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

November 2021 Newsletter

A theme in this newsletter is recognition: recognition of treaties, and recognition of accomplishments.

November 1st to 7th is the sixth annual Treaty Recognition Week in Ontario, a reminder for Ontario residents to learn and honour treaty responsibilities. You can find many events and resources for the coming week below.

GRASAC also extends warm congratulations to members, friends, and past and present research assistants for a range of recent accomplishments, and we welcome an incoming team of research assistants.

But this is only the beginning! Read on for more exhibitions, events, and GRASAC developments.

Stories in this issue:
  • Saying Goodbye to Carleton and ICSLAC: Decommissioning the former GKS Servers and Moving the Archive
  • Welcome to New GRASAC RAs
  • Woodlands: Native American Art from St. Louis Collections and "Cosmic Geometry in Anishinaabe Textiles"
  • Accomplishments & Recognitions
    • Jeffery Hewitt Designated as Indigenous Peoples Counsel
    • Congratulations to the Digital Humanities 4th Annual Conference Best Graduate Paper Award Recipients
    • Congratulations to Lindsay Keegitah Borrows on her Appointment at Queen's Law
  • Treaties Recognition Week Events and Resources
    • New GRASAC Great Lakes Treaty Timeline
    • Robinson Huron Treaty Week Events
    • Ontario Treaty Recognition Week Events and Communications Toolkit
    • Polishing the Chain
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The tape backup system, powering down for the last time, after all the tapes have been ejected and transferred to storage.

Saying Goodbye to Carleton and ICSLAC: Decommissioning the former GKS Servers and Moving the Archive
by Heidi Bohaker

For those of you who have been members of GRASAC since its inception in 2005, and who were at the founding meeting at Carleton University hosted by Ruth Phillips, you may remember a tour of our then newly-constructed server closet and the rack-mounted servers that held the first instance of the GKS database. The servers were located at Carleton’s Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture, where Ruth, GRASAC’s first director, had her office. These servers and their later upgrades, all funded by Ruth’s grants, hosted subsequent versions of the GKS, and the climate controlled archive room was where all paper documentation of the project, and backups of all the many photographs taken on research trips, were stored.

In 2019, just before the COVID pandemic and with Ruth’s retirement looming, we began the process of moving the project and its documentation to the University of Toronto. We successfully moved the database and all the digital data before COVID hit, but the physical servers remained in Ottawa along with the archival material. Due to COVID restrictions, we were then unable to access ICSLAC to complete the decommissioning work.

During that time, we had to shut down the servers because we no longer had an IT person on site to perform maintenance.  But we still needed to power the servers back on, verify that all project data had been properly backed up and shipped to Toronto, and then wipe the server hard drives before the machines could be repurposed to other Carleton University units, and the remaining GRASAC presence within ICSLAC formally shut down. Fortunately, Claude Morin, one of the IT professionals who had originally installed the first servers back in 2005, volunteered to complete the work pro bono.

The server rack, just before the decommissioning process started.
Thanks to the diligent efforts of former GRASAC project manager Kate Higginson, we were able to do this work on the weekend of October 23-24 with the on-site assistance of Adam Milling, from Carleton’s Department of Art History, as Art History would be acquiring one of the remaining servers. (Others will find a new life in other departments or be recycled as some components are well past their service life).

Claude, Adam and Kate worked long hours on both days, communicating regularly with Heidi in Toronto.  A likely descendant of one of the groundhogs present at the first GRASAC Carleton meeting made an appearance on the lawn outside of ICSLAC on the Saturday, but he did not volunteer his services. For those stuck working inside, it was a trip down memory lane looking at email logs, photos and earlier versions of the GKS in various server files. A complete inventory of all files was compared against what had already been transferred to Toronto. The computer drives were then wiped, and the servers removed from the rack and  prepared to be sent on their way. And late Sunday afternoon Adam and Kate helped Claude load 14 archival boxes of GRASAC history into the car, and they are now safely in storage at the University of Toronto.

Thanks to everyone who helped conclude this founding chapter in GRASAC’s history, and especially to Kate, Adam and Claude.
A groundhog, outside of the ICSLAC conference room.
Welcome to New GRASAC RAs

Please join GRASAC in welcoming our newest research assistants (RAs), Aidan Mitchell-Boudreau, Lisa Owl, and Amelia Healey, and returning RAs Sheila Annettee Wheesk and Chantel Tam! Thank you to the new RAs for providing the following introductions:

Aidan Mitchell-Boudreau

I’m a Métis third year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto majoring in Ethics, Society, and Law. My areas of interest include the preservation of indigenous heritage, sacred music and sound, and the modernization of Canadian and international privacy law in light of indigenous values and the protection of children. I’ll be assisting the GRASAC team with records management and copyright clearance on the existing research database.

Lisa Owl

My name is Lisa Owl and I am from Sagamok Anishinawbek First Nation on the beautiful shores of the Lake Huron region. My home community is part of the Robinson Huron Treaty and I am Eagle Clan. I am also a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto taking a Specialist in Indigenous Studies and Minor in Women & Gender Studies.

Amelia Healey

My name is Amelia and I am an MA student in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. Before coming to U of T, I completed my Honours BA in History with a minor in Canadian Studies at the University of Ottawa. The research that I intend to pursue during my MA includes the material history of settler-Indigenous treaty-making in the Great Lakes region during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As an RA with GRASAC, I’m looking forward to working with records in the GKS database, gaining more knowledge about the heritage items present there, and researching copyright questions.

A heavily beaded bandolier bag with geometric designs.
Anishinaabe; "Bandolier Bag", c.1880; glass beads, wool yarn, wool cloth, and cotton cloth; 25 x 9 1/2 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of Toby Herbst and Danielle Foster-Herbst in loving memory of Lorenz Kneedler Ayers and Anna Marguerite Spackman Ayers 201:2017
Woodlands: Native American Art from St. Louis Collections
from Alex Marr

At the Saint Louis Art Museum from October 29 through April 24, 2022, Woodlands features rarely seen works from local private collectors, neighboring institutions, and the Museum’s own collection. The first exhibition at the Museum to survey historic and modern textiles, sculpture and graphic art by Indigenous artists from eastern North America, Woodlands expands the geographic scope of Native North American art displayed in the galleries.

Most works date to the 19th Century, an era of territorial and ecological transformation when artists developed a robust souvenir industry and reconfigured earlier modes of self-adornment to incorporate alternative media. The exhibition also includes 20th century baskets, quill boxes, and clothing from the Great Lakes, Atlantic Coast, and Southeast, and a late-20th century drawing by Norval Morrisseau. To view a selection of images from the exhibition, please visit the Museum’s press release (link here).

Public Presentation: “Sacred Geometry in Anishinaabe Textiles,” by Cory Willmott

In “Sacred Geometry in Anishinaabe Textiles,” Cory Willmott, professor of cultural anthropology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, will explore spiritual symbolism of geometric motifs woven into Anishinaabe textiles. This virtual talk is November 5 at noon (central time), in association with the exhibition Woodlands: Native American Art from St. Louis Collections. To attend, please register.
Register Here
A photo of Jeffery Hewitt wearing a colourful blanket in front of a large painting. In front of him is a certificate on a table, to his right is a singing drummer, and to his left is David Nahwegahbow.
Image from the Indigenous Bar Association.

Jeffery Hewitt Designated as Indigenous Peoples Legal Counsel
from the Indigenous Bar Association

The Indigenous Bar Association is honoured to designate Jeffrey Hewitt as Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel (IPC) at the 33rd Annual Conference of the Indigenous Bar Association. Each year, the IPC designation is given to an Indigenous lawyer in recognition of their outstanding achievements in the practice of law. Specifically, it honours those individuals who have worked to advance the goals and objectives of the IBA and who have served their community and the Creator with honour and integrity. 

Jeffery Hewitt, a Cree legal scholar and practitioner, has devoted his professional career to promoting the rights and responsibilities of Indigenous Peoples, re-shaping legal education in the pursuit of greater understanding of Indigenous rights and legal orders, and in the course of which has elevated the dialogue amongst the Indigenous and non-Indigenous bar and judiciary. 

IBA President Drew Lafond commented that “Jeffrey’s deep commitment to advocating for the recognition of legal pluralism while supporting Indigenous communities to reclaim and strengthen their laws and traditions embodies what the IPC designation is all about. He is a legal warrior in every sense of the word, educating the hearts and minds of future generations of lawyers in Canada regarding Indigenous Peoples rights and responsibilities. It is an honour to be able to recognize and celebrate Jeff’s achievements—particularly for someone who’s trademark humility and quiet dedication to advancing justice for Indigenous Peoples means he is rarely in the spotlight.” 

Mr. Hewitt has served as General Counsel and Community Legal Researcher to the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, during which time the General Counsel’s Office received a 2011 Canadian General Council Award for Social Responsibility for work with First Nation Elders and youth. He has led countless seminars and continuing legal education sessions on topics such as Indigenous Legal Orders and Courtroom Inquiries; Judicial Ethics in the Courtroom, Indigenous Peoples and the Performance of Law; Reconciling Through Art and Law; Constitutional Law, Legal Pluralism and the Economy; among others and is a fixture and much sought-after speaker at the IBA Annual Conference each year. He has also been the recipient of numerous teaching awards and published extensively in the areas of constitutionalism, Indigenous rights and legal orders, decolonization, restorative justice and reconciliation. 

Mr. Hewitt was welcomed by the 22 other legal warriors who have previously received the IPC designation during the IBA’s 2021 Annual Conference (held virtually this year due to the COVID19 pandemic) and was blanketed by IPCs David C. Nahwegahbow and Dianne Corbiere in a small, private event held in the traditional territory of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation. The IBA looks forward to celebrating together with Mr. Hewitt in person as soon as public health orders and the safety of our communities permits. 

For more information about the Indigenous Bar Association please visit

Congratulations to the Digital Humanities 4th Annual Conference Best Graduate Paper Award Recipients
from the University of Toronto Digital Humanities Network

Best Graduate Paper Award: Shenella Charles, Autumn Epple, Carlie Manners, and Sheila Wheesk (with Heidi Bohaker and Cara Krmpotich) 

This year's conference hosted a wide array of compelling papers, posters, and lightning talks, including exemplary presentations by graduate and undergraduate students. The awardees were selected based on their presentations' clarity, ability to engage other participants, excellence fielding questions, and contributions to the critical digital humanities and the speakers' respective research fields. Full abstract details and biographies of award recipients can be found below:

"Rethinking Digital Research Infrastructures: Mobilizing the Great Lakes Research Alliance’s Knowledge Sharing Database for the 21st Century"

The Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts & Cultures (GRASAC) is a vibrant multi-disciplinary research network whose 500+ members have been researching Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Huron-Wendat cultures of the Great Lakes region of Turtle Island since 2005. GRASAC researchers from Indigenous communities, universities, museums, and archives have worked together to locate, study, and create deeper understandings of Great Lakes arts, languages, identities, territoriality, and governance. GRASAC is two related things: a network of people and a database that digitally reunites Great Lakes materials from around the world, putting heritage items back into relationships with each other and with community members, teachers, researchers, and heritage staff. 

This presentation discusses the significant DH challenges we have faced working with different ontologies, trying to reimagine how Eurocentric database structures can effectively care for Indigenous knowledges across multiple different cultures, languages and sovereignties. The different insights and perspectives shared by our team members are a critical praxis for our new database. In this presentation, our RAs will each share a story of the issues and questions raised by their work on the database revitalization project, and the important ethical and pedagogical transformations that occur when we stop thinking of data as objects, but rather as aspects of our relatives to whom we owe a duty of care. Indigenizing the Record involves both a technological reframing and a clear ethical stance, grounded in the treaty and alliance law which lives in the lands and waters of the Great Lakes region. 

Shenella Charles is a PhD candidate in the Department of History. Lokono herself, she is researching the history of Lokono struggles for land rights and autonomy in Guyana postIndependence (1966 to the present). 

Autumn Epple is an M.A. student in the Department of History. Autumn, whose home community is the Mohawks of Akwesasne, recently completed her Major Research Paper, “A Kanien’kehá:ka Call to Arms in ‘the Land Where the Partridge Drums’: Akwesasne in the Second World War.” She has a strong research interest in the use of material culture as a source of history. Autumn begins her PhD in history at York University this fall. 

Carlie Manners’s doctoral research explores Afro-Caribbean religious and spiritual practices in the nineteenth-century Anglo-Atlantic world. Her project investigates the role of ritual objects and other forms of religious material culture in syncretic ritual practioning, and the discourses of primitivism used to identify such objects in colonial institutions. 

Sheila Wheesk is an M.A. student in the Department of History. Sheila, who is from Taykwa Tagamou First Nation, researches the role of women in Omushkegowuk governance before and after the signing of Treaty No. 9. She uses material culture, particularly women’s beadwork, as a source to investigate how women continued to take up their responsibilities in the face of state legislation (the Indian Act) which marginalized them.
Portrait photo of Lindsay Keegitah Borrows.
Lindsay Keegitah Borrows. Image from Queen's Law,
Congratulations to Lindsay Keegitah Borrows on her Appointment at Queen's Law
from Queen's Law

Lindsay Keegitah Borrows, an Anishinaabe lawyer, researcher, teacher, and PhD candidate, focuses her work on revitalizing Indigenous legal traditions for use in contemporary settings. She’ll be continuing her burgeoning and influential academic career at Queen’s Law when she takes up her new faculty post on July 1, 2022. 

“Within the world of Indigenous legal studies, Lindsay is at a scholarly cutting edge,” says Dean Mark Walters. “She brings to us knowledge, skills, and experiences that will be invaluable as we build a program in Indigenous legal studies and as we work to fulfil our responsibilities as a law school relating to reconciliation.”
Read More
New GRASAC Great Lakes Treaty Timeline
from Bradley Clements

Concurrent with Treaty Recognition Week, GRASAC is launching a new learning resource: a Great Lakes Treaty Timeline! This timeline is intended for treaty education and research. It is not complete or authoritative, and it will be continuously grown. All GRASAC members and visitors are invited to add and correct information in the timeline through GRASAC's contact form.

Many GRASAC-affiliated researchers are dedicated to increased understanding and fulfilment of Great Lakes treaty responsibilities. Through our work we have compiled information and located sources about these treaties. Part of GRASAC's role is to make information about Great Lakes art, history, culture, and relationships more accessible. It is in this spirit of access and learning that GRASAC is developing the Great Lakes Treaty Timeline.

The main resource page is in the form of a timeline table with basic information about a range of treaties and associated events in chronological order. You can view it here:
Great Lakes Treaty Timeline
As the resource is developed, pages will be added with additional information and sources about the listed treaties and events. You can view a preliminary example of one such page here:
Great Peace of Montréal
I hope that you will follow the development of this resource, use it, share it, and send in your thoughts, suggestions, corrections, and additions. Miigwetch, nia:wen, merci, thank you!
Robinson Huron Treaty Week Events
from Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin

Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin has a full schedule of online Treaty Recognition Week events, opening at 11 am on November 1st and running through November 5th. Click the button below to see the full schedule and join in through Zoom or YouTube.
View Here
Ontario Treaty Recognition Week Events and Communications Toolkit
from Jessie King

Ontario is marking the sixth annual Treaties Recognition Week this year, taking place from November 1 – 7, 2021.

Treaties Recognition Week was introduced in 2016 to honour the importance of treaties and to help students and residents of Ontario learn more about treaty rights, treaty relationships and their relevance today.

We've developed a number of virtual Living Library events where Indigenous Elders and knowledge keepers share their perspectives and experiences around treaties with elementary, secondary and postsecondary students, and the public. Check out the various events listed below or on and register today to get a greater understanding of the importance of treaties in Ontario. We appreciate you sharing event details with your networks!
View Here
Recording of the first session of Polishing the Chain: "The Symbolic Language of Wampum Diplomacy" with Alan Ojiig Corbiere, Rick Hill, and Ange Loft.
Polishing the Chain
from York University Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change

What does it mean to be a treaty person in Toronto?

Toronto is the traditional territory of the Wendat, Anishnaabeg and Haudenosaunee Confederacies. It is also one of the most culturally diverse cities on Earth. There is a web of historical treaties that were negotiated on these lands - agreements that hold continued relevance and possibility for the present.

This EUC seminar-series aptly titled "Polishing the Chain" is a Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 conversation series that brings together Indigenous and allied scholars, knowledge holders, artists, earth workers and activists to explore the historical significance and contemporary relevance of the treaties Indigenous nations in Southern Ontario have made with each other, with the Land, and with the Crown. Organized by Professor Martha Stiegman with York student Tara Chandran, the seminar-series explore the spirit and intent of Toronto treaties, the ways Indigenous peoples have and continue to uphold them, the extent to which they are (and are not) reflected in contemporary Indigenous / state relations, and consider treaty responsibilities as both settler and Indigenous Torontonians.

More Information Here
Recording of the second session of Polishing the Chain: "Taking Care of the Dish: Treaties, Indigenous Law and Environmental Justice" with Deborah McGregor, Carolyn Crawley, and Adrienne Lickers Xavier.
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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