Learning from the Ancestors II: Collaboration and Community Engagement

Friday, May 4, 2018 - 8:30am to 12:10pm
Terrace West
In recent decades, repatriation debates have forced heritage practitioners around the world to confront the problematic pasts of their disciplines. Protective heritage legislation and policy has since offered a means to return Indigenous heritage and ancestors. But without a clear path forward, these discussions have sometimes exacerbated existing tensions between Indigenous communities and researchers. Explosive cases like Kennewick Man, or the Ancient One, demonstrate this. However, collaborative projects offer an opportunity to address both problematic disciplinary pasts and build productive, mutually beneficial relationships. Well known cases like Kwäd̖āy Dän Ts’ínch̖i in Canada or the On Your Knees Cave project in the US offer examples of the potential benefits for both researchers and community partners involved. Building from a recent session held at the University of Calgary’s Chacmool conference in 2017, this session will continue to explore a diverse group of projects in North America that actively collaborate and engage with Indigenous communities in the care, scientific study, and repatriation of ancestors and their belongings.
  • Chelsea Meloche, Simon Fraser University
  • Katherine Nichols, Simon Fraser University
  • Laure Spake, Simon Fraser University
08:30 AM: What Happens Next? Repatriation as an Essential Part of Reconciliation
  • Chelsea Meloche - Simon Fraser University
The collection and control of Indigenous ancestors and their belongings for research or museum display has directly contributed to the loss of cultural patrimony and to the intergenerational trauma of colonialism. Successful repatriations can be a form of restorative justice and an essential part of reconciliation by reinstating ownership and control to Indigenous descendant communities. However, involvement in repatriation work can also affect communities in a variety of ways and may carry unanticipated burdens for those involved. Canada’s recent commitments to reconciliation underscore the need for further exploration of repatriation and the ways it can affect descendant communities. In this paper, I explore how these effects have been explored and identified in repatriation literature and consider what may be missing.
08:50 AM: Returning Respect and Dignity to the Forgotten through Culture
  • Koda  Tacan - Sioux Valley Dakota Nation
  • Toni Pashe - Sioux Valley Dakota Nation
  • Katherine Nichols - Simon Fraser University
In 2013, Sioux Valley Dakota Nation became the first Self Governing First Nation in the prairie provinces. This shift into Self Government has brought about many positive and challenging changes for the community. These changes include our impending involvement in events that are culturally important while also holding an archeological component. During the building of new homes in the community, a final resting place was discovered and a working relationship with the Manitoba Heritage Resource Branch was formed. This relationship will come into play again now that Sioux Valley Dakota Nation has stepped forward to be the voice for the forgotten children in the original cemetery of the Brandon Industrial Residential School. Sioux Valley has also stepped forward, declaring it is time that our ancestral belongings, art and ceremonial items, return home from foreign museums and archives. Though the archeology plays an essential role in the repatriations, it is our cultural ceremonies that will bring honour and respect to their homecomings. It is time for all those forgotten and now found to be returned home.
09:10 AM: The Journey Home
  • Sue Rowley - University of British Columbia, Museum of Anthropology
  • David M. Schaepe - Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre
The discourse of prescription, legislation and best practices about repatriation may imply there is only one path and that at the end of the pathway is repatriation, journey’s end. Setting one’s sights on repatriation it is possible to forget that the journey informs the process and is as important as the end.  The journey is where process is negotiated, preconceptions are challenged, and relationships are forged. Those actively engaged in repatriation are well aware that every step represents variation and potential challenges to long-held perceptions, assumptions and understandings.  Repatriation, as a process, is a potential point of entry and means by which Indigenous communities and cultural heritage institutions have the opportunity to work together, establish common ground, create relationships and moving forward toward future joint destinations.  In this talk we will discuss The Journey Home Project carried out between the Stó:lō House of Respect Caretaking Committee and the Laboratory of Archaeology at UBC.
09:30 AM: Honouring the Ancestors
  • Kevin Brownlee - Manitoba Museum
The Manitoba Museum has been working collaboratively for over 25 years on the analysis of ancestral remains with Indigenous communities from across Manitoba. The focus has been on ancestral remains impacted by hydro electric development in the province and the museum has taken the lead on analysis of artifacts and return of information to communities. I have been fortunate to have worked on many project beginning in 1993 in a variety of capacities, as an undergraduate, museum intern, graduate student, civil servant and curator. Not surprising over the past 25 years, my understanding, attitude and how I approach ancestral remains has changed dramatically. Dr. E. Leigh Syms and I have created numerous display cases, books and posters for communities. I will share how my experiences guide two of my current projects. One project examining ancestral remains from the Winnipeg River (Southeast Manitoba) the other focused on Southern Indian Lake (northern Manitoba). I feel these ancestors guide me as I tell their story, ensuring they are never forgotten.
09:50 AM: Collaborative Curation of Human Remains - a Field Museum and IMLS National Leadership Project
  • Emily Hayflick - Field Museum
  • Helen Robbins - Field Museum
  • Patience Baach - Field Museum
“Collaborative Curation: Building a 21st Century Model for the Care of North American Human Remains" is a three year Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded initiative to pilot forward thinking, collaborative, and ethical curation, documentation, and physical care of North American human remains housed in museum collections. The project aims to build networks among scientific, museum, academic, First Nations, and Native American representatives. As part of this goal, the Field Museum hosted a symposium to discuss collaborative curation with a number of partners from across North America. This paper will highlight themes, goals, lessons learned, and participant evaluations from the symposium, as well as the next steps developed in collaboration with the symposium attendees. Finally, we will feature discussions related to digital components of museum curation and record keeping.
10:30 AM: Respectful Return, Community by Community: Developing Repatriation Policy at the Royal BC Museum
  • Genevieve Hill - Royal BC Museum
  • Lucy Bell - Royal BC Museum
The Royal BC Museum has the monumental task of returning numerous ancestral remains to their descendent communities. The simple task of moving remains from one place to another is complicated by a variety of circumstances, from the methods of acquisition, the existing regulations and policies, and the widely varying levels of existing documentation, to the sheer number of communities to which they must be returned and with whom we must consult. How, then, does the RBCM develop policy and protocol to move forward and meaningfully collaborate with indigenous communities when "one size (does not) fit all"? This paper will explore the ways in which the RBCM is putting its own house in order and how it is engaging indigenous communities from across British Columbia in order to ensure ancestral remains and belongings are returned in a manner that is appropriate for the receiving communities.
10:50 AM: First Nations Cultural Property, Community, and Museum Collections: Solving Complex Issues with Good Will
  • Helen Robbins - The Field Museum
  • Isabelle  Genest - Société d’histoire et d’archéologie de Mashteuiatsh
  • Lyne  Da Sylva - Université de Montréal
  • Louise  Siméon - Musée amérindien de Mashteuiatsh
Institutional structures and the prevailing laws within Canada and the US exist to protect rights of ownership, access, and control, but for First Nations these systems are experienced as disrespectful to the people and their cultural property. So what can be done to share and promote openness while recognizing indigenous interests and authority? Here we will show how the First Nation of Mashteuiatsh, the Field Museum, and the University of Montréal formed a partnership to address complex issues related to photographic copyright law. In this case we worked together to resolve competing interests and obligations related to the use and reproduction of images of an important collection from the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. These cultural items collected by Frank G. Speck in the 1920s and held by the Field Museum in Chicago are of great cultural and historic importance to the community of Mashteuiatsh. Although museums must conform to norms and legal requirements, much can be done to work in a positive way to overcome barriers and to respect the rights of the originating communities.
11:10 AM: Indigenous Cultural Resource Ceremonies
  • Jim Jones - Minnesota Indian Affairs Council
Indigenous Cultural Resource Ceremonies looks at the relationship that Indigenous people have with archaeological sites and with sacred places. Spiritual connections that Indigenous people have with the land, waters and even with the stars and with the cycles of the moon. How is this relationship defined within modern archaeology and cultural resource management today? The relationship and the connections to places that we originate from. The villages, communities, towns, and the cities. Places are a way in which we identify ourselves, in Ojibwe culture that is the traditional way to introduce one’s self. Your dodem and where you’re from. Just like these artifacts that lay beneath the ground. What is it that lays there? What is the type of artifact or place? What is the age of the artifact or site? Where you’re from, your community? This is one of the many ways that indigenous cultural resource ceremony is defined within everyday lives of Indigenous people. People have been interpreting our past and our cultures without having a clear understanding of whom we really are as a people and have little or no understanding of our cultures and our spiritual beliefs.
11:30 AM: Collaboration and Geophysical Surveys: Respecting the Resting Place of Indigenous Ancestors
  • K. David McLeod - Senior Archaeologist, Stantec Consulting Ltd., Winnipeg, MB
Stantec Consulting Ltd. (Stantec) has completed a number of collaborative studies with Indigenous partners at existing cemeteries and historical burial grounds to provide a detailed map of marked and unmarked grave locations. These studies have been completed with a variety of objectives including cemetery closure, assisting with confirming community traditional knowledge, or protection from potential development of the site. Studies have been conducted in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The paper will discuss work completed for Fisher River Cree Nation (Manitoba), One Arrow First Nation (Saskatchewan), and Pheasant Nakota First Nation (Saskatchewan). Fisher River Cree Nation was closing the community cemetery and developing a new graveyard. The community wanted a plan of the old cemetery showing marked and unmarked burials as a part of closure. Stantec completed two geophysical studies with One Arrow First Nation, one involving the location and exhumation of Chief One Arrow in the St. Boniface Cathedral Cemetery in Winnipeg, MB, the other at the possible burial site of Chief Chacastapasin and his family near St. Laurent -Grandin SK. The study with Pheasant Rump Nakota Nation consisted of geophysical surveys in two areas where oral tradition said there were unmarked burials.
11:50 AM: Confronting the Truth and Working toward Reconciliation: Collaborative Archaeology and Bioarchaeology in the Post-TRC Era
  • Kisha Supernant - University of Alberta
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released 94 Calls to Action, many of which pertain to archaeology, museum studies, and bioarchaeology. These Calls to Action come at a time when Indigenous communities in Canada are more involved in archaeology than ever before and when Indigenous communities are increasingly the drivers of the study of ancestral remains. In this paper, I explore how archaeologists and bioarchaeologists can respond to the TRC Calls to Action, focusing both on the specifics of certain calls and broader implications for transforming our field and our practice. If we want to move toward a better future for all people on these lands currently called Canada, we need to first face the truth of our history and the ways the structure of our discipline today upholds settler colonialism. Moving toward community-oriented and community-driven research is an important step, but we also need to explore how museums, institutions, governments, and educational settings structure how people interact with and understand Indigenous history. Here, I provide some case studies that expose the underlying tensions within our discipline that we need to address before we can imagine a reconciled past for the future.