Katie Dewitt

I received this email from Katie Dewitt of Calgary who had some questions for her grade 7 Social Studies Program

"I know you probably don't care, but I'm Katie (Kat) DeWitt. I chose you and your art to study in Social studies. i think your art is the most beautiful aboriginal art I have ever seen. I love your style, and how you know it's your art, just by looking at it. If you can, I'd like you yo answer a couple of questions for me:

What drove you to choose the style of art that you do?
What is the aboriginal group you are most proud of being a descendant of?

Thank you for looking at this e-mail, and thank you for being such an inspiration.

~Kat DeWitt"

Hi Kat

...and I know I most definitely do care that you chose my art to study in your *'WOW'* Social Studies Class. A lot of people study my work but never yet for Social Studies. Universities have studied my work for Dissertations and for Native Study Courses. And most recently whole art grades from several School's in Richmond Hill Art Curriculum are studying my work for their Canadian Artist segment in their Art curriculum. So YES I'm impressed and thank you for your wonderful words of honour for my work. I would like to know, what grade you are in and what school you go to or if that's too personal in this day in age, how bout, what province, state or country you're from. I always love to know who and where is studying my work. Ok then, down to brass tax.

What drove me to choose the style of art that I do?

~ Well suffice it to say that this style is unique and one of my own invention. I don't believe you will find another artist who works on wood in this manner, in this way, by using the grains of wood to depict the subject, the object, the meaning from a subconscious realm of placement of interaction between the spirit of the wood and my spirit. This whole process is one of healing as it reaches inside to find trust and I found it in a reaching way. For I was tired of painting mainstream meaningless art that looks pretty but says very little; like a fruitscape per se. And then the second thing that inspired me was finding my heritage by an Uncle who we never knew existed. My mother's brother, adopted at the age of two, found us and delivered to us from his reaching into finding where his roots were, ours. This Aboriginal finding inspired me because from a very early age I always felt I was Native from a Grandmother who hid this knowledge but only hinted at it various times growing up, saying how good the native people were, but earlier times found many Native parents hiding who they were to protect their children from ridicule. Racism is what sent a lot of children into ignorance of their true roots, only later discovering and then retracing their footsteps back to their beginnings, teachings and culture.
An Ojibwe Prophecy talks about this called "The Seventh Fire". We have come through six fires and now this Seventh one is coming true for many Native peoples.

What Aboriginal Group am I most proud of being a descendant of?

~ That question is hard because I can't choose favourites without dividing myself up. I am a non-status mixed blood. Self determination is a very important issue among the Native community because for a long time we hid and then a long time we were told who we were to become by such laws as Bill C31 where 2 generations would be deciding your blood. We are mostly a Maternal society that had to change into a Paternal Society to be the same as the ones who would take over our lives, our children, our culture and our tongue. This and the Scrip taking in the late 18 century would see starving Native peoples give up their heritage so they could eat or have some of the land that was taken. If they signed a scrip then they would get either a few hundred dollars which was a lot of money back then, or a few acres. Assimilation was the mandate. So I don't like to divide up who I am and I am a proud descendant of my Sioux, Cree, Chipiwyan, Montagnais, Ojibwe, Oji-Cree and Assinaboine as well as French Irish and English. I am non-status because of the scrip taking and Bill C31. Below I've listed a link where I found many of my ancestors signatures on these scrips.

Library and Archives Canada

So Again, I want to thank you for choosing my work and me for your studies. Please let me know again where you're from and what grade and a little about the course as well. I keep this information in a Student Studies File which also aids in my work. Good luck with your work.

In Peace,
LauraLee K. Harris