A Case of Access: Inuvialuit Engagement with the Smithsonian’s MacFarlane Collection
Principal Investigator: Lyons, Natasha L. (4)
Licence Number: 14675
Organization: Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University
Licenced Year(s): 2010 2009
Issued: Mar 09, 2010

Objective(s): This study will facilitate the interaction of Inuvialuit community members with a museum collection purchased from their forebears on the Anderson River in the mid 19th century, and will document present-day Inuvialuit knowledge about this collection.

Project Description: This study will facilitate the interaction of Inuvialuit community members with a museum collection purchased from their forebears on the Anderson River in the mid 19th century, and will document present-day Inuvialuit knowledge about this collection. The project will also generate opportunities to build capacity amongst youth in videography and ethnographic documentation techniques. Finally, project collaborators and participants will explore the possibilities for bringing these items to the Western Arctic for closer study and commentary by Inuvialuit at a future date.

A small contingent of Inuvialuit community members (Elders, cultural practitioners, and youth) will travel to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, to participate in an extended workshop, where they will view and interact with objects from one of the earliest museum collections collected in their territory. The Elders will discuss and comment on the objects, while the younger members of the delegation will document this knowledge.

This is a community-driven project that seeks to address cultural heritage goals of the Inuvialuit community. The project is intended to repatriate information about a historical museum collection that was collected from Inuvialuit on the Anderson River in the mid-19th century through a workshop at the Smithsonian Institution. Inuvialuit elders, cultural practitioners, and youth will visit with this collection and document the elders' knowledge about it. The youth will learn techniques for interviewing and recording this information using audio and video equipment. They will work with team members to prepare and present the results of the workshop for school and elders' groups in the delta. An educational website will be prepared to present the objects in the collection and the elders' traditional knowledge related to them.

A summary and outcomes of the project will be presented by community collaborators and youth research assistants to Elders and school groups in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk in the fall of 2010. As mentioned, a website will be produced to disseminate information about the collection, including the Elders' knowledge of its items.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from March to December 31, 2010, in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.