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WISDOM (2013-15)

A Place of Many Grasses, Tecumseh Monument & Interpretive Plaza: Budget $350,000 

A  sculpture to be fabricated of 4” OD tube, Stainless Steel 316L 42’x38’x’18’ 

for the corporation of the municipality of Chatham-Kent
Commemorative interpretive benches completed and dedicated in 2015


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Site Plan of WISDOM and a Place of Many Grasses (DOWNLOAD PDF)

Full Texts of Ten Commemorative Benches (DOWNLOAD PDF)


Honouring Tecumseh and all First Nations People



“The scale, materials and form of this sculpture are intended to frame the terrible truth of the Battle of the Thames while using formal beauty to suggest that Tecumseh’s story might now inspire healing and hope and the site become a place where First Nations come to dance.” 


Wisdom, a great silver form, sits on a shallow mound constructed to honour Tecumseh’s forebears, the ancient mound builders. There is no visible evidence here of the Battle of the Thames in which he and many others died, October 5, 1813. The events of that day must remain forever undisturbed beneath the surface. In spite of its enormous size, the structure, open to the sky, touches the earth at just four points. Light from sun and stars enters the sculpture freely as do wind, rain and snow. Earth lives and heals just as we do. Tecumseh might have valued this.


The Grasses The many dozens of varieties of swaying grasses that surround the sculpture suggest the diversity of First Nations on Turtle Island, people who to this day share a sacred connection to the earth. The ancestors may have walked with him on that final day, touched his heart and continued with him in death. Tecumseh would have seen grass echo the wind, dance in summer and autumn and chafe noisily in winter until snow turns it into silent sculpture. He might have felt that in this place First Nations beliefs, wisdom and values are revered and understood as nature’s words.


The Path The two colour stone path leading from the road up into the sculpture references Guswenta, the Two Row Wampum (1613) the first treaty to be made and broken between First Nations and Europeans. Each year it is hoped First Nations people will invite the community to join them in a walk along this path as a way of honouring the ancient promise of two cultures living together in harmony.


We know the Battle of the Thames was fought here but we do not know precisely where Tecumseh and many others died. That is not important. Most of what is written about him is based on white men’s perspectives, spoken or written in English many years after his death. In many accounts from that period descriptions of him and his speeches make him indistinguishable from legendary British and American heroes; tall, slim, of commanding presence, an eloquent orator and a visage that suggested the presence of a least one white forebear. None of this meets a basic standard for factual information about this man. What we do know is this. He died in a four hundred year war halfway along its course. The causes of that war are still present. He and his people have been denied everything people need to survive physically and spiritually – and they have somehow survived. It is for this reason that the nine contemporary leaders were asked to provide their insight in prose, poetry and stories in English and in their own first language. They live his story every day. Through them we may gain insight into his. Eleven-year old Morgan Jacobs was asked by her chief to contribute her thoughts to his bench. The benches convey a nuanced story that flows in and around all of us. They do not posit anything with finality. The words are about peace, hope, being human and what it means to belong. We honour him by honouring his people.



4” OD 316L stainless steel tube, ( 50’ x 50’ x 18’). The structure is supported at four points on concrete piles, 24” x 6’, inset below grade. All connections are stainless steel.



Solar-powered, manufactured for this purpose and mounted on 25’ powder coated steel poles. Automatic timer controls are used. Battery life is rated for ten years. LRL Satellite™ 260 watt solar module, 24 volt battery, smart MPPT controller and photo eye, 8400 lumens.



Full Texts of Ten Commemorative Benches (DOWNLOAD PDF)

Ben Barnes,  Shawnee, Second Chief of the Shawnee Tribe  

R. Carlos Nakai  Ute, Southern Athabaskan, I am A:shiwi or what they call Zuni. I am also Northern Spaniard Celt. I play the North American flute.

Rick Hill Sr.  Tuscarora, Six Nations Legacy Consortium

Barbara Croall,  Odawa, musician and composer

Ovide Mercredi, Cree, Former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

Winona LaDuke   Anishinaabe, economist, writer, grandmother, patriot of the land - not a flag

Greg Peters, Delaware, Chief, Delaware Nation at Moraviantown

Eleven-year-old Morgan Jacobs of Delaware Nation at Moraviantown

Alanis Obomsawin,  Abenake, NFB Filmmaker, Artist

Oren Lyons,  Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan, Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee, Six Nations, Iroquois Confederacy


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