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From Birchbark Scrolls to Online Activism: Archives at Urban Shaman and Shoal Lake 40 First Nation

Urban Shaman
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Friends of Shoal Lake 40, Water Action, Jan. 2017, Reflects in Water stencil series, ongoing, artist: Leah Decter, funded by Winnipeg Arts Council.

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Shoal Lake, Angelina Redsky, 2017

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Redsky family, archival photograph, Angelina Redsky.

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James Redsky, Birch Bark Migration Scroll (103 ft), permission: Angelina Redsky

This Case Study is exploring relationships between archives, art, and Shoal Lake 40 (SL40) in relation to the city of Winnipeg and Anishinaabe archival protocols. The team is comprised of Urban Shaman Gallery Director Daina Warren, Collaborator Jessica Jacobson-Konefall, and artist Angelina McLeod from Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. 

This Case Study is activating archives through Indigenous methodologies as praxis-based and relational, relating to, and orienting through, the land and its histories, expanding the archive beyond traditional colonial forms of documentation. 

Angelina McLeod approaches the project as an Anishinaabe scholar, cultural worker, and artist, and Jacobson-Konefall as a Winnipeg citizen and settler scholar. SL40 First Nation is isolated on a man-made island created by Winnipeg’s aqueduct, built in 1919, which provides the city with potable water. The First Nation has been under a boil water advisory since 1996, with no road-access to their community.

Update from the Case Study:

So far, our Case Study has undertaken archival research and preparation for our art exhibit for July 2021. We have worked in the City of Winnipeg archives, assessing 1000 photographic images for our art exhibit and future archival research concerning Shoal Lake 40 First Nation as well as its relationship with the city. Angelina Mcleod has visited the Redsky birchbark scrolls at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, analysing the audio files created by James Redsky explaining the scrolls’ narratives, meanings and histories. Having prepared our exhibit plan and artwork concepts (based in film, photography, birchbark, plants and dyes, and performance), we are in the steps of developing all of the artistic components for the show Mide-wigwas: Transmediating in July 2021.

It has been difficult because of the COVID lockdown in SL40 to visit both the community of Shoal Lake 40 and the Glenbow Museum. However, Daina Warren and Angelina McLeod will be going to record audioscapes in community for the exhibit shortly, while harvesting birchbark, cedar, and collecting water from Shoal Lake for the exhibit and performance.

Stay tuned for more information about the exhibit on the Archive/Counter-Archive website.

Abut Urban Shaman

Urban Shaman: Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery is an Indigenous artist-run centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Since 1996, it has been a nationally recognized leader in Aboriginal arts programming and one of the foremost venues and voices for Aboriginal art in Canada. 

Land Acknowledgement

Urban Shaman: Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery is located on Treaty One land, territory of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Dene, Dakota, and Oji-Cree Nations and the homeland of the Métis. As an Indigenous artist run centre, we consider our work to be reflective of continuing Indigenous resurgence and sovereignty. The works we show in community amplify and contend with the conceptual, political, social, and material meanings of Treaty One as the Treaty was negotiated by the Anishinaabe, as well as the ongoing meanings of this land in relation to Indigenous nations broadly speaking. 

Team Members
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Headshot of Jessica Jacobson-Konefall
Collaborator

Jessica Jacobson-Konefall

Case Study Co-Lead
SSHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Toronto
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers

Jessica Jacobson-Konefall is a SSHRC postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Toronto in the Department of History of Art. Her current interests are in contemporary art, care work, creativity, labour, and ecology. She works as assistant to artists Rebecca Belmore and Osvaldo Yero, and as instructor at University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba. She has published in many scholarly journals and books.

As an archivist at Urban Shaman: Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery, working for Director Daina Warren and Dr. Sherry Farell-Racette, her dissertation focused on her work archiving the gallery's programming history from its inception in 1996. As archivist for artist Rebecca Belmore, she digitized Belmore's works from 1980s-present day. Her chapter "Here: Our Alienation and Transformative Agencies" is forthcoming in grunt gallery's anthology Wordless: The Performance Art of Rebecca Belmore (Vancouver, 2019). She is a member of Winnipeg-based solidarity group Friends of Shoal Lake 40.

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Daina Warren headshot
Partner

Daina Warren

Case Study Co-Lead
Director, Urban Shaman Gallery
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers

Daina Warren is from the Akamihk (Cree) Nation in Maskwacis (Bear Hills), AB. She was awarded two Canada Council's Aboriginal Curatorial Residencies the first to work with grunt gallery, Vancouver BC (2000-2001) and a second residency at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario (2010-2011). She has a BFA from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2003) and an MA from UBC (2012). Warren was awarded the 2015 Emily Award from Emily Carr University and was selected as one of six Indigenous women curators as part of the Canada Council for the Arts Delegation to participate in the International First Nations Curators Exchange that took place in Australia (2015), New Zealand (2016), and Canada (2017). Her most recent accomplishment was winning the Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Curatorial Excellency in 2018. She is currently the Director of Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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Headshot of Angelina McLeod
Artist in Residence

Angelina McLeod

Case Study Co-Lead, Artist in Residence
University of Manitoba
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers

Angelina McLeod (Anishinaabekwe) is an emerging filmmaker, writer, and documentary subject from Shoal Lake First Nation. Angelina is a land and water defender that is passionate about sharing Anishinaabeg history, culture, languages and stories. Her research is focused on Midewiwin birch bark scrolls that were once held by her grand uncle James Redsky, WWI veteran and prominent member of the Midewiwin, interpreted the scrolls before they were sold to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary for preservation. Angelina is currently working on a series of short films with the National Film Board about her community Shoal Lake 40, First Nation, the source of Winnipeg’s drinking water.

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