The bison is a recurring subject for Adrian Stimson, a member of the Siksika Nation. He uses it as a symbol to represent the destruction of the Indigenous way of life: “When I think of the herds that once roamed the Plains, estimated to be seventy-five million, I mourn the slaughter of these great herds by European settlers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the impact of their near-eradication on my people and all the Plains tribes that relied on them for not only food and shelter, but [also] for . . . their spiritual presence in our daily lives.” Stimson equates the current status of bison populations with that of his people; although they came close to disappearing, their resiliency allowed them to resist and endure.
Beyond Redemption pays homage to the history of the bison and relays its importance among Indigenous peoples. Embodying survival and cultural regeneration, the taxidermied animal stands tall on a red base that signifies the destructive influence of the colonizers – government, settlers and church – willing the ten bison hides surrounding him back to life. They are draped over black crosses, a specific reference to Christianity and its nefarious impact in the history of Indigenous peoples. The number ten alludes to a children’s song from 1868 that counted down the elimination of “Indians,” implying that Indigenous lives, like those of the bison, were of no value.