View this email in your browser
Great Lakes Research Alliance
for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures

November 2020 Newsletter

Aanii!  She:kon!  Yiheh!  Welcome!  Bienvenue!

Acknowledging the violent response to the Sipeknw’katik First Nation’s exercise of treaty rights and the conclusion of Mi’kmaq History Month, this newsletter features an article with background information and resources for solidarity by Mi’kmaq PhD candidate and guest contributor Alexander Ross. Circumstances in Mi’kma’ki demonstrate the need to grow knowledge and practice of treaty relations, as highlighted in our second entry about Treaty Recognition Week in Ontario (November 2nd to 6th). We hope that you will find these and all of the contributions to GRASAC’s November newsletter helpful, engaging, and interesting! 

You are invited to share your news and stories in future newsletters - learn how at the end of this issue.

In this newsletter you will find:
  • All eyes on Mi’kma’ki as Mi’kmaq fight for recognition of moderate livelihood fisheries, by Alexander Ross
  • Treaty Recognition Week Events
  • Alan Ojiig Corbiere wins Barbara Godard Prize, from York University
  • From the GKS: A Haudenosaunee Chatelaine Bag, by Autumn Epple
  • Preparing for a Public GKS, by Chantelle Perreault
  • Onöndowa'ga:' Archaeology Digital Collection Goes Live, by Dusti Bridges and Kurt Jordan
  • Traditional Arts of the Anishinaabek Virtual Exhibit, by the Leelanau Historical Society
  • Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory by Brittany Luby, from the University of Manitoba Press
  • Virtual Event: Skawennati, Greetings from Skyworld
  • Virtual Event: Decolonizing Museums and Collections
  • Virtual Event: OMA Conference and Webinars
  • Call for Virtual Exhibit Proposals
  • Invitation to contribute to future GRASAC newsletters

All eyes on Mi’kma’ki as Mi’kmaq fight for recognition of moderate livelihood fisheries
by Alexander Ross

The past two months have seen significant violence directed toward Mi’kmaw fishers in Sipekne’katik. This has included threats, vandalism of lobster traps and boats, and even an assault against Sipekne’katik chief Michael Sack. A lobster compound in Middle West Pubnico was vandalized and later burned to the ground. This violence has been in response to Sipekne’katik opening its own self-regulated “moderate livelihood” fishery.
The inherent and Treaty rights of Mi’kmaq to fish outside of the commercial season and earn a “moderate livelihood” was affirmed in the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 Marshall decision. For 20 years, Mi’kmaq communities have tried to negotiate with the Government of Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for recognition of Mi’kmaq fisheries. Rather than pursue a true nation-to-nation relationship, the DFO has instead confiscated equipment, harassed or arrested Mi’kmaw fishers, and tried to persuade Mi’kmaq not to pursue their right to a moderate livelihood. While negotiations are still ongoing, the response to the violence suffered by Sipkne’katik, and other Mi’kmaq communities has been inadequate. 

Thankfully, Indigenous and settler allies across Turtle Island have been engaging in acts of solidarity to support Mi’kmaw fishers as they defend their inherent and Treaty rights. This document put together by Agent NDN offers comprehensive resources for supporting Mi’kmaq treaty rights and moderate livelihood fisheries across Mi’kma’ki. Wela’lioq for any support you can give in this difficult time.

Treaty Recognition Week Events

For Ontario Treaty Recognition Week, November 2-6, 2020, Robinson Huron Waawiindaamaagewin is hosting a series of virtual celebrations, informative presentations, and ceremonies. The program includes two GRASAC Steering Committee members: Alan Ojiig Corbiere on “Exploring Covenant Chain Principles in the RHT Process” and Heidi Bohaker on “Doodem and Council Fire: Anishinaabe Governance Through Alliance.”
More information here
Also during Treaty Recognition Week, Jeffery G. Hewitt, Assistant Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, will be presenting a lecture called Fragmented Promises, Pentimento & the Salvage Paradigm on Thursday, November 5 at 11:00 am – 12:15 pm EST. This talk considers the meaning of promises un/made and re/made through worldmaking in common law, constitutional narrative, treaties with and oaths taken by the Crown. Together, participants will examine worldviews reinforced through art and visual culture that romanticize Indigenous peoples, idealize empty promises, and fragment meaning. This lecture is part of the larger workshop: Making Promises: Oaths, Treaties, and Covenants in Multi-jurisdictional and Multi-religious Societies, hosted by the Religion and Public Memory initiative at the University of Toronto Department for the Study of Religion.
Register here
Alan Ojiig Corbiere wins Barbara Godard Prize
from York University

Every year, the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies awards the Barbara Godard Prize for the best graduate dissertation for outstanding works that advance our knowledge of Canada. For the 2019-20 academic year, the award went to M'Chigeeng historian and researcher Alan Ojiig Corbiere (Department of History) for his dissertation titled Anishinaabe Treaty-Making in the 18th- and 19th-Century Northern Great Lakes: From Shared Meanings to Epistemological Chasms.
Full story here
A.1984.68. 18 cm × 17.5 cm. This chatelaine bag from the mid-19th century, housed currently in the collection of the National Museums Scotland, represents a fascinating cultural crossover between settler and Onkwehonwe women. Photo by Cory Willmott. (Image from the GKS, for research and community use only)
From the GKS: A Haudenosaunee Chatelaine Bag
by Autumn Epple

Within the collection at the National Museums Scotland is a magnificent example of Haudenosaunee beadwork from the Victorian era. The GKS has a fair amount of information on this chatelaine bag (a formal waist bag worn by 19th century women), which would have been sold to non-Native tourists at Niagara Falls. Possibly Tuscarora in origin, this bag uses both opaque and “greasy” (shiny) beads, velveteen fabric, cheap cotton fabric, and cardboard backing for the beadwork. Floral patterns like this are common in Onkwehonwe designs to this day.

What is striking about this delicate piece is that it would have been sold to non-Native women, created for the livelihood of the artist and her family. GKS notes that in 1857, a pattern for this type of bag was made available in a British women’s magazine, so Onkwehonwe would have followed such a pattern. The bag itself represents a crossover of a settler item being made in an Indigenous fashion. The original buyer of the bag would have been on a leisure trip when they purchased it, whereas the artist who made it likely did not experience such luxury. Both women were probably proud of the bag for very different reasons.

The 2007 research team who compiled the information on the bag consisted of Cory Willmott, Heidi Bohaker, Laura Peers, Ruth Phillips, Keith Jamieson, Alan Corbiere, Henrietta Lidchi, Robert Storrie, Chantal Knowles and Brenda McGoff.

GRASAC items have a comment feature, so once you have logged on to the database and viewed this item, you can share a connection or story.

Forgot your password to the database? Contact our project manager, Haley Bryant, who can reset it for you.

If you have a favourite item you would like to share, or want to recommend a particular item whose story we should tell, please contact our communications assistant, Bradley Clements.

Bradley and Haley can both be reached at

Caption from the GKS: Anishinaabe birch bark container with lid, with geese and thistle motifs scraped into bark. Collected at Tamagami, Nipissing district, Ontario; made in 1914, purchased by museum in 1946. Current location: Peabody Essex Museum. Catalogue/Accession Number or Reference: E26284. (GKS Record ID: 45091)
Preparing for a Public GKS
by Chantelle Perreault

As an intern for GRASAC, I have been working as part of a team with fellow interns Olivia White and Kelisha Peters, under the supervision of Dr. Cara Krmpotich. As part of our work, we have been looking into methods of re-presenting the online GKS database in order to better centre Indigenous knowledge practices and values such as relationality.

Presently, we are working towards creating a polyhierarchical system – a method which allows for multiple points of entry when searching for items within the database. Within a polyhierarchy system there are no points of entry which are dominant over others; rather, they are relational and interconnected. We are inspired by the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Centre, who use this approach at their museum.

This approach is similar to the Medicine Wheel pedagogy, and our team has started our conceptualisation by focusing on seasonality, directionality and water systems, and stages of life.

Entry points such as seasonality provide various ways to consider an item within the GKS. Seasonality can be related to an item’s use, material, design, and time of construction. Consider the Anishinaabe container pictured above (GKS record #45091): in conversation with Harbor Springs artists, we learned the material used to make this item is etched birchbark, which is often collected just after the snow has melted, around the same time that maple syrup is tapped. Approaching heritage items through seasonality has the ability to create relational connections and alter the way we think about items beyond just their practical use. Approaching knowledge seasonally, this item could be put into relation with other heritage items such as the Anishinaabe spouts pictured below, used for collecting maple sap from trees (GKS #25808), and the Anishinaabe pot hooks used for holding maple sap kettles, shown at the end of this article (GKS #27166).
Caption provided by Ruth Phillips: Three wooden spouts for collecting maple sap from trees. Anishinaabe, collected by F.W. Waugh at Sandfield, Algoma County, north shore of Georgian Bay, c. 1890. Current location: National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution. Catalogue/Accession Number or Reference: E206763. (GKS ID: 25808)
Within a polyhierarchical system, heritage items are not bound to only one category. This Anishinaabe container may fall into one or multiple categories within seasonality, as well as being connected to places and stage of life.
The goal is to create a searchable database with multiple points of entry where both its organisation and the content enact Indigenous knowledge systems.

We are thankful to the GRASAC members who have had early conversations with us about the potential of a polyhierarchy approach, and in particular ideas about seasons, directionality, and waterways. Miigwetch, Nya:weh Alan Corbiere, Kevin White, Renée Wasson Dillard, Yvonne Walker Keshick, Mikinaak Migwans, Heather Howard, Jenna Wood. 

We are still learning! If you have knowledge and ideas about seasons and material heritage you’d like to share with us for our planning, please email to set up a time to talk.
Caption provided by Ruth Phillips: Two pot hooks for holding maple sap kettles, formed of cut sections of tree branches with natural bends. Collected by F.W. Waugh, Sandfield, Algoma County Ontario, north shore of Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. Current Location: National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution. Catalogue/Accession Number or Reference: E203766. (GKS ID: 27166)

Glass bead from the White Springs site, digitized for the collection by the Cornell University Library (image from the Cornell University Library). 

Onöndowa'ga:' Archaeology Digital Collection Goes Live
by Dusti Bridges and Kurt Jordan

Materials from two Onöndowa'ga:' archaeological sites, White Springs (circa 1688-1715) and Townley-Read (circa 1715-1754), are now available to the public as a Cornell University Library Digital Collection. This online platform provides information on archaeological materials from a poorly-understood era to researchers in Anthropology, History, and Indigenous Studies; serves as a resource for education on Indigenous history; and, most importantly, provides a means for Onöndowa'ga:' descendant communities to access and explore their heritage.

Funded in part by GRASAC, the structure and content of this website were developed in collaboration with Onöndowa'ga:' partners, including staff at the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum and the Seneca Art and Culture Center. This collection includes artifact, animal, and plant material from houses and other domestic areas of the sites, allowing visitors a window into daily life. We plan to include commentary and additional perspectives on these items, and encourage community feedback via the “Send us feedback” button at the bottom of each page.

Read more about the project
View the collection
Traditional Arts of the Anishinaabek Exhibit Room (image from the Leelanau Historical Society)

Traditional Arts of the Anishinaabek Virtual Exhibit
by the Leelanau Historical Society

In recognition of Indigenous People’s Day the Leelanau Historical Society launched an addition to their permanent exhibit The Katherine Hall Wheeler, Traditional Anishinaabek Arts Room. The virtual exhibit and video component features Anishinaabek basket makers of Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula.

In 1987, the Leelanau Historical Society began documenting, interpreting, collecting, and preserving birch bark and quillwork baskets and black ash baskets. In 2005, the museum built a unique conservation grade exhibit space in which much of this collection is continually on display.

The addition of this virtual exhibit honors the human story behind these works of art. The Leelanau Historical Society collaborated with Laura Quackenbush, the original curator of the Traditional Anishinaabek Arts Collection. It is with great respect that Laura worked closely with Peshawbestown Elders, Hank Bailey and Linda Woods, in order to share their wisdom.

Video produced by Brauer Productions. This project was made possible thanks to the support of basket room patrons, Katherine Hall Wheeler’s children: Janie Markham, Gil Wheeler, Katherine Vestal.

View the Virtual Exhibit
Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory
by Brittany Luby

from University of Manitoba Press

Dammed explores Canada’s hydroelectric boom in the Lake of the Woods area. It complicates narratives of increasing affluence in postwar Canada, revealing that the inverse was true for Indigenous communities along the Winnipeg River. Dammed makes clear that hydroelectric generating stations were designed to serve settler populations. Governments and developers excluded the Anishinabeg from planning and operations and failed to consider how power production might influence the health and economy of their communities. By so doing, Canada and Ontario thwarted a future that aligned with the terms of treaty, a future in which both settlers and the Anishinabeg might thrive in shared territories.

The same hydroelectric development that powered settler communities flooded manomin fields, washed away roads, and compromised fish populations. Anishinaabe families responded creatively to manage the government-sanctioned environmental change and survive the resulting economic loss. Luby reveals these responses to dam development, inviting readers to consider how resistance might be expressed by individuals and families, and across gendered and generational lines.

Luby weaves text, testimony, and experience together, grounding this historical work in the territory of her paternal ancestors, lands she calls home. With evidence drawn from archival material, oral history, and environmental observation, Dammed invites readers to confront Canadian colonialism in the twentieth century.
Purchase Dammed here
Virtual Event: Skawennati, Greetings from Skyworld
from The Art Museum and the University of Toronto

In Skawennati’s 2017 movie She Falls For Ages, a sci-fi retelling of the Haudenosaunee creation story, Skyworld is headed for doom. In the hope of saving their kind, a brave woman journeys through a portal and lands on Earth. In Greetings from Skyworld, Skawennati imagines that the planet somehow survived and its citizens — our ancestors — have been looking for us ever since. This short, looping, machinima without dialogue relays their message when they find us.

View the film virtually on November 19, 7pm EST.
More information here
Virtual Event: Decolonizing Museums and Collections
from the Art Gallery of Ontario

Join the Art Gallery of Ontario and Art Toronto for an in-depth conversation on the ongoing process of decolonizing collections and shifting institutional space towards greater equity. The discussion will be moderated by Wanda Nanibush, Curator of Indigenous Art at the AGO, and will feature independent and institutional curators from both Canada and the USA – Julie Crooks, Associate Curator, Photography, AGO; Julie Nagam, Canadian Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Collaboration and Digital Media and Associate Professor, University of Winnipeg; Larry Ossei-Mensah, Independent Curator, and Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Director and CEO, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

This is a virtual event on November 3rd, 4pm EST.
Learn more and attend here
Ontario Museums Association Annual Conference 2020 banner
(Image from the Ontario Museums Association)

Virtual Event: Ontario Museum Association Conference and Webinars
from the Ontario Museum Association

This year the Ontario Museum Association Conference is going virtual! With this new format comes new possibilities; the OMA is planning on taking advantage of all a virtual conference can offer.

The OMA 2020 Annual Conference will occur on two Thursdays, October 29 and November 5, and will be accompanied by a webinar series presented on each Tuesday of November.

The OMA Conference program is inspired by the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but also plans to address the many challenges facing museums during the COVID-19 pandemic and social upheaval that have made 2020 an extraordinary year. We look forward to welcoming delegates from across Ontario this fall, and are excited to share our program with you!

Learn more and register here

Call for Virtual Exhibit Proposals

Virtual exhibits can provide context and new ways of understanding GKS items and their relationships, and can share research in accessible, exciting ways. As GRASAC works to engage with and develop resources for broader audiences, members are invited to make virtual exhibit proposals using items from the GKS. 

If you have an idea for a virtual exhibit please identify the GKS item(s) you are interested in with a short description of the topic in an email to There is no deadline for proposals, they will be considered on a rolling basis. Accepted virtual exhibits will be hosted on and web development will be provided.

GRASAC Virtual Exhibitions
Invitation to contribute to future GRASAC newsletters

We are accepting submissions for inclusion in GRASAC’s monthly newsletter. Any submissions related to GRASAC and the interests of members are encouraged! Submission suggestions include GRASAC member news, community happenings and events, exhibition reviews and announcements, calls for papers from relevant journals or conferences, grant opportunities and programs, GKS object highlights and stories, and bios of GRASAC-associated Elders, members, and RAs.

Your submission can be in text, image, or video form, or in the form of links to other accessible platforms. Submission deadlines are the 25th day of each month. Submissions received on or before the 25th will be sent out on the 1st day of the following month.  Please contact Bradley Clements (GRASAC research assistant) at for further information and to submit materials.
View Previous Newsletters
Miigwech, nia:wen, thank you, merci: we hope you have enjoyed these stories!
Copyright belongs to authors, artists, and photographers credited above.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
GRASAC · 140 St. George St. · Toronto, On M5S 3G6 · Canada

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp