The fate of Shinning Raven Woman may hinge on land negotiations between the City of Grand Forks and David Seven Deers, who hand carved the sculpture.
Named “Ikasha” in the Coast Salish language of Halkomelem, Shining Raven Woman represents Seven Deers’ vision of beauty and unity. Seven Deers has received overwhelming support from the city and community leaders to display the sculpture in a traditional Coast Salish lodge where the Kettle River flows into the Granby.
Speaking before Grand Forks’ committee of the whole Monday, April 12, Seven Deers reminded mayor and council of their written pledge last September to “find land for Ikasha.” The plan as of January had been to house the sculpture at a proposed lodge site on Crown land, near the rivers’ confluence, he said.
Seven Deers then alluded to “our new and present situation,” insisting that it had become essential for his estate to guard Shinning Raven Woman in perpetuity by taking direct ownership of the lodge site.
“My proposal to keep her safe from anything that can happen in future generations is that that land should be in my name, so that I can protect her as private property,” he said.
Seven Deers was vague when asked to explain his position, telling Coun. Chris Moslin only that, “The situation has shown me that I must be very careful with my imagery. Not everybody likes what I do. I think you understand what I’m referring to there,” adding that, “I’m trying my best not to speak about this in public.”
While he wants to see Shinning Raven Woman displayed at the confluence, Seven Deers said he was concerned that future civic leaders could decide to remove or “destroy Ikasha” if the sculpture were to be housed on city property. If the city agreed to sell him the lodge site for $1, Seven Deers said he would happily guarantee that he would keep Shining Raven Woman open to the public, adding that he would maintain the lodge site and pay taxes on the land.
Revisiting his proposal at their regular meeting, council unanimously voted for staff to report the specifics of a land deal in consultation with Seven Deers. Staff said that council would have to put any sale of city land to a public consultation process.
Staff did not offer a timeline as to when their report would be ready for council’s consideration. The city does not comment on the disposition of municipal land during negotiations.