For some years now, Joseph Tisiga has revisited Native iconography in paintings where two worlds – First Nations and Western – coexist and interact. It was this reality that led him to invent the Indian Brand Corporation, a fictional company that fuses the (Indigenous) values of respect for ancestral land with the (non-Indigenous) exploitation of natural resources. This painting opens a door to the artist’s imaginary world through the figure of Red Chief, whose name alludes to the disparaging and once commonly used term “redskin.” Seated at a campfire, the chief appears to be in conversation with the ghost of an ancestor. The apparition wears a traditional feather headdress, while the chief sports a top hat and Western clothes. The juxtaposition of different cultural codes illustrates the dislocation of First Nations peoples, caught between two worlds. J. B.

Historical Vignette