Mary Caesar


Title: Mother and Daughter
Materials: Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 36”x48”
Date: 2014



Title: Mom making Drymeat
Materials: Acrylic on canvas board
Dimensions: 20” x 16”
Date: 2014



Title: Bernice working on Moosehide
Materials: Acrylic on canvas board
Dimensions: 20”x16”
Date: 2014



Title: Mom working on Moosehide
Materials: Acrylic on canvas board
Dimensions: 20”x16”
Date: 2014



Title: Kaska Dene Women working on Moosehide
Materials: Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 36”x48”
Date: 2014



Title: Handgames at Coffee Lake
Materials: Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 48”x36”
Date: 2014



Title: Kaska Hand Games
Materials: Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 48”x36”
Date: 2014



Title: Wolf and Raven
Materials: Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 36”x48”
Date: 2014



Title: Kaska Woman Setting Trap
Material: Acrylic on canvas
Date: 2014



Title: Kaskaskia Women and Children Cooking Traditional Food
Material: Acrylic on canvas
Date: 2014



Title: Kaska Women Picking Berries
Material: Acrylic on canvas
Date: 2014


Artist Statement

My paintings are a reflection of Kaska Dena women living on the land in past and present situations and time. Kaska Dena woman are depicted in a variety of scenes that reveal them working on traditional skills such as scraping a moose hide, cooking moose meat and bannock on the camp fire, and cutting moose meat to hang on poles to make dry meat in their summer camps.

In the past before the Europeans came to the north, the Kaska Dena people, who are a part of the Athabascan-speaking tribes, lived on the land and subsisted on the animals in their traditional territories, for food, clothing, and shelter. The Kaska Dena people were a nomadic people who travelled on their traditional lands where the game roamed. They lived on moose, caribou, fish, berries, plants, and small game animals such as gopher, ground hogs, and porcupine, as well as birds like ducks, geese, and grouse.

The women made clothing from the moose and caribou hides. They smoked and tanned the hides after a long process of scraping, softening, and smoking the hides. They sewed intricate geometric and floral designs on their clothing with porcupine quills, and using moose and caribou sinew. They also had a technique called moose hair tufting, which involved sewing dyed moose hair onto their clothing. Once the Europeans came to the north, the Kaska Dena were introduced to glass seed beads, embroidery thread, sewing tools, and new fabrics, which are still used today.

When the Europeans came to the north they built trading posts where they sold food, basic camping equipment such as canvas tents, along with guns, shells, and traps. The Hudson’s Bay Trading Company had several trading posts on Kaska Dena Land. The Europeans bought furs at these trading posts from the Kaska Dena people. The Kaska people lived in the Watson Lake, Frances Lake, and Ross River areas. Today, there are seven Kaska Dena Communities in the Yukon and Northern British Columbia.

The Kaska Nation is based on a matriarchal system. Children and families follow their mother’s moiety. There are two moieties in the system, which are the Wolf and Crow clan. So, if the mother is a Wolf or a Crow, the children take after their mother’s moiety or clan. Our people lived on the land and had a spiritual connection to the land. The people believed the land and animals were created by the Creator for the people to live on and survive on.

My paintings reflect the lifestyle of the Kaska Dena women and their children. The women were responsible for the caring and well-being of their families. Young women had to learn from the elder women the traditional skills of cooking, sewing traditional garments from moose and caribou hides such as jackets, tunics, moccasins, mukluks, etc. They also had to learn how to make moosehide, hunt and prepare small animals for food.

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