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Item Name: Painting
Title: Dancing Teepee Women
Maker: Leah Dorion
Year: 2013
Country: Canadian
Materials: acrylic paint; canvas
Measurements: overall: 30 in x 48 in
ID Number: PC2015.6

Extended Label Info: In Leah Dorion’s painting, two women celebrate the traditional tepee raising ceremony, intended to bless the home and provide spiritual protection for all the family members who reside within it. The women’s prayers are received by a giant spirit bird, who blesses the women as they dance. The Tepee Teachings are an important component of Indigenous women’s cultural knowledge. First Nations’ Elders emphasize that the tepee is symbolic of a woman reaching up to the Creator; its covering representing her skirt, shawl, or dress. The outer poles are referred to as her arms and the front willow stick ties holding the tepee together are her ribs. Each pole of the tepee is associated with teachings for good living that help transfer cultural knowledge to family members. Dorion’s work is embedded with many recognizable cultural symbols; the Medicine Wheel and the Eagle Feather emphasizing the values of Indigenous people. The tepee itself is an iconic symbol of many prairie First Nations cultural groups. As a Métis artist with First Nations cultural heritage, Dorion’s painting has a distinct Métis style, reflected in the crazy quilt door covering on the tepee, the patterns and designs used throughout and the application of paint, which is reminiscent of beadwork. Leah Marie Dorion (1970 - ) is an Indigenous (Métis) interdisciplinary artist living in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada. She is a self-taught, and credits her creative family for inspiring her to take up painting and the traditional Métis arts. Dorion is also a teacher, published author, and storyteller. Her work pays homage to women, Earth-based spirituality, and Indigenous knowledge.