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

February 2021 Newsletter

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

We hope that you will enjoy GRASAC's monthly newsletter for February! 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:

  • GRASAC Hack-A-Thon First Pilot! by Irmarie Fraticelli-Rodríguez
  • Funding Announcement: Indigenous Community Research Fellowships at the APS Library & Museum, by Brian Carpenter
  • Open Call for Submissions: To Be – Named project, by Gwyneira Isaac
  • New Publication - "The Wampum and the Print: Objects Tied to Nicolas Vincent Tsawenhohi’s London Visit, 1824–1825," by Jonathan Lainey
  • Call for Papers for an edited collection on 400 Years of Interactions at Bawating, by Karl Hele
  • Virtual event: Miijim: Food as Relations, from the Finding Flowers project
  • Exhibition and Virtual Tour: Uprising: The Power of Mother Earth Christi Belcourt -  A Retrospective with Isaac Murdoch, from McMichael Canadian Art Collection
  • Invitation to submit a "From the GKS" feature
  • Invitation to contribute to future GRASAC newsletters

GRASAC Hack-A-Thon First Pilot!
by Irmarie Fraticelli-Rodríguez

From Friday, January 22 to Saturday, January 23, ​a small number of GRASAC members ​and research assistants took part in a trial run of a "data-a-athon" as a pilot idea for a data science hackathon. Participants from different academic disciplines and professions were placed into two teams.  Both groups were tasked to answer questions related to the GKS controlled vocabulary, ontologies, data cleaning, and information architecture. 

Saturday Data-a-thon participants. The photo was taken by Cara Krmpotich.
Over a hundred new relations between objects and language items were proposed for the GKS database. Teams identified over thirty data errors in the GKS controlled vocabulary that may be interfering with the search and retrieval of the database items. Also, teams presented GKS information architecture proposals intersecting data visualization and website wireframing. The teams delved into the possibilities of representing seasonalities and waterways visually through the use of a map ​and other user-focused features. 

"The hack-a-thon was an excellent opportunity to collaborate with other GRASAC members and share ideas. I especially enjoyed brainstorming connections between heritage items and language items, it allowed me to develop a more holistic understanding of the database." -- Olivia White, RA and Hack-a-thon participant
GRASAC's first data-a-thon website. Special thank you to Irmarie, who led the design and development of the site and the event! Visit the following link for more information,
Hack-a-thons are usually associated with computer science/engineering fields. These are events where programmers collaborate to propose solutions to a software-related issue. For the GRASAC community, this format is being explored for its potential to bring multiple knowledges and expertise together in a focused and informal environment. By working together, the participants discovered both isolated and pervasive issues with the GKS Database and proposed new solutions. Miigwech, nia:wen, thank you to our participants!

The pilot data-a-thon was developed and organized by University of Michigan Research Assistants, with support from Professors Ricky Punzalan, Heidi Bohaker and Cara Krmpotich. The team is now preparing to scale up the data-a-thon and host GRASAC-wide events in the Spring. Stay Tuned!
Ron Hamilton pictured here with notebook (Image from the American Philosophical Society).

Funding Announcement: Indigenous Community Research Fellowships at the APS Library & Museum
by Brian Carpenter (

Applications are now open for the American Philosophical Society (APS)’s Indigenous Community Research Fellowships. These fellowships support research by Indigenous community members, elders, teachers, knowledge keepers, officials, leaders, museum and archive professionals, scholars, and others, regardless of academic background, seeking to examine materials at the APS Library & Museum in support of Indigenous community-based priorities. Academic credentials are not required, nor is an academic project or end-result required.
The fellowships may be used by individual researchers or used to enable a group of community researchers to visit the APS Library & Museum in Philadelphia. We encourage any community to apply whose cultural or linguistic heritage is represented in the APS Library & Museum's collections. Applications from outside the U.S. are welcomed.
The APS collections consist of a vast amount of archival materials relating to over 650 Indigenous cultures, predominantly from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Indignous Subject Guide ( provides extensive information for gaining an overview of these materials.
The deadline for applications is March 5, 2021.
Full information on the fellowship and how to apply can be found at:

View the two informational posters here.
Open Call for Submissions: To Be – Named project
by Gwyneira Isaac, Curator of North American Ethnology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
There is an open call for the To Be – Named project which I am leading in partnership with CoLing (EU funded project on endangered languages) and Bard College and the Open Society University Network (OSUN). It is a roots-driven and consortia approach linking people across the world around the topic of the cultural politics of naming. We are interested in having Indigenous scholars and artists and community members participate and submit their materials, media and essays (songs, poetry, art, essays etc.). The project seeks both submissions in research and art categories. 

The deadline for abstract submissions is March 1st. The final selected works would not be due to us until June/July. The outcome of this project will be a peer reviewed volume (both in print and online via open access) with a target deadline of completion of 2022. An exhibit is also in development using the art that is to be submitted as part of the project.

To Be – Named was created in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Recovering Voices program (See, the EU funded CoLing project—Minority Languages, Major Opportunities. Collaborative Research, Community Engagement and Innovative Educational Tools (See and the Experimental Humanities Collaborative Network (EHCN) sponsored by the Open Society University Network (See

If anyone has questions, they can contact me directly at
Charles Joseph Hullmandel, hand-coloured lithograph after Edward Chatfield, Nicholas Vincent Tsawenhohi, 1825. Gift of Mrs Walter Stewart, McCord Museum, M20855.

New Publication - Jonathan Lainey, "The Wampum and the Print: Objects Tied to Nicolas Vincent Tsawenhohi’s London Visit, 1824–1825"
by Jonathan Lainey

Telling the long history and biography of objects’ lives reveals the need to acknowledge the role of material culture in Indigenous-settler relations and in our understanding of the past as well as its representation and appropriation.

In November 1824, four Wendat leaders from Lorette (now Wendake) began a seven-month voyage to London to petition the king for assistance in their land claim dispute. A lithographic print of Grand Chief Tsawenhohi presenting an important 1760s wampum belt was produced on that occasion. Intimately connected and widely known, both the wampum and the print have appeared over the past two centuries in a variety of contexts.

From close physical observations, extensive archival research as well as consideration of oral accounts, Jonathan Lainey (Curator, Indigenous Cultures, McCord Museum) and Anne Whitelaw (Art History, Concordia University) was able to reveal the mechanisms by which the narratives surrounding the symbolic status and cultural significance of these figures as well as their representation were appropriated, stereotyped, and silenced as they were deployed by successive interlocutors, ranging from settler histories of Quebec to Wendat agency and sovereignty.

The research behind this essay was performed during a five-year collaborative project involving different scholars and museums which resulted in Object Lives and Global Histories in Northern North America: Material Culture in Motion, c.1780-1980 (MQUP, 2021), released in January 2021. This essay is one of 12 diverse contributions in the volume which analyze material culture from northern North America and its entanglements within global, imperial, and colonial networks.

Follow this link for more information on Object Lives and Global Histories in Northern North America, or this link to purchase a copy.

Call for Papers: Bawating/Sault Ste. Marie, 400 years: An Edited Collection
by Karl Hele

I am seeking articles for a volume, tentatively titled “Bawating/Sault Ste. Marie, 400 years”. 2023 will be the 400th anniversary of Étienne Brûlé being presented to the Anishinaabeg at Bawating by their relations, the Wendat. Brûlé’s ‘discovery’ led to Saint-Lusson claiming the region for the King of France in 1671, two years after the Jesuits established a mission at the rapids. The priests renamed Bawating after the blessed Virgin, a name that has been retained for the subsequent 400 years. With the establishment of the mission and French imperial claims Bawating was firmly connect to the ever increasingly realm of imperial and colonial conflicts and policies between France, Britain, and their heirs. From 1623 to 2023, for instance, Bawating has witnessed changing relationships between Indigenous peoples and multiple waves of Settlers, the creation of an International border, the establishment of treaties, rapid Industrialization and decline, the threat of conflict, growing and declining urbanization, the implementation of colonial policies directed at Indigenous peoples, as well as the formation federal and provincial policies aimed at Settlers. Simply, the region marked as a key place on the path to the west, first by Indigenous peoples and then Settlers, has a rich past.

The edited collection is not meant to be a celebration of 400 years of Settler presence. Instead, my vision is a collection of articles that explore these four centuries of rich and diverse histories. I am seeking papers, poetry, short stories, and art that examines or speaks to aspects of the region’s multiple stories or single stories. Submissions can examine events, people, places, interactions, migrations, or experiences.

Article proposals should relate to an examination of the historical or contemporary aspects of Bawating. Topics may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Indigenous-Settler interactions
  • Treaties
  • Industrialization
  • De-industrialization
  • The relationship between the U.S. and Canadian Saults
  • The presence of the International border
  • Settlement of the region by various Non-Indigenous ethnic and national groups
  • Religion or Missions
  • Tourism
  • Fishing
  • Forestry
  • Urbanization
  • Music, Theatre, Art
  • Education (i.e. Settler schools, Day and Residential Schools, development of Higher Ed.)
  • The Great Depression
  • The ‘Great’ Recession of the early 1980s
  • Experiences with the First World War and/or the Second World War
  • Veterans
  • Newspapers
  • Economy
  • etc.
If you are interested, please be in touch at

Virtual event: Miijim: Food as Relations
from the Finding Flowers project

Miijim: Food as Relations is a series of conversations presenting Indigenous, Black and People of Colour food scholars, growers, artists and advocates who will gather virtually across Canada. The series will discuss the interconnections between art, earthwork, cultivation and harvesting experiences that decenter colonial frameworks, while thinking through labour and power relations related to food justice in urban and rural communities.

MIIJIM: Food & Gardens as Remediation
Tuesday, February 2 at 2:30 - 4:30 pm EST

This conversation brings together Indigenous artists who are using seeds, planting and cultivation in their practices. T’uy’t’tanat - Cease Wyss (Skwxwú7mesh / Stó:lō / Hawaiian / Swiss) and Anne Riley (Cree / Dene) will discuss A Constellation of Remediation, a project that includes the planting of Indigenous remediation gardens on vacant and untended lots on the unceded homelands of the xʷməθkʷəyə̓m (Musqueam), Sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. Cease and Anne will be in conversation with Joce Two Crows Tremblay (Mohawk / Pottawatomi / Francaise / Ashkenazi), an artist, Earthworker and member of the Indigenous Land Stewardship Circle, who will be sharing their work with the Re~Sistering garden on the Niwa’ah Onega’gaih’ih ~ Kobechenonk ~ the Humber River, a project that seeks to re-Indigenize land by creating Three Sisters and medicine earthworks on ancestral urban sites.

MIIJIM: Gardens as Art as Relations
Tuesday, February 23 at 2:30 - 4:30 pm EST

This roundtable conversation will focus on how plants have been part of contemporary curatorial and artistic practices. The speakers will further consider care as an intrinsic part of working in relation with flora, plants and gardens.

Moderated by Anishinaabe artist and curator Lisa Myers, this conversation will open with a reflection by her on caring for Mike MacDonald’s Butterfly Garden works, and will follow with interventions by Mi’kmaq artist Ursula Johnson on language and medicines, scholar and curator Andrea Fatona on caring for gardens at times of global crisis, curator Crystal Mowry on curating gardens andThe Perennials, and artist Christina Battle who will expand on her ongoing project seeds are meant to disperse.

Register here
Image from McMichael Canadian Art Collection's website
Exhibition and Virtual Tour: Uprising: The Power of Mother Earth
Christi Belcourt -  A Retrospective with Isaac Murdoch

from McMichael Canadian Art Collection

Uprising: The Power of Mother Earth, co-produced by the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and Carleton University Art Gallery, is the first retrospective of Christi Belcourt’s work, and spans more than twenty-five years of her art-making career. The exhibition traces her practice from its beginnings in the early 1990s to the present, and concludes with recent works made collaboratively with Isaac Murdoch, an Anishinaabe knowledge keeper and emerging visual artist. Uprising: The Power of Mother Earth brings together more than thirty major Belcourt paintings on loan from numerous private and public collections including National Gallery of Canada, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, Art Gallery of Ontario, Canadian Museum of History, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. The exhibition also includes a selection of Murdoch’s iconic works, which have been featured prominently on the front lines of the Indigenous resistance movement against resource extraction. Together, these two artists produce powerful images that champion the restoration of balance between all living beings and the natural world, reflecting the deep traditions of Indigenous culture.

Exhibition on from October 24, 2020 – April 25, 2021

More information here
About the Virtual Tour

Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays at 12:30-1:30 pm EST
Saturdays at 12:30-1:30 pm EST and 2:00-3:00 pm EST

Join a McMichael Docent on a journey through 25 years of Christi Belcourt’s artwork in this new, interactive virtual presentation exploring the special exhibition Uprising: The Power of Mother Earth.

This free tour provides visitors with the opportunity to examine the artwork featured in the McMichael’s latest special exhibition while remaining safely social distanced in the comfort of their own homes. Each virtual 60-minute tour will be limited to 30 participants to allow for questions and discussion, so please register to ensure your spot.

Feb. 1-12 SOLD OUT
Feb. 13, 15, 18, 19, 20, 22, 25, 26, 27 currently available as of Feb. 1

Register here

Invitation to submit a "From the GKS" feature

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

GRASAC items have a comment feature, so once you have logged on to the database and viewed the 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.

Bradley and Haley can both be reached at

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.

This newsletter is compiled and edited by Olivia White and Bradley Clements, GRASAC research assistants.
View Previous Newsletters
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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