By Holliston Logan
The Monday after a long weekend can be a tiring one, but listening to Chief Lady Bird share her story is a surefire way to lift your spirits - plus her laughter is beautiful and infectious! This week Matriarch Movement's podcast host and founder Shayla Oulette Stonechild chats with Nancy King, who you may be more familiar with as Chief Lady Bird. Her name, Chief Lady Bird (Ogimaakwebnes), was given to her in ceremony as a baby and is also the name she uses professionally as an artist. Listening to today's conversation really makes you feel like these two friends are sitting in the room with you, sharing stories, experiences, and dropping some insightful wisdom and truths while they're at it. Give it a listen for yourself and let us know if you feel the same!
Artist and illustrator Chief Lady Bird (she/her) is Chippewa and Potawatomi from the communities of Rama First Nation and Moosedeer Point First Nation. If you follow her on Instagram
(and if you don't, you are seriously missing out on some good stories...) you are probably familiar with her 'mothership'. Having spent the last decade in Toronto, Ontario, Chief Lady Bird moved back to live with her family in Rama First Nation at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. After moving home, she built an art studio on the family property. She documented the building of her studio on her Instagram
stories, and it was a beautiful journey to virtually experience this build with her and her family. The thought and care that was put into her art studio not only by herself, but also by her family, friends, and community really emphasizes and demonstrates the significance of land, community, and kinship in building a healthy and healing space where one can excel and be their true self.
One thing we really admire about Chief Lady Bird's social media presence is the authenticity and warmth she brings with her posts - whether you're cheering for her on the 'mothership' building journey, salivating at her beautifully plated food, or laughing alongside her and her father, you can feel the sincerity and love she brings to her life, and the joy she welcomes daily. Chief Lady Bird embraces her whole self in an inspiring, yet humble manner - watching her artistic journey is heartwarming and you can't help but want to be her best friend. Not only that, but you can tell the power and strength she gains from embracing herself so fully - a power and a strength she uses to engage in difficult conversations that challenge narratives in society.
A recent project Chief Lady Bird completed sparked a lot of conversation in community - she designed a beautiful digital image featuring a blackbird and stars for an Indigenous Brew Crew initiative. Her artwork is featured on beer cans for this initiative which donates the proceeds from these beer sales to local Indigenous women's organizations. In an interview with CBC about this project
, Chief Lady Bird stated: "A lot of my work is focused on empowering and uplifting Indigenous folks in any way that I can, and opening up conversations about things that can sometimes be hard to talk about." Leading conversations like these can result in unwarranted personal attacks and pressure, but Chief Lady Bird handles these conversations with grace, kindness, and perspective. Hand to heart - thank you to Chief Lady Bird for engaging community in these conversations.
In talking about Indigenous artwork in this podcast episode, Chief Lady Bird states: "we are sharing our perspectives and continuing to resist the boxes that we have always been put in; taking control of these narratives and say f-you to the stereotypes and subvert the narratives that have not allowed us the space to grow and be ourselves. Indigenous artwork does that, not just for Indigenous artists, but for everyone in NDN country - it uplifts us to think about the future, where we are, and where we are going. It's just a very beautiful thing that we are making work in a contemporary way, and space, and time." Her work is a personification of these words.
"Through our reconnection with our bodies, we’re addressing the impacts of colonialism on our connection to our language, ceremony, medicines and the land. Why don’t I get to be sexual when I’m Indigenous? It’s like sex was only allowed to exist in the imaginations of settlers.”
- Chief Lady Bird in an interview with Elle
There is so much more to be said about Chief Lady Bird, her work, her passion, her reclamation of Indigenous erotica and sexuality, her promotion of body acceptance and self-love, but we will save that for another day. In the meantime, find a comfy seat and join us in conversation, and hear from her directly.