Cheyenne and Arapaho Nation / Wichita, USA (1954), lives and works in Oklahoma, USA

Defend Sacred Mountains  2018

64 monoprints, ink on rag paper

Courtesy of TIA Collection, Santa Fe



Defend Sacred Mountains (Mauna Kea) 2018

16 monoprints, ink on rag paper

Courtesy of TIA Collection, Santa Fe


An artist, teacher and activist whose practice is grounded in Cheyenne and Arapaho spiritual beliefs, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds sees his graphically striking works as also contributing to a process of social and political advocacy to reinstate and perpetuate first nations culture and cosmology in public discourse. Defend Sacred Mountains is one of a number of important bodies of drawings through which the artist traces the indigenous toponymy linked to places of ritual, worship and healing, to restore their function and dignity. Each group of 16 monoprints in the work relates to a mountain sacred to Native Americans. Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawaiʻi, today houses 13 astronomical telescopes, despite its peak being considered sacred in Hawai’ian religion. Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks, an area from which Diné/Navajo tribes collect medicinal plants, is now heavily polluted by wastewater outflows. Bear’s House/Devils Tower in Wyoming, a sacred site to Northern Great Plains Native Americans, has become a tourist destination for thousands of rock climbers every year. Bear Butte, in South Dakota, has been since 1938 the location of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, an event gathering over 500,000 riders. Reflecting the desecration and disregard to which places sacred to Native Americans have been subjected, Heap of Birds’ monoprints are spaces both of political denunciation and cultural resilience.