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Sculpture Indigenous artist

Buffalo Mountain

Stewart Steinhauer // 2001

Tubby Bateman Park

When the Rock Grandfather saw that the great herds of buffalo were going to be destroyed, He opened a hole in the mountains, leading to another dimension, similar to this one, but safely separated from our time and place. There, the last of the great herds passed through the hole in the mountains to await a time of safe return.

Buffalo Mountain is a reminder, a message to the future to remember, that what humans did to the buffalo herds we may easily do to the entire planet, our beautiful mother earth.

The sculpture is made of rock, representing the Rock Grandfather, a Cree spiritual being charged by the Creator with helping fragile humans with communication, which is why we use stone for our spiritual pipe bowls. The tobacco we used made a spiritual pathway, when burned, for the meaning of our words to travel on, when we prayed with the pipe. The wood from the tree, made into a pipe stem, represents honesty, one of the four sweetgrass teachings; when the bowl and the stem are joined, smudged with sweetgrass, and loaded with tobacco, then humans are ready to speak honestly with the Great Mystery.

The centre rock is carved into a representation of a buffalo, for the great herds — our general corner store of days gone by — and also representing the mountains, particularly the mountain with the hole through it, leading to a safe place. Around the centrepiece stands a ring of 13 boulders, representing the 13 moons” in the Cree calendar. The 13 boulders you see in Tubby Bateman Park, as well as the Buffalo Mountain boulder, are all collected off of the landscape at Saddle Lake Cree Nation.

The hole in the buffalo mountain sculpture was cut through by hand, a task I will never again undertake. It was weeks of physical torture, but an important lesson for me as an emerging granite sculptor.

In hindsight, I recognize that my Rock Grandfather was working with me, training me in acquiring the endurance necessary to work with granite. In the sweetgrass teachings, the sweetgrass represents humble kindness, a spiritual love, the animals represent sharing, the tree represents honesty, and the rock represents determination, inner strength. My Rock Grandfather has gifted me with the inner strength necessary to survive in a very difficult situation, and to even thrive, finding the positive things in the midst of a situation that meets all five definitions found in the UN Convention on Genocide. 

My Elders taught me that to solve problems I needed to place my creative energy and attention upon the positive solutions, while avoiding giving any energy to the negativity of the problem. That’s hard to do when you are trapped in a tough spot, but at least with Buffalo Mountain, I gave it my best shot. – Stewart Steinhauer

Tubby Bateman Park