APTN National News
After a week of being criticized for not consulting Indigenous communities over the controversial art exhibit called the Bowfort Towers, Calgary’s mayor says a Blackfoot knowledge keeper guided the project.
The $500,000 exhibit by New York artists Del Geist has raised the ire of some in the Blackfoot community because the installation bears a striking resemblance to traditional burial towers.
But Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the Blackfoot community was consulted.
“There was not just a traditional knowledge keeper – but a particularly skilled traditional knowledge keeper whose expertise is in the field of Blackfoot archaeology and symbolism who has been consulted on this particular project,” said Nenshi.
“The city followed the Indigenous policy consultation to a ‘T’.”
But Nenshi said he can’t share who the city consulted with because he doesn’t have permission from the elder to release the information.
Blackfoot artist Adrian Stimson said the city should reveal who it consulted.
“It is a public commission and it is a public committee,” said Stimson. “So I don’t understand why the secrecy. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t come forward and give their opinion.”
Nenshi said that the criticism the art has been receiving is unfair and compared it to a lynch mob.
But the Tsuu T’ina Nation wants the Bower Towers torn down.
“Take it down, redo it,” said Kevin Littlelight, spokesperson for the Tsuu T’ina Nation. “It’s not doing any favours to anybody and it’s not what Calgarians deserve.
“It certainly does not emulate anything of Plains Indian culture or Blackfoot culture for that matter.”