The Bison and The Dragon: Untold Tales


The Project

This public art project in Chinatown represents a history of collaboration and shared adversity between local Chinese and Indigenous communities.

Designed by artist Jarett Sitter, this project is comprised of three wall-mounted panels, two on 1st St. SE and one at 4th Ave. SE. Each panel represents a fusion of animals important to both cultures: A Chinese dragon with the head of a bison, a phoenix with the head of a golden eagle and a lion and bear with their cub, which combines traits of both animals.

The intent of the project is to create temporary, vibrant and engaging artworks that can be enjoyed by motorists, pedestrians, businesses and residents in the area. The expected lifespan for this artwork is between five to 10 years and it will be maintained as part of the City of Calgary Public Art Collection for its lifespan.

The project is ongoing. Due to unexpected scheduling delays, we do not have a confirmed installation date. We will update this page when we have more information.

Artist Statement

Stories are how we make sense of our surroundings, how we pass down our history and how we learn to live in the world. When important stories remain largely untold for too long, they disappear. The Bison and The Dragon: Untold Tales highlights the long, shared history between Chinese and Indigenous communities on this land. The series of three wall installations visually represents stories of connection, kinship and support that are less visible or less publicly known.

I am a mixed heritage artist of Chinese and Polish-German descent. The Bison and The Dragon: Untold Tales tells the story of co-operation and shared adversity within our Chinese community from my mixed/Chinese perspective. I was inspired by community stories about the friendships and relationships that formed between the first Chinese people who immigrated to the prairies and the Plains First Nations (the Niitsitapi, the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda Nation). Stories of First Nations people who helped the Chinese community survive the harsh winter elements when, unlike their white counterparts, they were not permitted to sleep in the train cars at night while they were working on the railroad. Stories of Chinese people not being allowed to visit white doctors, but receiving care in First Nations communities, and stories of First Nations people being fed in Chinese cafés when they were not permitted in white establishments. I am also interested in stories of Chinese men marrying First Nations women in the early days of Chinese immigration, and the untold stories of their children. These are stories I was continually thinking of while creating this artwork, as someone who is also mixed race and existing between cultures.

In Chinese mythology, the dragon and phoenix are creatures made of several different animals. For example, a dragon is often thought of as being composed of nine different animals, some parts depicted being the head of a camel (other times a crocodile), the talons of an eagle, the belly of a clam. In my illustrated animals, I reference a traditional style of Chinese artwork and Chinese mythological creatures, while also introducing visual details and new animal elements meant to honour the First Nations people of Mohkinsstsis who are the original stewards of this land.

This public artwork displayed in the Chinatown community incorporates animals that are important to the Niitsitapi people, most notably the bison and the golden eagle. I have also made the addition of the lifeline, a visual element that represents the life force that runs through and connects all living things. This element was inspired by suggestions and information shared with me by Elders Cindy Daniels from Îyârhe Nakoda and Rod Scout from Siksika, whom I thank for their guidance in sharing their knowledge and stories.

By bringing together Chinese mythological creatures and animals/symbols that are important to the Niitsitapi people, I hope to form a new visual language and iconography that speaks not only to the relationship between the early Chinese community and the Plains First Nations, but also to my own experience of existing between two cultures. My hope is to give a louder voice to stories that have previously only been whispered.



Community Engagement

January 2022: A joint project between the City of Calgary and Calgary Arts Development was announced, with the goal of creating a temporary road mural on 3rd Avenue, between Centre St. and 1 St. SE in Chinatown. The mural was planned to add visual interest to the area while construction was underway as part of the Eau Claire Area Improvements Program. The projected timeline would have the mural installed during the Summer of 2022.

February 2022: A Call to Artists was released, and by Spring 2022 a selection committee named local artist Jarett Sitter to design the road mural.


The Bison and The Dragon: Untold Tales

Project Completion:



Mixed Media




Pho City, 207 1st St. SE, Calgary Immigrant Women's Association, 138 4th Ave SE

About the Artist

I am a Chinese German Polish mixed media illustrator and animator currently based in Calgary, Alberta. I graduated with a BFA in New Media from the University of Lethbridge in 2007.

Growing up inspired by skateboarding graphics, music, album covers, and Saturday morning cartoons, my art plays with these nostalgic elements to bring forward peculiar worlds.

Absurding the norm and introducing the weird into an environment, whether in illustration or live action animation, my work brings strange life to image. Creepy, playful, with elements of softness and manic absurdity, illustrations act as a window into a world with no explanation in which the characters inhabit.

Using self-contained narrative, these misfit inhabitants are embracing small moments of discovery and childish curiosity of exploration.

— Jarett Sitter