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

December 2021 Newsletter

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

In this newsletter you will find news from, about, and of interest to GRASAC members and subscribers.
 
Note that there will not be a January newsletter this year to ensure that contributors can rest over the holidays. In the meantime, please send any news and stories that you would like to share to grasac.pm@utoronto.ca for distribution through social media or future newsletters. See you in 2022!

Stories in this issue:
  • GRASAC’s “Mobile Community Research Kits” are on the Move 
  • University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology Renews Commitment to GRASAC Network
  • aabaakwad 2021
  • Robert Houle: Red is Beautiful
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Chantel Tam kneeling to photograph a plant in a garden
Chantal Tam photographing plants at Kahontake Kitikan Garden, photograph by Cara Krmpotich.

GRASAC’s “Mobile Community Research Kits” are on the Move
by Cara Krmpotich

The twenty “Mobile Community Research Kits” being built by GRASAC to support digital cultural heritage work and digital cultural production in communities are taking their first steps. On November 8, GRASAC invited a small number of research assistants and friends to test out the equipment, provide feedback on the user guides being developed, and discuss aspects of Indigenous data management and sovereignty.

Joining us for the test run were Stacy Allison-Cassin (Métis; assistant professor; librarian; and Wiki data expert), Sheila Wheesk (Cree, Taykwa Tagamou First Nation; master’s student, history; GRASAC RA), and Diane Michaud (Settler; librarian; VR and AR enthusiast). Also present were Haley Bryant, GRASAC RA and manager of the Mobile Community Research Kits; Cara Krmpotich, Co-Director of GRASAC; and Chantal Tam, GRASAC RA in charge of developing user guides for the kits.

Taking advantage of the sunshine, participants walked the University of Toronto campus, taking digital photographs, videos and recording sounds. People also experimented with macro photography of cultural belongings.

Since then, Sheila Wheesk was able to visit with a Cree hood at the Royal Ontario Museum, alongside fellow GRASAC RA Autumn Epple. Sheila brought one of the cameras with her, to take photos of the hood to share with her community and to use in her own research.  

Photo of a Woodland-style mural on a building above a road and field of tall grass.
Mural at Spadina Circle, photograph by Sheila Wheesk.
Following an invitation to talk about the Kits with colleagues at the National Museum of the American Indian, two kits will travel with Haley to Washington, DC this December. There, staff will gain a better sense of the kinds of community/museum projects made possible by the Kits. 

Also in December, Haley and Cara are hitting the road to bring some Kits to Nbissing territory. With Katrina Srigley and Glenna Beaucage, GRASAC will provide an introduction to the equipment and leave a set of Kits for people to continue working with there. 

The Kits include rugged laptops, digital cameras, audio recorders, and Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets. Document scanners and 3D cameras are both on order, and should be arriving soon. Other components in production include raspberry pis and mobile hot spots for internet access. 

If anyone would like to try out a set of Kits while they are still in development, please contact Haley Bryant: haley.bryant@mail.utoronto.ca

We are keen to hear the kinds of projects people would like to undertake, and to work with GRASACers to learn what supports, training, or collaborations are desired.
Tree Protection Zone” art installation curated by Mikinaak Migwans and Maria Hupfield, photograph by Stacy Allison-Cassin. 
In 2020 GRASAC began renewing relationships with heritage institutions. Many of these agreements were finalized and shared in a March 2021 newsletter story. Others remain in the works and will continue to be shared in future newsletters. One of the latest additions to the ranks of renewed relationships is that with the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology. GRASAC is delighted to include them in our network and to share their re-introduction here.
A display case with images, text panels, and a range of baskets inside.
Wiidankiindiwag display the UM Museum of Natural History (2021); exhibit originally displayed at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Lifeways and Culture (2019), co-curated by William Johnson, curator and interim director of the Ziibiwing Center, and Carla Sinopoli, emeritus UMMAA curator and director of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology.
University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology Renews Commitment to GRASAC Network
by Dr. Michael Galaty, Andrea Blaser, and Jim Moss
 
The UM Museum of Anthropological Archaeology (UMMAA) is delighted to renew their relationship with GRASAC. Founded in 1922 at the University of Michigan, UMMAA (previously the Museum of Anthropology) is a research collection without a formal exhibit space: our mission focuses on education, research, and collaborative opportunities. Our institution curates over 3 million items collected from around the globe over the past 150 years, representing over a million years of cultural heritage.
 
UMMAA is looking forward to expanding their current contributions to the GKS. Nearly 100 records for baskets in the UMMAA collection were added in 2018, thanks to the expertise provided by members and staff of the Ziibiwing Center during the creation of the collaborative exhibit Wiidanokiindiwag (They Work with Each Other). Efforts are now underway to photograph more of our Great Lakes material, including a recent acquisition of Great Lakes basketry and archival material; our hope is that these will be ready to be shared to the GRASAC database in early 2022.
 
We acknowledge that our university stands, like almost all property in the United States, on lands obtained through the dispossession of indigenous peoples. The University of Michigan is located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Wyandot (Wyandotte), Seneca, Delaware, Shawanese (Shawnee), Miami, Sauk and Fox, and others. As a Museum, we work to hold the University of Michigan and ourselves accountable in sustaining mutually beneficial partnerships with Indigenous peoples, communities, and nations that recognize and fulfill their rights and aspirations.
We are always happy to answer questions and to provide access to the collections. Inquiries can be sent to ummaa-collection-mgr@umich.edu.
An Indigenous woman wearing a bathing suit and boots in the snow next to a river, holding a large white surfboard.
Lori Blondeau. Lonely Surfer Squaw II, 1997. Duratrans transparency in lightbox, Overall: 104.8 x 80.2 x 17 cm. Purchase, with funds by exchange from a gift of Mrs. Jules Loeb, donated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, 2020. © Lori Blondeau 2020/18
aabaakwad 2021
from aabaakwad

Friday, December 3 - Sunday, December 5
Baillie Court, Art Gallery of Ontario, and online


aabaakwad 2021 is the third international gathering of Indigenous artists, curators and thinkers.

aabaakwad (it clears after a storm) is an annual Indigenous-led conversation on Indigenous art by those who create, curate and write about it. A gathering that alternates annually between Toronto and international venues, showcasing dynamic dialogue examining themes, materials and experiences in Indigenous art practice globally. The only Indigenous-led arts gathering of its kind in the world, co-presented by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Canada Council of the Arts, this year’s event welcomes more than 40 presenters from 24 First Nations and six countries, including Rebecca Belmore, Alan Michelson, Taqralik Partridge, Duke Redbird, Timimie Marak, Liisa-Ravna Finbog, internationally renowned writer Gerald Vizenor, and Sobey art award winner Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory for three days of free conversation and performance. We are Indigenous-led and artist-centred.

aabaakwad is also a living archive of Indigenous thought on art.

Visit aabaakwad.com for a detailed schedule of events and participant biographies.
 
Learn More and Register Here
An installation in a gallery, made of an ornate carpet and room paneling, which features four paintings of figures in different colours.
Robert Houle. Paris/Ojibwa, 2010. Multimedia installation: oil on wood, oil on canvas, video (colour, 3 min. 52 sec.), audio (6 min. 20 sec.), and gold lettering, Installed: 358 × 488 × 488 cm. Gift of Robert Houle, with funds by exchange from a gift in memory of J.G. Althouse from Isobel Althouse Wilkinson and John Provost Wilkinson, 2020. © Robert Houle 2020/3
Robert Houle: Red is Beautiful
from the Art Gallery of Ontario

Exhibition on December 3, 2021 - April 17, 2022 at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Robert Houle is one of the most influential First Nations artists to break into the contemporary art world. His work blends abstraction, modernism and conceptualism with First Nations aesthetics and histories. Houle went from residential school to art school to museum boardrooms and on to the art world stage as an artist, curator and writer.

Robert Houle: Red is Beautiful consists of over 90 large installations, paintings and drawings created between 1970 and 2021. Themes in the exhibition include Sacred Geometry, The Spiritual Legacy of the Ancient Ones, Beyond History Painting, The Aesthetics of Disappearance, Residential School Years, and Sovereignty.

This exhibition is a walk through fifty years of what matters to First Nations and Settler relations today with an artist who was always ahead of time.
 
Learn More and Get Tickets Here
Miigwech, nia:wen, thank you, merci: we hope you have enjoyed these stories!
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