Indigenous art. Indigenous perspectives.

Mark Fischer: Bison Comes Home

Mark Fischer Ancient Dignity

Mark Fischer (Oneida Nation) with his copper bison sculpture, Ancient Dignity. Photo: Dennis King.

By Loretta Webster (Oneida Nation)

Crowds gathered, the press was there, and the Woodland Indian Art Facebook page shot up with visitors as the story of Mark Fischer’s copper bison hit the moccasin telegraph. Mark installed the life-size copper bison in the lobby of the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a week before the annual Woodland Indian Art Show and Market in June 2015.

Mark Fischer is a member of the Turtle Clan of the Oneida Nation (formerly known as the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin) and the amazing copper sculpture of a bison looked right at home on the Oneida Reservation in Wisconsin, which is where the Radisson Hotel can be found. Mark honored his culture by embellishing Ancient Dignity with images of wampum belts, signifying peace agreements of the Haudenosaunee, a confederation of Oneida, Mohawk, Onondaga, Seneca, Cayuga, and Tuscarora Nations. He also honored the Iroquois/Haudenosaunee ironworkers of New York by using a steel I-beam for the armature in the chest of the bison.

Ancient Dignity by Mark Fischer (Oneida) outside of River Trading Post

Ancient Dignity by Mark Fischer (Oneida Nation), outside of River Trading Post, Scottsdale, AZ. Photo: Neebinnaukzhik Southall (Rama Chippewa).

Mark Fischer beaver sculpture

Mark Fischer (Oneida Nation), Beaver, copper sculpture. Photo: Dennis King.

The North American bison, also called buffalo, was a gentle giant within the cultural history of tribes throughout the United States and Canada. It provided food, clothing, and shelter for the lucky tribes finding the bison in their hunting grounds. And today, many tribal nations, such as the Oneida, are proud to protect and nurture their buffalo herds in thanks for the many gifts of sustenance that they provide.

Ancient Dignity is Native cultural art at its finest. The sculpture personifies dignity and peace that brings forth feelings of awe, mystery, and love from those who first see it. It created a stir of appreciation throughout the 2015 Woodland Indian Art Show and Market and garnered a Best of Show award and first place ribbon for Mark Fischer. He has won numerous honors and awards from major Indian art shows throughout America: Santa Fe Indian Market, Santa Fe; Indigenous Peoples Art Market, Mount Pleasant; Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market, Phoenix; Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market, Indianapolis; and many more. The Indian Arts and Crafts Association named him second place Indian Artist of the Year 2015. Look for Mark at the Woodland Indian Festival of Arts and Culture, Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, Green Bay, Wisconsin, on July 1–3, 2016.

Mark Fischer Porcupine

Mark Fischer (Oneida Nation), Porcupine, copper sculpture. Photo: Dennis King.

Mark Fischer has been a participant at the Woodland Indian Art Show and Market since it launched over nine years ago. He is a copper sculptor, influenced by ancient decorative and functional items made by the Great Lakes tribes. He is also a teacher, who instills the sacred stories passed down for generations through Oneida/Haudenosaunee educators into all his sculptures.

Mark’s pictures of a beaver and porcupine show his creativity and humor as he brings his copper sculptures to life., Mark Fischer’s website

Woodland Indian Art Show and Market, July 1–3, 2016


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