Regina, Treaty 4: Eagleclaw Thom
Before I ever learned his formidable name, I knew Eagleclaw as one of the handsome, friendly baristas at the now defunct Roca Jack’s on 13 Ave. In the years since, I’ve come to know Eagle as a truly inspired photographer and artist, a proud father, and a friend and comrade who throws his redoubtable talents and skills into all kinds of community mobilizations and grassroots initiatives – usually in the background somewhere out of view. Eagle wears his talents lightly, and his sharp style and looks belie what a goofball he generally is. Eagleclaw Thom is a Queen City gem.
KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?
Currently, I’m working on a series of paintings on rabbit pelts. The paintings are all named after family members and are either in commemoration of the deceased, or in honour of the living members of my family. I am also fundraising for a series of work on missing and murdered women and in the process of gathering stories about the women who are gone. This project is called “What We Lost” and is part of my residency at the University of Regina. In addition to that, I’m working on a commemorative statue for an unnamed graveyard on the edge of Regina. This graveyard is the resting place of many forgotten children who attended the Regina Indian Industrial School between 1872 - 1908. This graveyard, until recently, has been nearly completely forgotten by everyone, and quite nearly developed upon without any efforts by the City, or those responsible for the graveyard, to recognize the damage done in putting these children in unmarked graves. I’m also involved in a film that will be filmed in La Ronge that is to be shot this winter.
KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?
My day job is making art, freelance photography and videography. I’m in love with what I do. I make things that I dream about and feel that should be in the world. The challenging part is finding money to continue creating work. I have a hard time selling work because most of the time I don’t make work to sell it, but just because it’s something that should exist, and not for those with the money to buy it. I’m constantly in conflict with myself over the business side of the art world. I like to blame that on me being a communist in a capitalist society.
KC: What’s important to you?
The short version is doing the right thing and general tomfoolery.
KC: What do you like most/least about Regina?
The amazing sense of community that is built here. People really care for each other and love to see each other succeed. It makes us all stronger, but that could just be my own little left wing bubble that I’ve found myself in, because the thing I hate the most about this city is that it’s incredibly racist. I could go on for days and days with examples but will just leave it at that.
KC: What is your impression of Saskatoon?
When I was a teenager I spent a lot of time in Saskatoon. I was homeless at the time, but had an amazing time there and met amazing dirty punk rockers. We caused tons of trouble there. One day we pulled a parking meter out of the ground and tried to break into it by throwing it off the Broadway Bridge. It didn’t work at all, but we had the police release cop dogs on us for our troubles. Nowadays, when I go to Saskatoon it’s for work and art shows. It’s still an amazing place and lots of fun. It has an amazing art scene and a very welcoming community.
KC: How do you survive the winters here?
I have some really big, really hot lamps that I use to pretend it’s summer. Oh, and I sometimes hang a hammock inside my house to pretend it’s summer. I just keep busy though, mostly. If you don’t stay occupied during the winter here you’re going to have a really hard time. It’s long and depressing, and dark and cold. Make things, force yourself to go out, find a way to enjoy it, or else you’ll suffer. Oh, and make wild outlandish plans to move someplace where there is no snow ever, that helps.
KC: (From the Proust Questionaire) Who is your hero of fiction?
Wasakichuk or Aunt Nancy or Anansi or Raven or Coyote. The trickster who tells stories: most cultures have one in their mythos. They are the fuck-ups that teach lessons by doing things wrong. They make mistakes but everything works out for them, or doesn’t work out, but they continue anyway. I think it’s a good way to live: Create amazing stories and teach others how to live as well.