Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Is it OKAY if we share information with others about our ceremonies?"

~ Voice of the Anishinaabe (Simone McLeod)

"Sleeping Medicine People", acrylic on canvas
© 2014 Simone McLeod /Click on image to Enlarge/
~ For additional info about this painting click HERE

The following is statement of the Anishinaabe/Canadian painter Ms. Simone McLeod, previously published on Facebook:
"Not the first time I have heard this question. I like to look at the life of Norval Morrisseau when someone asks. In my travels East, I was astounded and dismayed at how many of my people did not even know who Morrisseau was. I think that our "elders" should at least know him. After all, was he not the first aboriginal artist who began to paint our sacred ceremonies and sacred teachings?

I recall when I was younger, how superstitious our people were about mentioning anything that had to do with ceremony. I do not sit here and mock them. I am in total understanding. It was not long ago that our people were "savagely murdered" for showing anything historically traditional about who we were. This is where our fear was born.

It was the Church who further instilled the doctrine of "savage" on our people then, and it is still happening today. It is most unfortunate that it is now Us, as a direct result of the first waves of Indian Residential School Survivors who begin to lead our next generations of "elders" and "healers" with the initial infection of "replaced religion" silently veiled behind many of our intentions. The bigger question we must ask ourselves today is "Is it really alright to allow an outside religion to determine how we address the Grandfathers in ceremony simply because that is what survivors feel most comfortable with?" I think the answer is No. I do not know of any Church who would invite a Spiritual Advisor/Healer into the flock just to make some feel better. But that is getting off my point.

When Morrisseau received his vision to paint his subject matter, I am not sure if he was fully aware of how many lives he would change. I do not even think he understood what a gift he would be giving back to his Anishinaabe people. Or how, from that day on to forever, how his work began a strong and powerful "documentation process" which causes curiosity to grow, not only in the hearts and souls of his people, but also caused true adoration and feelings of curious respect for all our people, to grow in the hearts of non-natives.

I remember when I began to grow in my career as an artist, in the beginning a few said "women are not supposed to paint!" Or "this is a man’s job!" I knew they were making references to my nerve at having the audacity to try and take my place beside men who apparently reserved the right to share our traditional ways through art. It is like this in ceremony today. Mostly in the Plains regions. As I travelled East, male attitudes towards females exhibited our traditional respect towards the women in our communities. Whereas on the plains we often get chastised for being "dirty" when we are on moon time etc. makes me wonder if perhaps first contact or control of our people began on the plains. Sometimes I cannot help but wonder if the males on the plains are offended that we even have the right to vote!

I often sit and wonder if Morrisseau felt ostracized for his needs to create images that were and are invaluable to our people today. When it comes to artists and ceremony, I feel it is important to acknowledge his contribution to igniting the traditional fires that beat in many of our hearts today. He ignited mine, causing memory to stir. I paint in the hopes that I too will ignite traditional fires in my people. Our ceremonies were never hidden in the context we have been led to believe. They had to go underground so we could survive as a people. The time to share is upon us! At times when so many of our young people have never even left urban areas, this social media gives all of us a chance to reach out and guide them home if that is what they want. We cannot hide any longer.

Miigwech and thanks for reading."

Simone McLeod Blog
Artwork by Simone McLeod /Facebook/

* The above statement by Ms. McLeod was approved for posting on this platform.

>>> Reference posts:
- Norval Morrisseau a.k.a. Copper Thunderbird,
- Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part I) /Carl Ray/
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part II) /Daphne Odjig/
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part III) /Benjamin Chee Chee/
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part IV) /Jackson Beardy/
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part V) /Joshim Kakegamic/
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part VI) /Roy Thomas/
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part VII) /Arthur Shilling/
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part VIII) /Alex Janvier/
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part IX) /Eddy Cobiness/
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part X) /Martin Panamick/
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XI) /James A. Simon - MISHIBINIJIMA/,
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XII) /Carl Beam/,
- Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XIII) /Norman Knott/,
- Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XIV) /Clemence Wescoupe/,
- Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XV) /Cecil Youngfox/,
- Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XVI) /Goyce Kakegamic/,
- Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XVII) /Leland Bell BEBAMINOJMAT/,
- Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XVIII) /Ahmoo Angeconeb,
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XIX) /Saul Williams/,
- Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XX) /Francis Kagige/,
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XXI) /Isaac Bignell/
Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XXII) /Blake Debassige/ &
- Great Anishinaabe/Woodland Artists (Part XXIII) /Joseph Sanchez/.

1 comment:

Robin Tinney said...

Well spoken Ms. McLeod
Our ceremonies reflect us, and we should not be afraid to show who we really are. Sharing will not diminish us, instead it will help us to grow and teach our own. Allowing others to better understand us is indeed an act of faith.
Secrets are almost always things of shame and fear.