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Great Lakes Research Alliance
for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures

April 2020 Newsletter

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

We are excited to share this GRASAC newsletter with you!  We aim for this newsletter to share news and stories by and for all GRASAC members on a monthly basis. Share your GRASAC news here with us (see the invitation to contribute below), and look for new opportunities to be involved in the months ahead!

During these times of "social distancing" and isolation it is so valuable to stay in touch with each other, celebrate good news, request assistance, and be in solidarity.

In this newsletter you will find:
  • GKS and Update, by Heidi Bohaker
  • Fingerweaving Instructions DVD Now Available, by Carol James
  • Invitation to Contribute to the Pitt Rivers Museum North American Cultural Group Names Table, by Meghan Blackhouse
  • Congratulations to Crystal Migwans on joining the faculty at the University of Toronto, by Jovana Jankovic
  • Call for Papers (with new due date), from Cara Krmpotich
  • Invitation to Contribute to Future GRASAC Newsletters, from Bradley Clements
The GRASAC Knowledge Sharing System (GKS).  Screenshot by Bradley Clements.
GKS and Update
by Heidi Bohaker


Our public site of news and research projects:

Our research database:

You might have noticed that the link has been timing out of late. Our aging server which redirects this URL to our public website hosted by Carleton, has been having connectivity issues. You can find the GRASAC public website at Bookmark this link. We are working actively to resolve the problem. Look for a listserv announcement when service to has been restored.

The GKS, our research database, is alive and well, and being hosted now by the University of Toronto in the main data centre. Since we made repairs to the software last summer, we are seeing increased user traffic. Please check us out – we have lots of great research there. If you have forgotten your username and/or password, please write to Haley Bryant (, our fabulous GKS support person, and she'll get you reconnected. You can let Haley know if you encounter any bugs using the software or if you want to add records.

Migration update: This past year we had been exploring Mukurtu as a new option for hosting the GKS. The fantastic library at the University of Toronto was helping us develop a test site, and we prepared 500 test records from the main GKS to explore how we could use this new platform. Unfortunately, we have been unable to get Mukurtu to work with our data in the way we had hoped. We are now pursuing other options and we’ll have news on that in the next newsletter. In the meantime, best wishes for everyone’s good health.
The cover of Fingerweaving Instructions, a new DVD by Carol James.  Image from Carol James.

Fingerweaving Instructions DVD Now Available
by Carol James

Fingerweaving Instructions, the DVD, is now available from Carol James, author of the highly acclaimed instruction book Fingerweaving Untangled.

This is a brand new how-to DVD on the subject of finger weaving. At 2 hours 26 minutes long, it takes you through a step-by-step process, starting with instructions to make an 8-strand bracelet. Instructions progress through the basic 'stitch' and on through a number of patterns, culminating with the arrow-and-lightning pattern. The video features clear close-ups of Carol's fingers moving accompanied with animated patterns. As with the book Fingerweaving Untangled, the video shows you what mistakes look like, how to correct, and how to avoid them in the first place. The video is suitable for beginners as well as experienced weavers.

Order the book and DVD from Carol's website, or stream the video from

Wholesale discounts are available for those who purchase in bulk for re-sale.

The Pitt Rivers Museum main floor.
Invitation to Contribute to the Pitt Rivers Museum North American Cultural Group Names Table
by Meghan Blackhouse
The Pitt Rivers Museum, the University of Oxford’s museum of Ethnography and World Archaeology, has been given the opportunity to update its Cultural Group Names information as part of a wider project to change collections management systems. The goal is to develop a Cultural Group Name database to sit within the new collections management system. This new name database will house several smaller databases relating to different regions of the world. It will contain appropriate, contemporary, terms, especially self-identified terms, as well as lists of clearly identified inappropriate terms. The integration of the Names database into the CMS will be structured so that all terms can be searched, but only a restricted list of terms can be used when improving old entries and creating new entries in the future.
I have completed a first iteration of the North American Cultural Group Name database. A spreadsheet version of it can be found here, along with a Terms of Reference Document:

I would be extremely grateful for any corrections or further suggestions for any of the terminology or other information held within it. You will see on the webpage that I have asked for responses by 31 March, but that date is now 30 April. Please email me directly at the address below.
Please note:
  • The information in the database will, at this time, primarily relate only to Peoples the Museum believes are represented by the collections within its care. (There are some Peoples named who are not represented, but that is the exception rather than the rule.)
  • If you have already sent me a correction, thank you very much. I have not yet amalgamated that information as the deadline for consultation has now been extended.
  • I forgot to mention in the Terms of Reference that in addition to the other sources listed there, I consulted individual Tribal, or similar, websites extensively.
Many thanks for your consideration and input.

Meghan Backhouse
Cultural Group Names Researcher
Pitt Rivers Museum
Photo credit: James Migwans.
Congratulations to Crystal Migwans on joining the faculty at the University of Toronto
by Jovana Jankovic

Congratulations to Professor Crystal Migwans!  This April they will be joining the Faculty of Arts & Science at the University of Toronto as assistant professor of Indigenous Contemporary Art in Canada in the Department of Art History, and as curator at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto.
Read the full story here

Call for Papers (with new due-date)
from Cara Krmpotich

Research as Alliance: Recovering Great Lakes Heritage in the Dish With One Spoon Territory

Book Editors: Margaret Bruchac, Cara Krmpotich

Academic Journal Editors: Heidi Bohaker, Alan Corbiere


The Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures (GRASAC) has long been focused on the challenge of developing innovative research with and for (rather than merely about) Indigenous communities. As a research alliance of university-based, museum-based, and community-based scholars, we navigate important questions of intellectual property, sovereignty, ethical engagement, and reconciliation.

We are currently developing, and requesting contributions to, two new publications: a peer-reviewed edited book focused on collaborative methodologies and research as alliance; and a special academic journal issue focused on members’ research findings. In both, we hope to demonstrate how Indigenous/non-Indigenous alliances can fundamentally shift how we create, govern, share and create knowledge in museums, in universities, and in communities.

The Great Lakes region presents a complex arena for studying alliances, sovereignty, heritage, and knowledge. It has long been a multi-national sphere with distinct cultural and political systems among Indigenous nations (Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat) and between Indigenous and settler nations (France, Britain, Canada, United States). GRASAC's work, which began with surveys of displaced cultural heritage objects in North American and European museums, has always been imagined as recuperative or restorative, rooted in a desire to restore relations between Indigenous knowledges, people, and heritage items. “Reunification” was the earlier term; the terms “recuperative” and “restorative” reflect more recent Indigenous and allied scholarship. In many of our articles and books published in the 1990s and 2000s, we aimed to both study and reunite Indigenous heritage items dispersed globally in museums and archives. Much of that work was focused on correcting errors in historical records, art historical representations, museological categories, and anthropological interpretations.

What we seek now is to collect and share articles that talk and teach about strategies and methods. How can we encourage researchers to more broadly Indigenize and decolonize disciplines and knowledge? How can we center heritage relations, digital sovereignty, economic equity, and environmental sustainability within our research programs? How can we extend these values, which originate in our research with Indigenous communities, to science, social science, and humanities research programs broadly? We hope to address more than merely an Indigenous-settler binary; we hope to model ways to contend with the sovereignties and localized knowledges of multiple Indigenous nations situated around the Great Lakes, and the sometimes idiosyncratic and incommensurable knowledge practices within museums, universities, and communities. We are particularly interested in sharing insights into interdisciplinary and collaborative research methodologies that can put Indigenous and non-Indigenous histories and intellectual traditions into conversation, by weaving together historical research (for example, on treaties, alliances and political expression), heritage research (on displaced objects far from home), and emerging research from museum studies, information, education, and digital humanities.

All proposals are welcomed, especially those that highlight collaborative scholarship with Indigenous youth, artists, and communities. Suggested length for articles, essays, or case studies is 6000 to 9000 words including references and endnotes. Shorter submissions in written form – such as poetry, narrative, art exhibition review, etc. – will also be considered.

Directions for Potential Contributors:

For the edited book on collaborative methodologies, send your proposed article title and abstract (maximum 300 words) to editors Margaret Bruchac at and Cara Krmpotich at by July 1, 2020.

For the academic journal highlighting GRASAC members' research findings, send your proposed article title and abstract (maximum 300 words) to editors Heidi Bohaker at and Alan Corbiere at by July 1, 2020.

If you are not certain which publication is the best fit for your work, please feel free to submit your proposal to both sets of editors.

Invited contributors will be encouraged to attend a virtual writers’ retreat hosted by GRASAC in collaboration with Indigenous community members in Nbissing (Nipissing) Territory, Ontario in the fall of 2020.

Invitation to contribute to future GRASAC newsletters
from Bradley Clements

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.
Miigwech, nia:wen, thank you, merci: we hope you have enjoyed these stories!
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GRASAC · 140 St. George St. · Toronto, On M5S 3G6 · Canada

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