This sculpture, Sweetgrass Bear, is in the concourse of the downtown campus of the University of Alberta, Enterprise Square. It was created by Stewart Steinhauer and is a smaller version of a Sweetgrass Bear that is in the University’s North Campus Quad.
The descriptive plaque includes these words:
The Keeper of the lands stands on the laws of creation: love, honesty, sharing, strength.
The University of Alberta Museum News website, October 2017, says:
The University of Alberta respectfully acknowledges that we are located on Treaty 6 territory, a traditional gathering place for diverse Indigenous peoples including the Cree, Blackfoot, Metis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway/ Saulteaux/Anishinaabe, Inuit, and many others whose histories, languages, and cultures continue to influence our vibrant community. . . .
Steinhauer, is an Indigenous granite carver from Saddle Lake Cree Nation in north-east Alberta. He believes he works as an assistant to a Cree cultural entity, a force called the Rock Grandfather, who lives in the skin on Mother Earth.
“The Rock Grandfather’s role in this world is to help fragile humanity with the process of communication,” wrote Steinhauer. “Humans struggle with communication. The Rock Grandfather uses a non-linguistic approach to communication, speaking directly, consciousness to consciousness, bypassing language altogether.”
I loved seeing this sculpture recently, and now that I have read more about the artist’s inspiration, I view it with even more appreciation. The perception that the Rock Grandfather bypasses language has given me a lot to think about.