constitutional consequences. It is undoubtedly a bit early to say whether this superficial political move will lead to any historic gains.

  • Don Cherry for Prime Minister?

    I admit to cheering (almost crying) when Tommy Douglas was announced as our Greatest Canadian on the popular CBC show. Hey, it’s gloomy times for the Left, and we take any victory we can get, no matter how small. Yet my celebrations were cut short when host Wendy Mesley conveyed the bad news: Don Cherry ranked seventh in the contest, just pipping Sir John A. and Alexander Graham Bell. I’ve always thought that the Rock’em Sock’em videos make a great contribution to nation-building, but surely they don’t surpass Confederation or the telephone?

  • Music of Oppression, Music of Resistance

    The conditions of an oppressed group’s lived experience are directly connected to the kind of resistance songs that the members of that group will produce. For example, “La Marseillaise” became the anthem of French revolutionaries in the late eighteenth century at about the same time as revolutionary Haitian slaves were gathering in the hills above Port-au-Prince to play their instruments and invoke the spirits of their ancestors.

  • New Clothes, Same Old Canadian Thinking

    There are Aboriginal lawyers, doctors, judges, professors, teachers, architects, engineers, writers, musicians, artists, politicians, corporate executives, bureaucrats. In fact, Aboriginal peoples can be found in all walks of life today. But for most Aboriginal people in Canada, descendants of the first occupants of this land, whether they live in the cities or the country, poverty is an everyday reality. In this time and place, poverty means shame, constant worry and fear.

  • Civic Nation Good, Ethnic Nation Bad

    A certain Ramsay Cook, the one who called me a “national socialist” in the late sixties, defines the ethnic nation as having “a language, history and culture that marks them out as a separate people,” while “a civic nation” has only “common civic values” (Globe & Mail, November 10, 2006). In Quebec, says Cook, many “allophones” and Anglophones don’t share the French language and culture, and only some of the history. Therefore, if the Quebec nation is deemed to have a common language, etc., that would exclude the “allophones” and anglophones.

  • The Hauntings of Colonialism

    The publicity attending a showdown in the early 1980s between logging interests and Indigenous peoples in British Columbia drew attention to the ecological ideals of the Fourth World. That showdown took place in Haida Gwaii, the legendary archipelago also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. The controversy attracted the attention of a science broadcaster who was then emerging as one of the most effective voices in the emerging global community of environmental activists. David Suzuki has described his production of a 1982 CBC documentary on the future of the Queen Charlotte Islands as a turning point in his development as a scientist, broadcaster and author. In making the film Suzuki developed lasting collaborations with a number of Aboriginal friends from the region, including Miles Richardson, Guujaaw and Patricia Kelly. As Suzuki describes it, “Guujaaw changed the way I viewed the world and sent me on a radically different course of environmentalism.”

  • Pathways to an Ethic of Struggle

    My discovery of what colonization really is took a long time in coming. It took a long time because you can’t understand the impact of these powerful forces of disconnection upon our people until you work within this system and try to make change. That’s the reason why this understanding is the sum of my own political experience, my lived experience. But it took a really intense effort over the past ten or twelve years to come to an intellectual understanding of it, and really to find a way to articulate it.

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