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The introductory chapter provides background on the artist’s practice. Heap of Birds describes his practice as continuing a warrior tradition, comparing his art to the “sharp rocks,” or stone projectile points, found on the ground of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Nation and elsewhere in North America. Heap of Birds’s art lodges a trenchant critique of settler colonialism and its legacies. This introduction contextualizes his work in relation to a generation of politically engaged artists along with whom he first gained notoriety in the 1980s. Heap of Birds’s practice is also contextualized in relation to Plains Native ceremony and worldview, in particular the Earth Renewal, or Sun Dance, in which he has been a participant and leader for over three decades. The chapter concludes by arguing that Heap of Birds’s art, grounded in indigenous philosophies and notions of time, intervenes in current formations of contemporary art history and theory.

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