Chief Sʷknc̓ut Monument
2019. Bronze. The City of Kelowna Public Art Collection. Commissioned by Westbank First Nation
The Chief Sʷknc̓ut Monument was unveiled by Westbank First Nation and the City of Kelowna in a spirit of reconciliation on Indigenous Peoples Day, 2019.
The artist's research for the sculpture included text, oral, artifact, and experience-based research.
The overall gesture of the work represents the simultaneous strength and humility of the Syilx people. The Syilx culture is closely connected with the land, and powerful reciprocity is traditionally part of this. The clothing and objects are based on traditional Syilx artifacts (from the Okanagan area) as documented and collected by James A. Teit, although some pieces represent trade items.
Sen'Klip (Coyote) accompanies Sʷknc̓ut, representing the Captikwl (significant cultural legends/stories through which understanding is passed, generation to generation). The Four Food Chiefs are represented: the feminine Chief Siya (Saskatoon) is depicted on the beaded apron. Chief Black Bear is represented in the Chief's necklace. Sen'Klip brings Chief Salmon to the Okanagan on his tail, and the feminine Chief Bitterroot is by his paw.
The drum and its rope represent the circle of community and the strength of many binding together. The dentalia necklace and European-style vest represent the reality of the times (mid-1800's) as useful and/or beautiful items were traded and utilized. Other animals are depicted in pictographs on the sculptural rock form, and these are based on historical pictographs.