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Rebirth of the Four Coyote Spirits
First Nations Woman artist, spiritual, symbol, history of First Nations people, New Mexican pottery, mask, Aboriginal art forms, sacred ceremonies, cultural traditions, photographs,collage effects, pilgrimage,ledger drawings, sacred, Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, text,mixed media,political, cave drawings, Oka, McMichael Canadian Art Collection,

Rebirth of the Four Coyote Spirits is divided into four sections. The top blackboard section could symbolize and encourage teaching and learning about the past and histories of  First NationsFirst Nations is a contemporary term referring to the Indian peoples of Canada, both status and non-status (definition from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada). To find out more about Canada’s First Nations, go to: Assembly of First Nations: Village of First Nations: Canada’s First Nations: Wikipedia:   peoples.

anasazi In the second section, Jane Ash Poitras has included a photo that shows a woman protecting her children. It is placed on a black ground which has decoration similar to that found on the black pottery of the Aboriginal peoples of New Mexico.  On the right hand side of this section, she has placed a mask, another Aboriginal art form.

The third section shows examples of symbols used in cultural traditions and sacred ceremonies from around the world. Also included in this section is a piece of fabric from an altar cloth and two photos. The photos contain images of her son on a spiritual pilgrimage or quest.

start quoteOnly through spiritual renewal can we find out who we really are, be empowered to achieve our potential and acquire the wisdom to eliminate the influences that bring tragedy upon us and destroy
us.end quote
-- Jane Ash Poitras (Newlands 2007)

The last section includes images she copied and referenced from Plains First Nation paper ledger drawings. These drawings and symbols were used to communicate sacred ideas and to encourage spirituality.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • Why would Poitras include images of newspaper clippings of “Oka” and “James Bay”? What histories are the articles referencing?  For some more information, go to:
  • In what ways is Jane Ash Poitras combining ideas of the past, the present and spirituality in this artwork?
  • Can you summarize the ideas in each quadrant using only one word?
  • How does this work relate to the theme of Identity?
Studio Activity
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  • Collect a number of images and texts and communicate ideas and symbols about an important message related to your own sense of identity.

Black pottery

  • Experiment with these techniques as you work with clay.

Cave paintings

  • Find out more about cave paintings from around the world.  You can start by visiting the following websites:
  • Can you recognize any images in Poitras’ work which are particular to a specific culture or area?



Author unknown. ‘Jane Ash Poitras.’ Cybermuse, undated. Retrieved from the Internet on March 23, 2009 from:

Author unknown.  ‘Jane Ash Poitras, Native Artist.’  Native Art in Canada, undated.  Retrieved from the Internet on August 18, 2008 from:

Author unknown.  ‘Jane Ash Poitras.’  National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, 2006.  Retrieved from the Internet on August 18, 2008 from:

Author unknown. ‘Trickster.’ Wikipedia. undated. Retrieved from the Internet on March 11, 2009 from:

Miller, Heather Andrews.  ‘Jane Ash-Poitras: Alberta artist receives Aboriginal honour.’  Windspeaker, undated.  Retrieved from the Internet on August 18, 2008 from:

Newlands, Anne. Canadian Paintings, Prints and Drawings, Firefly Books, Richmond Hill, Ont., 2007.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning