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PKI Teaching Guide

Page 7 of 36

fit this romantic ideal. A strong belief among 19th-century artists and their audiences was that the indigenous people of North America would soon die out or be totally assimilated into expanding European settlements. But while these populations were decimated by European disease and colonial ambition, they did not vanish.

The concept of the noble savage was originally popularized in the writings of thinkers like 18th-century French philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau. It was a belief during this enlightenment period that man in his natural state was noble and enviable. The trappings of civilization were believed by Rousseau and many enlightenment thinkers to be the source of corruption and immorality. Without these trappings, human kind would exhibit its true nobility and strength of character. The indigenous people of North America were an object of admiration from the perspective of this European romantic ideal.

To this day, images like Kane’s romantic oil-on-canvas painting of Kee-a-kee-ka-sa-coo-way resonate from the popular culture and elicit a variety of differing perspectives from First Nations and Métis communities.

Proceed to 2d. Hear Perspectives for activities and to examine some of these viewpoints.

2d. – Activity - Hear Perspectives

This activity contains three short videos featuring three different artists who are also commentators in the documentary. They each have a unique perspective on Paul Kane’s artwork. The user can quickly and easily switch between these to emphasize the different perspectives.


Bob Boyer (1948-2004), an artist and professor of art from First Nations University of

C a n a d a i n R e g i n a , S a s k a t c h e w a n Jane Ash Poitras, an artist from Alberta Duane Good Striker, a photographer and activist from Alberta 2. 3.

Classroom Activities:


Play Bob Boyer’s video. Ask the class to consider what Bob Boyer is saying about

material culture. What examples or what he says can the students come up with from their

own backgrounds?


Play the video with Duane Good Striker and ask the class to consider his point of view.

What are some stereotypes in mainstream culture about First Nations people? How does Duane address these attitudes with his reference to Napoleon?


Jane Ash Poitras is concerned about Romanticism and how this might affect

perceptions of First Nations and Métis people. Discuss her views after playing her clip.


Generate a discussion on the sources of self-identity. For example, how do magazines,

newspapers, television, movies, textbooks and other media influence how different people see themselves? Are these images fair? Are they equitable? Explain.


Explore what students know about stereotypes by having them consider different types

of stereotypes (cultural, racial, gender, professional, national, regional). Discuss national

From Field to Studio: The art of Paul Kane

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