Colleen Cutschall

July 13, 2017 to January 4, 2018


Launch and Reception: Thursday July 13, 7:30PM


Block Party on Rosser Avenue between 7th and 8th Street

Live Music Presented by the City of Brandon's Summer Lights Music Series

The Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba is excited to announce its new public exhibition venue: the AGSM Billboard. This 12’ x 30’ billboard will display new site-specific artworks, on display for six months each. Over the next two years the billboard will feature four projects that celebrate the Indigenous presence on this land, reflecting on the shared spaces, histories, and futures where Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples come together.

The first project in this series is The Crossing, by Colleen Cutschall; celebrated Lakota artist and founder of the Brandon University Department of Visual and Aboriginal Art. The Crossing looks at the pre-history of Brandon as a site of trade and cultural exchange. At the southeastern tip of the city, sits a natural crossing for the Assiniboine river. This crossing served as a gateway for trade in the region during Canada’s early years, but also has a long history pre-dating Western settlement.

As Canada marks its 150th anniversary of confederation, and Brandon celebrates 135 years, this project looks back at our pre-colonial history to the people who have walked this land for time immemorial and continue to call this place home. The only border marked on Cutschall’s map is the one between Treaties 1 and 2, which join precisely at the crossing. The inclusion of these treaties remind us of the long-term relationship agreed to by settler and Indigenous peoples to share our place on this land with a respectful and welcoming spirit as long as the river flows.

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The Crossing maps the southeastern prairies in the days before Brandon. The positions of the names—Assiniboine, Dakota, Cree, Anishinabe, and Métis—do not necessarily reflect static territory, as people moved freely throughout the land before the creation of borders, and the idea that land could be owned.

The X Marks a natural crossing point in the Assiniboine River, that was at the centre of an Indigenous cultural landscape of trails, gathering areas, spiritual centres, and meeting sites on the eastern prairies. As a site of critical importance to both Indigenous and settler peoples, the crossing acted as a bridge between lands and cultures. This landmark sits at the southeastern tip of current-day Brandon, just north of the Grand Rapids of the Assiniboine, and was incorporated into the boundaries between Treaties 1 and 2. Despite this crucial historical, legal, and cultural significance, today the site is unmarked and mostly forgotten.

In this image, instead of marking settlements, cities and provincial borders, Colleen Cutschall maps the Assiniboine, Souris, and Red rivers: the treaties, and animals of this territory; and the Indigenous people who have walked this land since time immemorial.

As Canada marks its 150th Anniversary of confederation, and Brandon celebrates 135 years, Cutschall reminds us of the deep history here, and the long-term relationships and treaties we entered into with a respectful and welcoming spirit, lasting as long as the river flows.


The Treaties

Treaty No. 1 and Treaty No. 2 were the first Treaties signed between First Nations and the newly formed Dominion of Canada. Treaties provide the legal basis on which Canada is founded. They were intended to see to the well-being of both parties, allowing them to peacefully coexist side by side as sovereign nations on shared territory.

The western border between Treaties 1 and 2 is defined as a point of the west shore of Lake Manitoba that connects "thence in a straight line to the crossing of the rapids on the Assiniboine; thence due south to the international boundary line."

Treaty No. 1 was signed on August 3, 1871. A few of Canadian communities that share in the obligations and benefits of Treaty No. 1 include: Winnipeg, Portage La Prairie, Killarney, Selkirk, Steinbach, Emerson, Winkler, and many more. The First Nation communities that entered into Treaty No. 1 are: Brokenhead, Long Plain, Peguis, Roseau River, Sagkeeng, Sandy Bay, and Swan Lake.

Treaty No. 2 was signed on August 21, 1871, at Manitoba House. A few of the Canadian communities that share in obligations and benefits of Treaty No. 2 include: Brandon, Dauphin, Melita, Minnedosa, Roblin, Virden Riding Mountain National Park, Duck Mountain Provincial Park, and many more. The First Nations that entered into Treaty No. 2 are: Dauphin River, Ebb & Flow, Keeseekoowenin, Lake St. Martin, Lake Manitoba, Little Saskatchewan, O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi, Pinaymootang, and Skownan.

Many Indigenous individuals who have walked this land—past and present—are not represented by the treaties.

About this billboard

The AGSM Billboard is a new exhibition space for the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba. Every Six months, from July 2017 - June 2019, the AGSM Billboard will showcase a new image created by an Indigenous artist that celebrate the presence and importance of Indigenous culture to Brandon and the Westman region—in the past, present, and future.

The Artist

Colleen Cutschall is a senior Oglala-Sicangu Lakota artist originally from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. For over twenty years, she had been working and living in Southwestern Manitoba as an artist, art historian, educator and curator. Cutschall, is Professor Emerita from Brandon University, Brandon, Manitoba, where she was instrumental in the establishment of its current Visual and Aboriginal Art program.