This project brings together members of the communities of Mashteuiatsh and Kitigan Zibi with community and university researchers as well as a number of other partners, including museums. Together we will explore several methods of cultural reappropriation for the Ilnu community of Mashteuiatsh and the Anishinabeg community of Kitigan Zibi: museum visits in Canada and the United States, access to collections, object loans and returns, online photos of object, etc. We will also look at new ways of helping members of the communities feel closer to the elements that constitute their heritage and better control their destiny.
Past experience has shown how much emotion and well-being emerge in the presence of objects. Seeing an object after a period of non-contact stimulates memory and often provokes a strong feeling of pride. Becoming interested in objects is also a way to document, transmit, and preserve the knowledge of elders, to stimulate interest among young people, and to renew ties between generations. Implementing concrete action to bring about the transmission of knowledge from elders to young people is urgent. Those who have been in contact with traditional ways of living are now aging, and their expertise in the knowledge and interpretation of objects from the past is irreplaceable.
We wish to better understand and disseminate various concepts of the notion of repatriation for first nations and the world vision they reflect. Awareness of the importance of controlling one’s heritage happens through knowledge and experience.
We will work with communities on the Canadian west coast who have already experienced certain kinds of repatriation. In so doing, we hope to better understand their activities, to take inspiration from them, and most particularly, to adapt them to the specific needs of the peoples of Mashteuiatsh and Kitigan Zibi.
Throughout the project, a series of public events in the communities will showcase the progress of the research: round-table sessions, exhibitions, lectures, community radio broadcasts, and information published in brochures and newspapers. Data collected in the process of this research will be given back to the communities in a structured fashion so that their museums, schools, and other institutions will be able to access it for use.
In addition to communities at Kitigan Zibi, Mashteuiatsh, and members of the Haida community of the west coast of Canada, a number of museums and universities are participating in the project : the Musée amérindien de Mashteuiatsh, the cultural education centre at Kitigan Zibi, the Haida Gwaii Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the Field Museum in Chicago, the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, the Université de Montréal, the University of British Columbia, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Université Laval, and the University of Washington.