Lii Michif, 2021

Submitted by: Lisa Shepherd, Métis Artist

Materials: velveteen, glass beads, ribbon, cotton lining, tin cones, hand-tied tassels. Lii Michif was commissioned by Museum Natur und Mensch, Germany

I want you to see the movement of the lines and hear in them the sound of the fiddle and the muffled horse-cantered step sound of the moccasins on the wood floor. I want you to know the connection of this to the buffalo runner horses and the fiddler on the prairie plains, practicing for the great buffalo hunt, and to realize that this is where the RCMP got the idea for their Musical Ride.

I want you to see the blue of the ribbons and to know they go with the tan leathery wrinkles of my grandmother’s face and her striking blue eyes that would stop you in your tracks. The Blue Eyed Grandmother, with her full, aproned belly that cradled many babies lovingly; brought life from spirit through water and to this world. She had skillful hands that pulled thread through fabric and beads, outfitting the entire big family out of necessity. After Grandpa passed, she drove the Team for the trading company, steadying the horse on the ferry that pulled away too soon, she in the cart, bobbing along on the North Saskatchewan River.

I want you to see this mask that, rather than hiding my face, exposes my identity, and wonder about the stories that Great Auntie told me, in trade for a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Years later, whenever I pass a KFC, it’s my heart that smells those spices first. Auntie kept our stories, and in her 90+ years was still quick as a whip and could recall all the birthdates and death dates and all the life in between the two. Those stories are for me, and my family, and if you are dear to me, I might share a few.

I share these stories through my beadwork, and hope they inspire you to embrace your own authentic stories that are personal to you.

Lii Michif was created in British Columbia, Canada, by commission for the Museum Natur und Mensch, Germany