Indigenous Methodology and the Rock Grandfather

The following is an adapted artist statement provided by Stewart Steinhauer

The Hunter, 2016
Stewart Steinhauer
carved granite
Courtesy of the artist

This 55,000 pound sculpture is an assembly of granite sourced from around North and South America, illustrates concepts arising from Indigenous Knowledge developed across a major portion of what is now called Canada. Steinhauer, draws on his own personal experiences within the Indigenous Knowledge paradigm, referencing forces and effects not found in the Western Knowledge paradigm.

In this sculptural assembly, we see The Hunter searching for higher consciousness, who has just stumbled upon the refection of the full moon on still water. The Full Moon Grandmother, a spiritual being, reveals herself to The Hunter, while unseen, unknown by The Hunter, the Sweetgrass Bear and the Thunderbird Grandmother stand protectively nearby, guiding, nurturing, sustaining The Hunter.

This encounter will be cathartic and cause a transcendence in consciousness, a permanent expansion in knowledge, though The Hunter may not know yet what to do with the new knowledge.

The Hunter_Steinhauer

Big Bear Is Right, 2014
Stewart Steinhauer
carved granite
Courtesy of the artist

While the British colony of Canada was going through a process of becoming a somewhat independent nation, a Cree - Ojibwe man by the name of The Big Bear was trying to convince his fellow headmen to join him on his side of the approaching Treaty negotiations. He foresaw the coming disaster for Indigenous Peoples, the disaster we have now been living for that entire 150 year period, and he tried to convince his fellow headmen, through rational argument, to take a different approach to the treaty-making process. In Cree syllabics, Steinhauer has tried to re-produce The Big Bear’s comments about there being no hangman’s noose or horse’s halter or snare wire that could be placed around his neck.

The terms being offered in the Crown’s version of the treaty he saw as a trap, and compared it to snaring a fox. Christian missionaries circulating amongst Cree headmen were The Big Bear’s primary opponents, and the comments of one of them, George McDougall, for whom the McDougall United Church in downtown Edmonton is named, is included in English text. 


Big Bear is Right _Steinhauer


The Eaglechild, 2012
Stewart Steinhauer
carved granite 
Courtesy of the artist

The Eaglechild story is one of many stories meant to be seen and heard as a live performance that presents and outlines a panoramic view of Indigenous Knowledge. It is a story about a second major period of creation, beginning with near-complete annihilation of human society, followed by a re-building of human society through the effects of an intervention by the so-called spirit world, the grandmothers and grandfathers like the bear, the thunder bird, the north wind, and the sun/moon/stars.  

In the Indigenous Knowledge paradigm, Mother Earth always stands at the centre of all and everything. We fragile humans don’t exist as individual specimens of a species, nor as an isolated species above and beyond the natural world, but as a completely dependent species embedded into the vast matrix of our planetary system. The Eaglechild story uses poetic, lyrical forms to illustrate the character of our human embedded experience, our relationship with our great mother, the earth. 

In 1992, Steinhauer began working with the many themes found in the Eaglechild story, and has created a number of alternative ways to visualize the whole story, and to visualize discrete parts of the story. The Eaglechild story forms the foundation of most of Steinhauer’s mature work in granite to date.

The Eaglechild_Steinhauer