The Sioux Project—Tatanka Oyate fills a major gap in our understanding of contemporary Sioux aesthetics in North America with a specific focus on the knowledge and practices of Lakota/Nakota/Dakota (Sioux) communities in Saskatchewan, Canada. The publication reflects over three years of on-the-ground research involving a team led by Lakota video/performance artist Dana Claxton, art historian Lynne Bell, artist Gwenda Yuzicappi, and filmmaker Cowboy Smithx. The video footage gathered over the course of multiple visits to Sioux communities across Saskatchewan formed the basis of Claxton’s four-channel video installation at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan in 2017.
Texts by Bell, Smithx, and MacKenzie Head Curator Timothy Long, as well excerpts from video interviews with community participants, speak to the community-based methodology of this research-creation project and the significance of Claxton’s installation. Densely illustrated with stills and in-situ shots of the installation, the texts offer a moving community portrait of how the traditional knowledge of elders is being actively transmitted to and translated by a generation that is as comfortable with video mashups as they are with star quilts and beadwork. Produced for academic, artistic and broader communities, the publication includes a consideration of how Sioux aesthetics have been defined by communities and artists in North America, both historically and in the contemporary period in essays by scholars Janet Catherine Berlo and Carmen Robertson, with a reprint of the work of Dr. Bea Medicine.