The Sleeping Giant

sleeping giant bruce headThis is The Sleeping Giant by Canadian artist Bruce Head. It is currently on display in the skylight lobby on the third floor at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  The painting is Bruce Head’s artistic vision of a large rock in Thunder Bay known as The Sleeping Giant. 

sleeping giant thunder bayNaturally, there is a legend about how The Sleeping Giant got its name. Here’s the version I tell children I take on tours at the art gallery.
Long ago the Spirit of the Deep Sea named Nanabijou decided to give a special gift to the Ojibway people because he loved them so much. He told them about an island where they could find a silver mine filled with silver. Using the silver from the mine the Ojibway created beautiful jewelry and tools and sold them. They became very rich. Nanabijou told them they must never tell anyone else where the silver mine was or Nanabijou himself would be turned to stone.
One night a member of the Sioux people disguised himself and snuck into the Ojibway village. He listened to them describe where the silver mine was and followed the Ojibway to the island in his own canoe. He stole some silver from the mine.
As both the Sioux thief and the Ojibway men were paddling back from the island a great storm arose and they all drowned. When the storm ended the men had disappeared and the Ojibway people saw that Nanabijou the loving Spirit of the Deep Sea had been turned into stone and his body had formed a huge rock island. Today that rock is called the Sleeping Giant.

the silver curse norval morisseau
The great First Nations artist Norval Morrisseau did a painting of the legend called The Silver Curse.

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