There are few things in pop culture as iconic as the Star Wars stormtrooper: the white, glossy armour, with the insect helmet, is instantly recognizable as a minion of the Empire.
Comox First Nation artist Andy Everson has put his own unique Indigenized stamp on Star Wars costumes, and the fans are loving it.
Since the past week when the latest instalment of the movies came out, he has sold all out all the T-shirts in this line and has more orders coming in from across the world.
Everson is thrilled with the attention, saying it combines his two passions: Star Wars and Indigenous art.
“I grew up in the ’70s and saw Star Wars, and it influenced me in many ways,” he said.
“But as I grew up, I also started creating work as an Indigenous artist and that became very important.”
He hopes that by combining his two passions that a new audience might gain an appreciation for Northwest Coast art and history.
Requests are coming from across the world for Andy Everson’s Indigenized Star Wars art. (Andy Everson/Facebook)
He was inspired by Chilkat weavers when he created the “Northern Warrior” with its distinctive yellow, blue, white and black colours. Everson said he also replaced the helmet with a traditional hat, made out of maple wood, that his ancestors from Alaska would have worn.
But he also said he gets the irony of Indigenizing the outfits worn by the villains of Star Wars, the “Empire.”
“I get it …. I’ve picked this symbol of imperialistic authority, and Indigenous Peoples are still oppressed in many ways.”
But he said he drew inspiration from history, adding that when First Nations traded with the Europeans for clothes, they often found ways to put their own crest figures on them or add button designs.
Take for example, Defiance, which evokes the great blue heron.
“I was thinking about the role of the warrior in our history, defending the land,” he said.
“And now, we still have warriors … not necessarily resulting in violence, but protesting and resisting the harm to our estuaries and waterways by pipelines and oil spills.”