When colleagues came together to create the new Founders’ Square as a way of commemorating Lethbridge College’s 60th anniversary, they knew they wanted to find ways to tell the story of the land where the college now sits while showcasing the institution’s lasting legacy. One essential way to tell that story is to connect it to the land’s Indigenous history.
So the college commissioned Kainai artist Api’soomaahka (Running Coyote) William Singer III to create a special painting to mark the occasion. Using a traditional buffalo hide design, Singer’s art, titled Ikaitapiitsinikssini, or the telling of old stories of our forefathers, tells the story of how Indigenous people have adapted to a new way of life and uses traditional symbols to show the pursuit of education.
“The piece actually starts on the outside of the hide, the universe, home of the seven brothers and the moon and sun,” Singer explained in his artist notes. “…You can see the dipper, the seven brothers, who are out of reach from their mother and the Pleiades cluster showing the lost children. Within the hide, the creation of the Oldman River is told…, reflecting knowledge and our connection to nature as it was our first ‘school.’
“The eagle symbolizes strength, power and is a helper of the Great Spirit who we are connected with. …Young people are depicted within the system to seek higher knowledge. Lifelong learning is shown at the bottom of the hide and shows a trail coming from the left and meeting a Blackfoot couple, the first family. At the bottom you see a morning star referring to the story of the woman who married the morning star, and the celestial connection of the Blackfoot worldview that we are all made of stars.”
The painting can be viewed in Founders’ Square, just outside the Food Court.