By Tawnya Plain Eagle
Piikani musician gave a presentation yesterday at the Galt Museum on his exhibit titled Piikanikoan: Living under a Blackfoot Sky: A Modern Winter Count.
Artist Ira Provost delves into the significance of Blackfoot music, its origins and its influence it has on his life story.
“I really value the art of music, and how people can use it to change and understand the various ways of storytelling,” Provost said.
A year ago, the Galt Museum reached out to Provost and asked if he could put together an exhibit for their museum.
“What I did was create a winter count that highlights my music journey and involve my culture and my family,” he said.
“I really acknowledge my heritage in this exhibit.”
The symbols are not displayed in a linear fashion the way symbols would be found on an original Blackfoot winter count.
Provost describes the winter count and the symbols displayed as a thematic presentation of his experience as a musician.
From that winter count, he took five important subjects and created individual panels that provides a deeper look into his own story from the winter count.
The panels are accompanied by his own song lyrics and a QR code to listen to a recorded version of that song.
“The music certainly expresses a way of teaching,” he said.
“Singing of songs is more than just entertainment, it’s also a part of who we are,” Ira explains
Through some research, Provost found that the music we still enjoy today was originally invented by Indigenous people.
“We know this now because historians will tell you popular music came from Jazz and Blues music, but it was the blues music mimicked Indigenous tribes [near New Orleans] ‘call and response’ way of singing.”
“They sing a lead, then the group picks it up – that’s a call and response,” he added.
Provost adds that many people aren’t aware of this knowledge.
“To be able to participate in this is my way of showing that passion,” Provost said.
The exhibit will be available for viewing until February 2021.