Situated near Houle’s childhood home, the sacred place referred to in these paintings, the Narrows of Lake Manitoba, is a revered natural phenomenon that was legendary and a site of pilgrimage for the Saulteaux. For the Saulteaux, the Narrows are known as muhnedobe uhyahyuk, meaning the “divine straits,” or translated as “the place where the gods are present.” It is also the place from which the province of Manitoba derived its name, an origin Houle celebrates in this vibrant response to the earth, light, and sky of the prairie landscape.
Robert Houle: Making Art to Decolonize History
Robert Houle, Muhnedobe uhyahyuk (Where the gods are present), 1989, (Matthew, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas)
Oil on canvas, four paintings, each 244 x 182.4 x 5 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa