A TOUCH OF HOPE
Yamalot Heelah Shlahlee – Shining Raven Woman
1 tonne of Canadian Labradorite Granite
Life size kneeling Salish Woman
19 months continuous labour
(over 4200 hours) hand chiselled and oilstone rubbed without the use of a pencil, drawing or model
1 gallon of Macadamia nut oil
My sculpture depicts the positive beauty and healing energy of our Salish First Nations culture.
Since thousands of years the Salish People have used and created smaller ceremonial stone sculptures representing a kneeling or sitting human holding a bowl on their laps. Often animal Totems were a part of the depiction to invoke that particular entity to help towards the blessing. In the past on the ancient figurines a snake or otter or some other image was used but being myself of the Salish “River People” I have shaped her blanket in a reverent depiction of fluid flowing waves giving honour to the many rivers, lakes and ocean of our Salish Mountains and Coast which have blessed and nourished us since millennia. Also I have chosen the Shining Raven = Yamalot Heelah medicine as my chosen spirit totem being placed upon the front of the bowl because of its particular all encompassing compassion towards alleviating the suffering of humanity, especially that of Earth’s children.
I acknowledge and honour the medicine and totems of the past but my Elders have always told me to follow what is in my heart and we now live in a very changed world which requires, perhaps for some of us, a different medicine than what we required in times gone by.
My knowledge of the use of these blessing bowl sculptures I received from my Great Auntie Rosaleen George. She was a very valued Elder of the Stah-Lo (Stó:lō) Nation Salish People in Chilliwack B.C. In the end of the 1990’s and onward she came to my home in the Fraser Valley, Canada when my children were newly born babies and blessed them with a special sacred oil in a bowl for a healthy and good life. She told me stories of the past ceremonial use of our Blessing Bowls and how they were depicted.
In honour of her spirit and life and of the many valuable stories she shared with me I pay homage to her with this sculpture. Without her showing and telling me what she knew I would have never brought into this world once again one of our Salish Speaking Stone People.
She, in her very gentle Salish way, suggested to me that if one day I would actually get the chance to sculpt such a figure I need not rigorously follow the ancient imagery or the past medicine used by our ancestors and perhaps portray one of our knowledgeable Grandmothers not as an old lady but rather as she looked when she was young and vibrant. I have listened to her subtle suggestion and strove to represent the fine and wonderful attributes of our Salish ancestors and culture. The Canadian Labradorite that I have used is literally billions of years old (Pre-Cambrian) so I have positively transformed a very old Lady into a very young countenance and appearance compared to her true age. I have also expressed in my work the beauty of our traditional Salish blankets by the figure’s robe and her depicted abalone shell headdress still used and created today. My work is a product of Salish Pride encompassing our ancient symbolism and patiently honouring the proper use of time as my ancestors did while still loving my vocation daily. In accordance with these maxims I have endeavoured to create this stone symbol of goodness and beauty to help others attain a beneficial life blessing through the example of healthy thoughts and spiritual faith and unity as we have humbly followed here in our Salish Homeland since thousands of years.
David Seven Deers May 1st 2020
Shining Raven Woman's personal name is Ikasha and means
I = Good and Beautiful
KA = Water or Spirit of water
SHA = Place
The place of good (Sweet) water
The Water Spring or the Source in
A Pacific North-West Salish dialect
Confluence of the Granby and Kettle rivers in Grand Forks, BC Canada
Photo Peter Kalasz
Shining Raven Woman’s Tamuchx Lalam = Earth Lodge
In a unanimous ‘yes’, the City of Grand Forks voted to situate Ikasha’s home by the confluence of our two rivers as a place of cultural significance, and secured this parkland for the wondrous structure: to become a gathering place of joy and warmth for people from all over the world, no matter who they are and where they come from. The City and team have plans to develop the adjacent grounds further in recognition and support of Ikasha's legacy and to honour First Nations People and their ancestors whose sacred land and vibrant culture she represents.
TAMUCHX LALAM ~ EARTH LODGE
Where Two Rivers Meet
A living and breathing earth lodge, Ikasha’s home will be a visiting place for people from all over the world to come and be touched by her powerful message of hope, unity and beauty: a cared-for space of warmth, peace and love for people to fill their hearts with hope. The earth lodge will be a living connection to Salish First Nations culture, and a nurturing reminder to discover a future of peace, harmony and love for all humanity—a legacy for generations to come.
The choice of location where the two rivers meet is not accidental. When two rivers join they create an even more powerful life-giving force, and so it is with humankind: we can strengthen and nurture each-other in our shared humanity. All are welcome to enjoy, learn, honour, experience and share the ancient wisdom Shining Raven Woman so generously gives to everyone, made possible by the equally generous and tireless work of the artist.
The interior of the dome will be adorned with bespoke, state-of-the-art glass tile designed specifically for the project by a studio of artisans. Copper inlay artwork, created by David Seven Deers himself, will grace the walls of the dome telling Salish tales of creation.
Emerging from the Spectrolite stone floor, Ikasha will shimmer under a glass oculus, welcoming all to spend time with her. Her Salish stories will touch the hearts of those who will listen.
Ikasha’s Tamuchx Lalam - Earth Lodge will also serve as a space of learning and reconciliation. It will become a gathering place of exploration and curiosity. Imagine a group of children filling the luminous dome with laughter as they come together to unite and learn.
OPEN DOORS BECKONING IN KINDNESS AND FRIENDSHIP
WE INVITE YOU TO CREATE BEAUTY TOGETHER