Hanis Coos, Blackfeet, Tlingit (Chookeneidi Clan), Metis
Born in the territory of their Mother, Coos Bay, OR; Ayuthea LaPier works in the company of their community to rematriate fire to land. While their career in fire is green, it has grown from an upbringing in their family’s Hanis Coos and fire-dependent cultural practices. As the firstborn of two weavers, LaPier recognizes the imperative need for good fire and climate justice to protect the coming generations of weavers. Having passed their Tetsewisiiye (puberty ceremony) in 2015, they now wear the skin- stitched xam (tattoo) marks they earned on their hands. LaPier continually seeks new ways to tell stories, while stitched into a very old fabric and knowledge.
LaPier’s work has served their community through teaching beadwork and producing illustrations, further defining Hanis Coos cultural continuity. They have instructed classes for local community members with the goal to diversify the skills of learners and increase access to regalia, understanding this as a right for all Indigenous people. In 2022, LaPier received funding from Na’ah Illahee Fund and Potlatch Fund to further the learning, community, and presence of the regalia belonging to Coos women and non-men: maple bark skirts. Currently, LaPier is working with a group of Coos, Quiich, and Siuslaw women to create a replica of a repatriated Miluk Coos dress, made in the early 1900’s. Their goal is to record the techniques used by Coos people during that period.
I am hopeful that given the opportunity to grow my artistic practice my work as a fire-lighter and artist can continue to intersect.”
-Ayuthea LaPier (Hanis Coos, Blackfeet, Tlingit [Chookeneidi Clan], Metis)
La Pier’s LIFT Project, Land Back : Fire Back, is a visual storytelling of Pacific Northwest Indigenous fire-practitioners’ Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and vitality in the seemingly colonial and militaristic field of Prescribed Fire. By subverting five drip torch tools with fully beaded basketry designs and Indigenous climate justice language, LaPier will open conversations around the meaning of land rematriation and land defense. The initial showing of work will take place in the artist’s hometown, Coos Bay, Oregon, at the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians tribal gallery.