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Landscape Paintings

Katoyissiksi/ Sweet Pine Hills
Oil on canvas, 2020

St. Mary Damn
Oil on canvas, 2020

St. Mary River
Oil on canvas, 2020

Milk River Valley
Oil on canvas, 2020

The paintings above were completed during my last year of study at the University of Lethbridge. Researching the history of the land in Southern Alberta through texts, past news articles, photographic collections, and travels to local historic sites and Provincial Parks, I was able to gain a greater understanding of the land I was living on. Through the act of painting these places, I was able to reflect on their histories as sites of spiritual, cultural, environmental, and political importance. 

All of the locations depicted in this series of paintings are part of the lands traditionally belonging to the people of the Niitsítapi/ Blackfoot Confederacy. Before European colonization, Niitsítapi territory stretched from the north Saskatchewan river down south to the Yellowstone river, and from the mountains in the west to the sand hills in the east. For thousands of years the Niitsítapi lived here, along with people of the Iyarhe Nakoda/ Stoney Nakoda, Tsuut'ina, and Nêhiyaw-Askiy/ Plains Cree nations.


During the last two hundred years, these lands have undergone extensive change in the relationship they have with the human inhabitants. Through colonization and the creation of international borders, these lands were thoroughly divided. Katoyissiksi, known in English as the Sweet Grass Hills, are located in Montana but are visible from the site of Áísínai’pi/ Writing-On-Stone, shortly across the Canada-USA border. Both Katoyissiksi and Áísínai’pi are significant spiritual and cultural sites.

The Milk River runs through Áísínai’pi and along the north side of Katoyissiksi. The Milk River and the St. Mary River both take form within the territory of the Amskapipikani/ Blackfeet Indian Reservation in the United States, then crossing the border into Canada. The Milk River eventually turns back across the border to join the Missouri River within Montana, while the St. Mary joins the Oldman River, itself a tributary of the South Saskatchewan River. 

The St. Mary Reservoir, developed in the 1950s through the damming of the St. Mary River, borders the Kainai Nation Blood 148 Indian Reserve. It is also close to the town of Cardston, AB, which was established by Mormon settlers in the 1880s on the edge of the reserve. The Reservoir was built mainly to service agricultural irrigation needs, delivering water through canals and pipelines to over 350,000 acres of land between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, making it Canada's largest irrigation district.

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