First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 92

COLLECTIONS above Unknown Kainai artist, Shirt with Tadpole Design, early 20th century, elk hide, porcupine quills, natural dyes, weasel pelts, glass beads, collection of Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta. Photo: Daderot (CC0 1.0). are handled on a case-by-case basis in consultation with a network of trusted personal contacts, primarily elders who served on the Glenbow’s Blackfoot Advisory Committee or Indigenous individuals on similar boards such as the Royal Alberta Museum’s Repatriation Committee. Though over 251 sacred bundles or objects have been repatriated to Blackfoot caretakers and many more have been released to Cree and Blackfoot on long- term ceremonial loan, many remain at Glenbow for safekeeping. Some are visited, smudged, and fed daily. Blackfoot sacred bundles are kept separate from Cree sacred bundles, inaccessible to all 90 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM except initiated individuals. Schmidt shared that she and the museum director recently had their faces painted in cere- mony to protect them from the bundles, believed to be living ancestors. The bundles remain at Glenbow for a variety of reasons. Often elders determine the younger people requesting the bundles are not yet prepared to properly care for them. Some heirs trust their ancestors’ decision to part with a bundle and believe it is safer inside the museum. Decisions surrounding return or placement of Indigenous items in museums must be considered individually and contextually. There will never be a blanket resolution for these highly complex and subjective situations. Beyond repatriation, several Glenbow initiatives demonstrate the exciting potential for different collabo- rations. Sheldon First Rider is one of six Blackfoot museum educators who have developed custom programs on Blackfoot language, culture, and residential schools for various audiences. Calgary Police Services (CPS) invited Joanne Schmidt to create a display in their headquarters as part of a cultural awareness initiative for their members, and Glenbow also hosts cultural sensitivity workshops for the CPS, among other groups. In 2010 the museum established an artist-in-residence program that hosts one artist per year. This year Albertine Crow Shoe (Piikani) was selected for the position, the first woman and the first Indigenous woman to do so. She studies parfleche bags, fleshers, awls, and other items in collections, which inspire her jewelry designs. One of the largest projects was the creation of a permanent exhibition on and by the local Blackfoot. Nearly half of the third floor (12,000 square feet) is dedi- cated to Niitsitapiisini: Our Way of Life. Completed in 2001, the exhibition is the result of a four-year collaboration among gallery staff led by curators Gerald Conaty, Beth Carter, and 18 Blackfoot scholars including Allan Pard (Aapátohsipikáni, ca. 1951–2016) and Frank Weasel Head (Kainai, 1938–2015). The galleries are constructed to look like the outdoors: winding, hilly paths lead one through a faux landscape with trees and a starry sky.