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

July 2020 Newsletter

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

This issue of GRASAC's newsletter is dedicated to Black-Indigenous solidarity and relationships.  Recent months have seen renewed movements for Black and Indigenous life and justice in the face of racist and colonial violence.  We hope that this newsletter can help us as an Alliance to reflect on and strengthen our solidarity in these struggles, now and always.

In this issue you will find a statement and commitment of solidarity from GRASAC's Steering Committee, a family story providing one example of the deep and ongoing histories of Black and Indigenous relations in the Great Lakes region, and a variety of media amplifying voices engaged with the past and future of Black-Indigenous solidarity on Turtle Island.

Special Issue Features:
  • GRASAC Solidarity Statement, by the GRASAC Steering Committee
  • The Bonga Family: An Alternative Black History, by Sherry Farrell-Racette and Cory Willmott
  • Featured Project
  • Featured Writing
  • Featured Podcasts
  • Featured Museum Resources
News:
  • Cornell’s American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program Welcomes a New Director, from Cornell University’s American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program
  • Cottagers and Indians Premier, from Cottagers and Indians
  • Invitation to Contribute to Future GRASAC Newsletters
Spectial Issue Features

GRASAC Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter

by the GRASAC Steering Committee

As an Alliance focused on Great Lakes Indigenous arts and cultures, GRASAC condemns ongoing acts of settler colonial violence, and we stand in solidarity with the African American, Black, Indigenous, Black Native, People of Color, and activists of all marginalized and racialized groups who are demanding justice across Turtle Island. As individuals and a collective, we stand in solidarity with those affected by racism and racist violence, whether perpetrated by individuals, groups, and/or states in the Great Lakes region and beyond. The newest iteration of the fight for Black lives cannot be disentangled from histories and legacies of colonial violence against Native lives in the Great Lakes. Considering in particular that the most recent deaths [at the time of writing] – those of George Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet – were perpetrated in the territory that GRASAC is responsible to, it is imperative that we stand in solidarity with Black communities seeking justice in these lands, and elsewhere across the continent.

GRASAC is planning ways to enact this statement, beginning with training ourselves and devoting our next newsletter to Black-Indigenous relations. We are open to your ideas for building and supporting solidarity, in this moment and going forward.

Black Lives Matter.

Slave Auction, Montreal Gazette, c.1793
The Bonga Family: An Alternative Black History

by Sherry Farrell-Racette and Cory Willmott

It is no coincidence that members of the Bonga family have been honored and memorialized far and wide in recognition of their accomplishments and lives well lived. They stand as exemplars of Black lives that mattered. The Bonga story begins with the little known and seldom told fact of Canadian slavery. From freed Black slaves in the late eighteenth century, men and women of the Bonga family prospered through four generations. Many of them university educated and trilingual, they pursued diverse occupations and held influential positions within the multicultural fur trade society from Hudson Bay in the north to Pembina in the west and Minnesota in the midwest. By the early nineteenth century, one branch of the Bonga family had become intermarried into the Pillager Anishinaabek of Minnesota. As Rebecca Kugel notes, Anishinaabek considered the Bongas “ethnically French” due to their cultural, linguistic and social affinity with French and métis traders. Yet, as American colonizers forced Anishinaabek into reservations after 1855, growing racism in American society fell heavily on the Bongas and Anishinaabek. Prospects for the more recent generations of Bongas were crushed, illustrating all too vividly the insidious impact of racism.
 
The Bonga family story challenges the boxes we build in historiography – who is brought forward – who is forgotten. We don’t think about slavery in Canada. We don’t think about indentured servants. We essentialize the genesis of Métis people into a coming together of generic “Indian” women, “European” fur traders and romantic “French” voyageurs, but the events Pierre Bonga played such a key role in are generally viewed as the crucible from which Métis peoplehood emerged. Men of the African diaspora are not included in that history, and yet one the first children born of a fur trader and Anishinaabe woman on the northern plains was his daughter. Pierre, his sons George and Etienne, his grandson and great-grandson – both named Etienne L’Africain – were labourers, interpreters, and entrepreneurs in the fur trade ecosystem. Pierre’s great-grandson, born in Labrador, educated in Montreal, fought in the Civil War before returning to manage small trading posts in the Quebec-Ontario borderlands with his Algonquin wife. As we tease out their stories, the complications and connections grow.
 
The following vignettes of Bonga family members are a teaser to a Zoom-mini-lecture series that we are producing to be aired through SIUE’s anthropology website in October. Look forward to the inclusion of women! A link to the series will be provided via the November GRASAC Newsletter.
 
Richard Dillon, Jr., Michilimackinac on Lake Huron.  Montreal, 1813.  Colored copperplate engraving by Thomas Hall.  Graphics Division, Clements Library, University of Michigan, ID# 6707.
Jean and Marie Bonga: Freed and Thriving

by Sherry Farrell Racette

In 1782, Jean and Marie Jeanne Bonga, two Francophone slaves, arrived at Michilimackinac with Captain Daniel Robertson, a British officer taking command of the post. The surname Bonga is common in southern Africa and Martinique, meaning “to give thanks” or “to give praise” in Zulu-Swahili. The origins of Robertson’s ownership of the couple is unclear. He was posted to Martinique in 1762, and both he and his wife’s Montreal family were slave owners.
 
Jean and Marie Jeanne left a sparse archive. In 1784 Jean Baptiste Perrault described “an old negro named Bonga carrying a load of wet linen” injured after walking into the path of an escaping murderer. At six-year old Rosalie’s baptism in 1786, her parents were described as “a negro … and … Negress living with monsieur Robertson, Captain, commandant”.
 
In 1787, after leaving his command, Robertson “released” several slaves, including the Bongas, at Mackinac and others in Montreal. The Bongas purchased a house which they transformed into the first regional inn or tavern. In 1794 the couple married and had four children, Etienne (d.1804), Pierre (1777-1831), Rosalie (1782-1834) and Charlotte (1786-1830). Their youngest daughter Charlotte (b. 1786) was baptized on May 4th, 1794. Jean Bonga died the next year (Jan. 20, 1795). Marie Jeanne appears to have returned to Montreal where the family became part of the free Afro-Montreal community.
 
Etienne, employed as a voyageur, died in Montreal in 1804. Rosalie married John Pruyn, a labourer, in 1806, and a child’s funeral in 1808 identified Charlotte as the wife of Jean Baptiste L’Africain, a carpenter. The Bonga sisters may have formed a Montreal support system for their brother Pierre and his children.
 

Pierre Bonga: Into the West (ca. 1775 - 1831)

by Sherry Farrell Racette
 
Born before his parents’ arrival at Michilimackinac, Pierre Bonga began working in the fur trade as a young man, documented with John Sayer’s company at Fond du Lac in 1795, and Alexander Henry the Younger from 1800-1806. Departing from Grand Portage on Lake Superior with the Red River Brigade, Bonga was with Henry in the first canoe, but unlike other men was not assigned a role beyond “my servant” and “negro” suggesting he was a personal servant, rather than an engagé of the North West Company. The brigade traveled to Lake Winnipeg to the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers before establishing a fort near present-day Pembina, North Dakota. Bonga married an Anishiinaabe woman of the Pillager band, and in March 1802, Henry wrote: “Pierre’s wife was delivered of a daughter – the first fruit at this fort and a very black one”. Bonga was given increasing responsibility, placed in charge in 1803 during Henry’s absence. In 1806, Bonga was with a brigade sent to “Kamanistiquia” (Fort William) on Lake Superior. Between 1813-1815 he worked as a “middleman” on brigades shuttling between Montreal and Fort William, before having the job of interpreter added to his voyageur duties. In 1815, he filed a last will and testament with a Montreal notary prior to his departure.
John Herbert Caddy, Old Fort William and the Hudson’s Bay trading post at the mouth of the Kaministikwia River, c. 1853. Library and Archives Canada, C020770.
Bonga’s physical presence and strength were assets during a period of intense, and increasingly violent competition between rival companies. During a trial seeking damages from North West Company partners for destroying a trader’s camp at Grand Portage in 1802, a “negro” working for Archibald Norman McLeod was among the party, described as tearing and burning “a tent to bits”. In 1803 Henry described an XY Company competitor threatening to kill Bonga, writing with satisfaction that the antagonist “did not escape without a sound beating”. In 1816, Bonga was sent from Fort William to seize a packet of documents from couriers dispatched to Montreal by the Earl of Selkirk. He had become a soldier in the fur trade wars.
 
Bonga placed his children under the care of the North West Company partners who employed him. They appear in the St. Gabriel Street Presbyterian Church records among the dozens of fur trade children brought to Montreal to be baptized and educated:  Etienne Bongo, aged seven (1810), Blanche, aged nine and George, aged seven (1811) were described as children of “Pierre Bongo, in the service of the North West Company, by a woman of the Indian Country”. Their sponsors were Angus Shaw and Archibald Norman McLeod. An older son, 14-year old Jean Baptiste, was engaged as an apprentice to McLeod in 1812. Father and son may have worked together at Fort William, perhaps the “two negroes” observed by Ross Cox among the ethnically diverse crowd in 1817.
 
After the merger of the North West and Hudson’s Bay companies in 1821, men like Pierre Bonga were made redundant, although HBC Governor George Simpson described him as a member of a large 1822 expedition sent to explore the South Saskatchewan and Bow River region where the Blackfoot and Gros Ventre found his appearance fascinating. Bonga returned to Fond-du-Lac, where he spent the remainder of his career working for the American Fur Company, living comfortably among the Anishiinaabek with his wife and children.
 
Primary Sources:

St. Gabriel Street, Presbyterian, Montreal, Ancestry.com. Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA, 2008. Original data: Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.

Last Will and Testament, Pierre Bonga, May 1815, Répertoires de notaires, Montreal, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Quebec, 62.

Name Index: NWC Records, Account Books (1795-1827) online index https://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives/hbca/name_indexes/nwc_accounts.html Pierre Bonga NWC Ledger nd. F.4/32 fo. 95.
 
Secondary Sources:

Cox, Ross, The Columbia River or Scenes and Adventures during A Residence of Six Years on the Western Side of the Rocky Mountains, Vol. 2 (London: Colburn and Bentley, 1831), 293.

Gough, Barry, The Journal of Alexander Henry the Younger 1799-1814 Vol. 1: Red River and the Journey to the Missouri (Toronto: Champlain Society and University of Toronto Press, 1988).

Harper, Mattie M. (2012). French Africans in Ojibwe Country: Negotiating Marriage, Identity and Race, 1780-1890. UC Berkeley. ProQuest ID: Harper_berkeley_0028E_12661. Merritt ID: ark:/13030/m5r2157g. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/1zm0f6rt

Mackey, Frank, Done with Slavery: the Black Fact in Montreal: 1760-1840 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010): 198-199.

Morrison, Jean, Superior Rendezvous-Place: Fort William in the Canadian Fur Trade (Toronto: Natural Heritage Books, 2007), 109.

Nute, Grace Lee, “A British Legal Case and Old Grand Portage”, Minnesota History 21, no. 2 (June 1940): 127-128.

Simpson, George, An Overland Journey Round the World: During the Years 1841 and 1842 (Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1847), 58.
 
George Bonga, St. Paul, Minnesota, c. 1865, by Charles Zimmerman (MNHS Neg. #94486).
George Bonga (1802-1874) – A Life of Trading, Translation and Transition

by Cory Willmott

Born into the heart of the Great Lakes fur trade on Michilimackinac, George grew up fluent in English, French and Anishinaabemowin. This skill laid the foundation for his life of trading and interpreting for the first three quarters of the nineteenth century. After gaining an education in Montreal, he entered the fur trade as a voyager at an early age. In 1820, the 18-year-old George served as interpreter to Lewis Cass on his search for the headwaters of the Mississippi at Lake Itasca. He worked for John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company, where his strength and ability helped him rise quickly through the ranks. In 1830, he became a licensed trader in Leech Lake, Otter Tail Point and Platte Lake. The missionary Edmund Ely, stationed at Fond du Lac, provides first-hand insight into George’s daily life in the 1830s. With other prominent traders, he travelled throughout Minnesota carrying goods, furs and information. George also participated in mission services and helped to arrange meetings with chiefs. Ely benefited from his endorsement and praised his interpreting ability. Rev. Henry Whipple also praised George, writing that “No word could be better trusted than that of George Bonga.” Also having the trust of the area’s traders, when William Aitkin’s son was fatally shot by an Anishinaabe man, he asked George to track him and bring him in. This George did in the dead of winter, after the initial search party failed. Ironically, he was acquitted because young Aitkin was mixed blood.
 
During the 1840s, George and his Anishinaabe wife, Ashwewin, had their first child, James (b.1841), followed by Peter (1847-1914), William (1850-1909), Susan (1852-1939) and Georgeance (“Little George” 1868-1930). In the 1850s, George worked for the Leech Lake Indian agent, serving as interpreter and superintendent of the government farm. By the 1860s, he reimagined himself as a “Dry Goods Merchant” to keep up with the changing face of retail in the sedentary reservation lifestyle. He was among the wealthy half-breed traders who settled at Leech Lake, acquiring real estate and doubling his “personal worth” from $2,000 in 1860 to $4,000 in 1870. He was the third wealthiest person at the agency, only surpassed by the brother of the Indian Agent and the town’s physician.
 
In 1867, Bonga was among the interpreters who helped negotiate the treaty that created the White Earth reservation. In the spring of 1868, conflict broke out between the Gull Lake chiefs Gwiiwizens (Hole-in-the-Day II) and Waabaanakwad (White Cloud) over when to move there. George wrote Bishop Henry Whipple that Gwiiwizens was “playing his old hand (when he does not get good money) in an underhanded way to try to prevent the Indians from going [to White Earth] only when he thinks proper.” Through none of George’s doing, Gwiiwisens was murdered a few weeks later, and some years later George’s son William joined Waabaanakwad’s followers at White Earth. George’s offspring married among prominent Anishinaabek and métis families, thereby consolidating and continuing their prosperity into future generations. George’s lifelong allegiance to Anishinaabe leaders who favored assimilation will remain contentious, but his personal success as an African American entrepreneur and diplomat can never be disputed.
 

William Bonga (1850-1909) – A Life Among the Reservation Elite

by Cory Willmott
 
William Bonga’s childhood years were spent near the government establishment at Leech Lake Reservation, where his father, George Bonga, was superintendent of the government farm. He attended school there with his younger sister, Susie, while his older brother, James, worked as a farm hand. Sela G. Wright, who oversaw the farm, had been sent by a missionary outcropping of Oberlin College, a liberal arts university that promoted the abolition of slavery. Young William was coming of age after the massive land cessions of the 1855 Treaty of La Pointe put an end to the fur trade economy. In 1866, he was 16 years old when the first permanent agency buildings went up at Leech Lake.
The Old Agency Buildings at White Oak Point, Leech Lake, Minnesota, c.1900 (MNHS E97.7L p9, Neg. #14250).
By the 1860s, William’s former fur trader father had left the farm and entered the mercantile business. Brother James was working for him as a clerk. In 1868, corrupt government agent, Charles Ruffee, with his associates John G. Morrison and Clement Beaulieu, hired a group of Leech Lake warriors to assassinate the famous Gull Lake chief, Gwiiwizens (Hole-in-the-Day II). The head chief at Leech Lake, Nigone Benais (Flat Mouth II), refused to hand the assassin warriors over to authorities. As a member of Nigone Benais’ band, these events must have formed a lasting impression on William. In 1870, he and another former fur trader’s son were boarding with Sela Wright’s wife at her home in Lorain, Ohio, while attending Oberlin College.
“William Bonga, Leech Lake Chippewa Indian, part negro, Educated” Unknown photographer, c.1900.
(MNHS E97.1B r7 (Locator Number)
14252 (Negative Number)
Returning to Leech Lake, William found a budding lumber town with a hotel and tavern. It was overrun with civil engineers in the initial planning stages of building a series of dams that would aid the transport of lumber while flooding Anishinaabe subsistence resources. While this was developing, William married Eminwayqua (Nettie) and they had their first child, Equasaince, the same year that his father died (1874). The couple had three more children, Odanah (Mary) in 1877, Simon John in 1880 and Joseph in 1885. That same year, tensions over the government dams came to a crisis with plots to assassinate Nigone Benais, which drove him out of town. William is reported saying he would “raise the tomahawk” if the issue were not settled, possibly in his role as a private in the newly appointed Indian police force.
 
His mother died in 1889, and his family joined the Leech Lakers who accepted allotments at White Earth. Joining Waabaanakwad’s (Chief White Cloud AKA D.G. Wright) advance guard of 1868, William moved his family to White Earth in 1890, although they did not inhabit the allotted plots until 1900. Now a government interpreter, William wrote numerous letters advocating Anishinaabe treaty rights. In 1899, he and his cousin Paul Bonga were interpreters for a delegation to Washington led by Nigone Benais, who had returned to Leech Lake in the aftermath of the Bear Island War in which an estimated handful of Anishinaabe warriors triumphed over three hundred US armed forces.
Top left to right: Paul Bonga, unknown, Gemiwunac (Bird That Flies Through the Rain), Commissioner Darwin S. Hall, unknown, William Bonga; Bottom left to right: Wabununi (White Feather), Negoni Benais, Gegwejiwebinung (Trying To Throw Out) and Gayshiqonnayyash (Swift Feather), By De Lancey Gill, 1899 (NAA BAE GN 00520C 06141800)
From 1890 until his death in 1909, William lived and worked at White Earth with his wife and children, close to the Indian agency and surrounded by other prominent Anishinaabe and métis families, such as the Wrights, Warrens, Roys, and Bellangers. Ethnically Anishinaabe or métis, the foremost culture wars of his lifetime were those among Anishinaabek, métis and whites, not between whites and blacks.
 
Primary Sources:

Census and other data assembled by Cory Willmott in The Bonga Family Tree on Ancestry.com: https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/169689047/family/familyview?cfpid=212197924522&selnode=1.
 
Treaty with the Chippewa of the Mississippi, March 17, 1867 (https://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Treaties/TreatyWithTheChippewaOfTheMississippi1867.html, Accessed June 20, 2020).
 
Secondary Sources:

Bigglestone, William E. 1976. Oberlin College and the Beginning of the Red Lake Mission. Minnesota History 45(1): 21-31.
 
Brown, Curt. 2015. MN History: Unflappable fur trader was at heart of state’s first murder case. Star Tribune, April 14 (https://www.startribune.com/unflappable-fur-trader-was-at-heart-of-state-s-first-murder-case/299456961/, Accessed June 20, 2020).
 
Diedrich, Mark. 1999. Ojibway Chiefs: Portraits of Anishinaabe Leadership. Rochester, MN: Coyote Books.
 
Ely, Edmund F. 2012. The Ojibwe Journals of Edmund F. Ely, 1833-1849. Theresa Schenck, ed. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press.
 
Kugel, Rebecca. 2007. “Leadership within the Women’s Community: Susie Bonga Wright of the Leech Lake Ojibwe.” In Native Women’s History in Eastern North America before 1900: A Guide to Research and Writing. Rebecca Kugel and Lucy Eldersveld Murphy, eds. Pp.166-200. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press.
 
------- 1998. To Be the Main Leaders of Our People: A History of Minnesota Ojibwe Politics, 1825-1898. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.
 
Treuer, Anton. 2011. The Assassination of Hole in the Day. St. Paul, MN: Minneapolis Historical Society Press.
(Image from Proclaiming Our Roots)
Featured Project: Proclaiming Our Roots

"The Proclaiming Our Roots project is aimed at honoring the histories, realities, stories and experiences of people who are of African diasporic and Indigenous ancestry, and who reside on Turtle Island."

"The Proclaiming Our Roots project afforded individuals, who all identified as having Indigenous and Black ancestry, the opportunity to create their own digital stories or personal videos. Digital stories combine sound, image, video, and text to convey personal experiences. In centering their stories and voices, and sharing their testimonies on their terms, participants reverse the colonial gaze, exhibiting their self determination, and they highlighted topics that were important to them such as identity politics, lateral violence and discrimination, and health and wellbeing." ~ Proclaiming Our Roots
 
Learn more here
Featured Writing
(Image from the Yellowhead Institute)

To Breathe Together: Co-Conspirators for Decolonial Futures, by Sefanit Habtom and Megan Scribe

"Amid police violence and responses from those who believe Black Lives Matter, Sefanit Habtom and Megan Scribe reflect on the shared experiences, but also differences, among Black, Indigenous and Black-Indigenous people so that we might breathe together." ~ The Yellowhead Institute
 

Read here
Otherwise Worlds (image from Duke University Press).
Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness, edited by Tiffany Lethabo King, Jenell Navarro, & Andrea Smith

"The contributors to Otherwise Worlds investigate the complex relationships between settler colonialism and anti-Blackness to explore the political possibilities that emerge from such inquiries. Pointing out that presumptions of solidarity, antagonism, or incommensurability between Black and Native communities are insufficient to understand the relationships between the groups, the volume's scholars, artists, and activists look to articulate new modes of living and organizing in the service of creating new futures. Among other topics, they examine the ontological status of Blackness and Indigeneity, possible forms of relationality between Black and Native communities, perspectives on Black and Indigenous sociality, and freeing the flesh from the constraints of violence and settler colonialism. Throughout the volume's essays, art, and interviews, the contributors carefully attend to alternative kinds of relationships between Black and Native communities that can lead toward liberation. In so doing, they critically point to the importance of Black and Indigenous conversations for formulating otherwise worlds." ~ Duke University Press
 
More information here
Wounded Knee and the Murder of George Floyd, by Layli Long Soldier

In this poignant essay, Lakota author Layli Long Soldier meditates on her ancestors' experiences of colonial violence, her own memories, the loss of George Floyd's life, and the ways that "On this land, our histories overlap, but in some ways, they are distinct."
 
Read here
There Have Always Been Two Canadas, by Tanya Talaga

"Black and Indigenous people have shared the trauma of colonialism, dispossession and police violence," writes Tanya Talaga, Anishinaabekwe author of Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City. She calls settlers to account and to action in this opinion piece on lethal institutional racism in the Great Lakes region and across Turtle Island.
 
Read here
Featured Podcasts
The Henceforward Podcast

"The Henceforward is a podcast that considers relationships between Indigenous Peoples and Black Peoples on Turtle Island," begun by Eve Tuck through her course Decolonization, Settler Colonialism and Antiblackness. Of particular relevance to the current movement for Black and Indigenous life and justice may be episodes about the policing of Black lives, Black and Indigenous social movements, race, identity, and the history of police violence against Black and Indigenous peoples in the Twin Cities, art as resistance, and self-care.
 
Listen here
(Image from Medicine for the Resistance).
Medicine for the Resistance

This podcast covers a wide range of topics including Black and Indigenous identitylanguageBlack history, Indigenous artpolice abolition, and beyond, all with Black and Indigenous hosts and acclaimed guests.
 
Listen here
"A Conversation about Race, Privilege, and Making Space" episode re-broadcast on Unreserved

Unreserved on CBC re-broadcast this conversation between BIPOC scholars and leaders (Alexis McGill Johnson, Natan Obed, Ijeoma Oluo, and Saskia Sassen, moderated by Rosanna Deerchild) as a reflection on identity and solidarity in the face of injustice.
 
Listen here
(Image from Dish with One Mic).
Dish with One Mic interview with Patty Krawec

In this interview Patty Krawec speaks about the Fort Erie Friendship Centre's support for Black Lives Matter, inter-relations of Black and Indigenous communities, solidarity across the Canada-US border, and calling out racism against Black and Indigenous peoples.
 
Listen here
Anti-Racist Educator Reads series on The Skin We're In

Anishinaabekwe Colinda Clyne hosts discussions on racial justice books with a range of guests on this podcast. The first of these books is The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole, whose writing has sparked Canada-wide conversations about anti-Black racism and policing.
 
Listen here
The Secret Life of Canada

Hosted by Falen Johnson, who is Tuscarora and Mohawk, and Leah-Simone Bowen, who is of Barbadian decent, The Secret Life of Canada tells the too-often-overlooked histories of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour.
 
Listen here
Moment of Truth interview with Mikinaak Migwans

In this interview GRASAC member Mikinaak Migwans discusses art, activism, and solidarity, as well as their research and goals for their new appointment at the University of Toronto Art Museum and Department of Art History.
 
Listen here
Featured Museum Resources

Talking About Race, from the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian has developed a guide for having important conversations about race. It includes components for educators, parents, and other interested community members, and may be a useful resource or model for other museums and cultural centres seeking to engage staff and visitors in conversations about race and anti-racism.
 
View here
Museums and Equity in Times of Crisis, from the American Alliance of Museums

In this resource Andrew Plumley, Director of Inclusion at the American Alliance of Museums, makes suggestions for how museum leadership can support their staff during times like those we are currently living in.
 
View here
Conceptions of White, from the Art Museum at the University of Toronto

"In the midst of global and local uprisings against the systemic violence perpetrated upon Black, Indigenous and racialized communities, John Hampton and Lillian O’Brien Davis are sharing some resources from their active research for our joint winter 2022 exhibition Conceptions of White. The exhibition looks at the origins, travel, and present reality of 'whiteness' as a concept and racial invention for classifying degrees of humanity and justifying discrimination  throughout all our social structures."
 
View here
News
Kurt Jordan (image from Cornell University’s American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program).

Cornell’s American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program Welcomes a New Director

from Cornell University’s American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program

In December 2019, Cornell University’s American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP) thanked its outgoing Director, Associate Professor and visual historian Jolene Rickard, for her leadership in expanding the academic mission of the program, her dedication to students, faculty and Indigenous communities and her service over the preceding eight years. In January 2020, AIISP welcomed a new Director, Associate Professor and archaeologist Kurt Jordan. Prof. Jordan's research centers on the archaeology of Haudenosaunee peoples, emphasizing seventeenth- and eighteenth-century engagements between the Haudenosaunee and European settlers, as well as the long-term scope of Indigenous occupation in what is now Central New York. 

 Jordan’s current project centers on the White Springs site, a circa 1688-1715 Onöndowa'ga:' (Seneca) town site near present-day Geneva, New York. Archaeological data from this site provide direct evidence of Seneca resilience in the face of the 1687 French-led Denonville invasion, and how the community rebuilt and endured a difficult time period. GRASAC selected Jordan’s White Springs and Townley-Read excavations as a pilot project for SSHRC “Growing GRASAC” Partnership Development Grant. A website developed in partnership with the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum and the Cornell Library will be released later this summer.

As AIISP Director, Prof. Jordan will work to bolster the number of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students involved with AIISP. The program will continue to cultivate its relationships with Haudenosaunee and other Indigenous communities, provide a welcoming space for Indigenous students, and support research and teaching that promotes Indigenous knowledge, autonomy, and visibility on the world stage.

Drew Hayden Taylor (image from @Cottagersindian).
Cottagers and Indians Premier

from Cottagers and Indians

Cottagers And Indians Documentary Premieres on CBC July 4th at 8PM. Drew Hayden Taylor, an award-winning author and humourist, explores the conflict over planting wild rice in the Kawarthas.
 
Watch Trailer
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 communications assistant) at grasac.pm@utoronto.ca for further information and to submit materials.
 
View previous newsletters here
Miigwech, nia:wen, thank you, merci: we hope you have enjoyed these stories!
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