Her dress blowing in the wind, her one foot up ready to take the next step forward, her long hair draped across her chest- it is impossible not to be moved when you look at Benjamin Victor’s statue of a First Nations woman titled Our Heritage is Our Future. Victor created the image to represent the women of the First Nations People of the Great Basin area of the United States. This includes the Shoshone, Paiute and Ute nations.
I’ve made two visits to Altona’s Gallery in the Park recently with two different sets of friends and both times we’ve been drawn to this sculpture donated to the park’s permanent collection by Hilda and Elmer Hildebrand.
The woman is dressed in clothing and shoes she no doubt made herself. She is carrying water in her arms, carrying her child on her back and from the look on her face carrying other burdens as well. I think the statue is representative of women throughout history strong, nurturing, hard-working and often the ones who most keenly feel the weight of oppression and sorrow. It’s a depiction of a woman so beautiful her image touches you and stays with you long after you’ve left her.