Chase Kawinhut Earles: “Ancient Ancestors”

“Over the past several years, I have explored Native American Futurism within the context of Star Wars imagery.  Recently, I have tried to reconcile that the ideas of Bigfoot or UFO’s are some new phenomena.  The truth is these have long been part of Native American cultural identity.  We have revered the “Sky People” and “Hairy Man” for over 1000 years.  Much of what is “paranormal” in contemporary culture is “normal” in ours. I prefer to think that it was our ancestors, not the “ancient aliens” who were the creators of amazing ancient architecture and art in the Americas.  Maybe they were impressed with our works when they visited and maybe we even supplied them with ideas.  We were the Ancient Ancestors.”  Chase Earles


Our Pottery was Sought After Far and Wide” (Grasshouse Sculpture), 2 pieces

“In all the accounts of explorers meeting Caddos, they were instantly impressed with our pottery and wanted to trade it back home across the seas. In French and Spanish accounts, it was recorded that our pottery “was sought after and traded far and wide.” I propose to you that the friends of our Ancient Ancestors, the sky people, would have sought after it and traded it as well. Here we see the “Explorer” extracting pottery from our traditional Grasshouse.”


Hay-aa’-bee-yun: The Hairy Man Effigy Bottle:  Traditional Clay, pit fired (left)

Hay-aa’-nuh: The Being:  Traditional Clay, Pit fired (right)

 Starting in the 50’s the phenom of Bigfoot hit the pop culture of America in a big way. Americans again “discovered” something new. The knowing of the being known as Hairy Man had already been the truth of the Native people going back millennia in our culture and stories. He exists, he was of another tribe. We made being effigies for thousands of years.




A point of contention and disharmony among Indigenous people was the use of Native scouts in the hunting tribes and Native “outlaws” in the dark days. Do they still exist? This Scout presents a dialogue to understand the generational trauma that pits Natives against themselves even to this day.


Kah’un Kah-wis;  Traditional Double Lobe or Compound Jar, Traditional Clay, Pit fired

One of the most fascinating things about traditional Caddo pottery is the sheer multitude of complex shapes and designs. One facet of this is the use of compound vessels where a bottle might be stacked upon a jar or bowl to make a completely new form. These mostly unknown vessel forms become new and contemporary as they are brought forward and presented in a new light. For example, the inspiration for the Scout piece.


Nah-ka-kah-hi-yoo: Disc Above Bottle, Traditional Clay, pit fired

Within the vast collection of ancient and traditional Caddo pottery are shapes that invoke contemporary ideas within our thoughts and imagination. This very classic flat disc-shaped bottle stirred in me the ideas surrounding the growing phenomena of UAPs. Growing in acceptance and understanding, but it has been here forever.


“Ancient Ancestors: Food Sovereignty”

As a rebuff of the “Ancient Aliens” series, I believe that it was our Ancient Ancestors that were fully capable of producing and developing sophisticated methods and creations. We domesticated a wild plant into edible corn and fed millions. In this piece, I propose our food sovereignty was so great we even supported the Sky People who came here on their long journeys of discovery.


Artist Statement  – Chase Kahwinhut Earles  2023

As part of the indigenous futurism art movement of Native Americans, which was born primarily of depictions of Star Wars, I believe it is important to explore all the avenues and depictions of our sci-fi pop culture. That includes all of the American cultures we saw and were a part of as we grew up. As we absorbed the new culture of America so too did that media reflect our Indigenous culture.

A couple of topics have always interested me, from when I was younger to now. They fit perfectly into the idea of Indigenous Futurism either showing how our Native culture fits into mainstream ideas or reclaiming mainstream media and showing how it is ours as well. One of those ideas that tickle me every time I see it is how this idea of Ghosts, UFOs, and Bigfoot are some brand new American phenomena. The truth is those subjects have been part of the cultural identity of almost all Native Americans since before the first boat came across the pond. Ghosts were handled in each Indigenous culture with reverence and stories. Many Native people revered what we called the Sky People, and the Hairy Man already had a name probably 1000 years before Americans called him Bigfoot. These topics renamed as “paranormal” in contemporary American society really were just “normal” in our culture for a long long time.

The other fascination I have is now with this new pop culture idea that Aliens had to have created everything we “dumb savages” couldn’t possibly have created. The new show Ancient Aliens likes to depict over and over again that the genius of ancient “Americas” culture, architecture, earthworks, and art surely could not have been imagined, designed, and built by the thousands of Indigenous cultures that lived here. This is not to say I don’t believe there is a possibility that the Sky People exist. Surely my ancestors have told me so. Maybe we Natives should start portraying our own perspective and interpretation. Maybe we worked in peace and collaboration with cosmic watchers. Maybe they were impressed by our work and visited us. Maybe in our sovereignty, we even supplied them with ideas, art, goods, or services. We were the Ancient Ancestors.