chapter  10
12 Pages

Northern Plains Boulder Structures

Art and Heterotopias

This chapter considers the potential of this kind of indigenous site-specific installation for thinking afresh the relation of contemporary inhabitants with the land in the Northern Plains region. 'Medicine wheel' is the name given since the late 1800s to a kind of boulder structure found in the Northern Plains of North America. Medicine wheels are often situated on knolls overlooking the prairie, and are mostly found in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and less frequently in Montana and northern Wyoming. The medicine wheel of Steel a great Blood warrior was built in 1940 as a memorial. Moreover, reports from Native consultants indicate that the Big Horn medicine wheel may have been used for vision quests. Medicine wheels seem to be, in Foucault's terms, 'places outside of all places; in their resistance to interpretation according to instrumental notions, they return our gaze unto the prairies, turned denatured, overgrazed cattle pastures, and unto the once verdant river valleys, turned into flooded, mega-project water reservoirs.