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34th American Indian Workshop - Abstracts - Wednesday May 15th

Session 3

Kristina Henriksson
Thomas King Creating New Indians and an Indian World to Live in

Thomas King has developed an approach to depicting the lives of First Nations people, where the main strategies of storytelling are based on many characteristics borrowed from Native creation stories. Furthermore, he creates new types of Indians and an Indian world where they can live. The representations mediate a generic Indian culture, which informs to the reader some ways of seeing the cultural perspectives of a contemporary Native American/First Nations life.

Kristina Henriksson is working on her doctoral dissertation at the University of Helsinki. The study focuses on the function of Thomas King's storytelling in his novels. She is looking at how the stories mediate a generic Indian culture.


Isis Herrero
(Re)Defining “Native American Literature”: Who Writes About What According to Which Framework?

Once the essential, canonical works of the so-called Native American Renaissance have established the basis for a continuous expansion of both production and research of Indian writing, authors, literary agents and scholars alike feel an increasingly pressing need to (re)define the formal and informal borders of “Native American literature”. Three main questions are fundamental for delineating who/what is inside and outside of the category: Who can (or can’t) and should (or shouldn’t) be accepted as an Indian author? What can (or can’t) and should (or shouldn’t) Native American works be about? According to which framework can (or can’t) and should (or shouldn’t) these writers and books be studied? Using these questions as backbone for this paper, I will comment general theoretical perspectives (e.g. postcolonialism, mixed race literature, or imagology) as well as particular cases (e.g. Long Lance, Martin Cruz Smith, or Louise Erdrich) in order to give a comprehensive answer to racial/ethnic, thematic and social considerations surrounding the publication and study of “Native American literature”.

Isis Herrero is finishing her Ph.D. (forthcoming next spring) on the translation into Spanish of Native American literature, with a special focus on identity. She has actively participated in a number of international conferences (e.g. AISNA 2009; IALS 2010; KäTu 2011 & 2012; CECILLE 2011; Maple Leaf & Eagle 2012) as well as in the 2011 CETRA Research Summer School of Translation Studies.


Marwood Larson-Harris
Native American Translation and the Problem of Authenticity

The question of authenticity is often implicitly present in the study of Native American cultures, though it is rarely openly addressed. Well-known challenges to Black Elk Speaks and the speech of Chief Seattle have been based on suspicion as to the degree to which the texts actually communicate the words of their original authors. Authenticity in this case is seen as opposed to colonial manipulation, but there are no simple criteria with which to judge this. Lakota intellectual Vine Deloria Jr., for example, has himself endorsed Black Elk’s text, and other writers have argued that the attacks on Black Elk Speaks are themselves merely expressions of colonial self-doubt. This same uncertainty surrounds the presentation of Native American art, and in particular, translations of Native “poetry,” “myth,” and “legend.” Since the earliest publications of Native written and oral literatures, Anglo-European translators have been active participants in this enterprise both in classifying the works within the American literary canon and in rewriting the texts to more closely match popular preconceptions of literature.

This paper will address the questions: what is our aim in translating Native literatures, and how can we best present these works so that they do not become artifacts of colonial hegemony? I will compare several translations of Zuni stories as an example of how different translation styles have tried to grapple with this problem. I will argue that the ethnopoetic presentations of Zuni tales pioneered by Dennis Tedlock in the 1980s offer a radical and still underutilized way to recenter Native literature closer to the source, and that this provides one possible interpretation of “authenticity.” I will also explore other translation theorists such as Brian Swann, Del Hymes, Robert Bringhurst, Karl Kroeber, and Anthony Mattina for additional perspectives.

Marwood Larson-Harris became interested in Native American cultures as a child growing up in Southeast Alaska near the Tlingit. He received his B.A. in History from Reed College and then went on to study Religion and Literature at Boston University. Since 2002 he has taught courses in Native American Religions and Native American Literatures at Roanoke College in Virginia. (He also teaches Asian Religions.) His research interests include Native American translation theory and Native American radio.


Session 4

Maura M. A. Valleri
Native North American Art and Native Old European Art: Archetypes in Comparison

Astonishing similarity can be noticed in many of the signs and symbols used by Native Americans, particularly by the groups of peoples settled on the Four Corner Area, to the ones found on vessels excavated by archaeologists such as Marija Gimbutas in East and South Europe and belonging to the period dated from 7.500 B.C. to 3.000 B.C., well into the period of initial Kurganization/ IndoEuropeanization of this lands. Both groups of symbols – Native American ones and Old European ones – reflect a general similarity in cosmogony, in mythology and in the simple daily way to face life and death. Symbols of regeneration and of cyclic development of seasons and nature were created on   artefacts of ordinary use.

Through imagines of works of art belonging to Native American Cultures, from Anasazi and even older cultures of America, and to the ones excavated in Europe, it is possible to underline the “quest” most commonly belonging to human beings all around the world and of all periods of our history on earth. Mythological studies by Jung, Mircea Eliade, Sir Frazer, Joseph Campbell and many others can be useful and enlighting to understand the meaning of this signs and symbols in this provocative comparison through art created by people distant in space and time and still close to us – looking at this painted or carved objects with astonishment and pleasure to the eyes.

Maura Margherita Amalia Valleri has complete Americanistic Studies, especially on Native American Cultures and Arts at Turin University, Italy. In 1997, she attended a graduate course in comparative history (HST 850) held by the Departments of History, Art History and Political Science at Michigan State University, USA. She has contributed to the Tepee magazine (appear in Turin)by writing articles on mythology and arts, and being member of the editing staff.


Sandra Busatta
The Tree of Life Pattern: From Central Asia to Navajoland and Back (with a Zapotec Detour)

The Tree of Life pattern is thought to be originated in Central Asia possibly from shamanic cultures, and can be seen as a favorite pattern in many carpets and rugs produced in a huge area, from Afghanistan to Eastern Europe. From the Middle East, together with other Christian and Moorish patterns, it was imported to Central America where it mixed with the local versions of Tree of Life. Traders who brought Oriental carpet patterns to be reproduced by Navajo weavers made it known to them, but it was only after the 1970’s that the pattern has had a real success together with other pictorial rugs.

Sandra Busatta is an independent researcher who lives in Padua, Italy. She is a social anthropologist, the president of the Veneto section of the Anthropological Association Antrocom Onlus, which publishes the international journal Antrocom (online and volumes by Gorgias Press, Inc.), and a member of the Italian association of anthropologists AISEA. She was an editor of the online magazine HAKO, and she is presently an editor of the websites AntrocomVeneto and ArcheoNordest in the Hakomagazine network.


Franci Taylor
In What State Can I Find the Pan-Indian Reservation? How Mainstream Media Continues to Impact Tribal Identity and Representation

This presentation will focus on the history and images of the Pan-Indian movement and how it has created a mainstream perception of a homogenized American Indian culture.  The Pan-Indian movement originated over 100 years ago as leaders from diverse tribal groups sought political power through cross-tribal alliances. The first well known cross-tribal/pan-Indian association was the Society of American Indians (SAI), however, it was the media attention caused by the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the 1960s and 1970s that promoted the iconic image that is now recognized to non-Indian peoples as the “American Indian”. This image is so accepted today that many non-Indians assume that “Pan-Indian” is actually a single tribal identity and tribal nation.

The creation of the contemporary Pan-Indian clothing style is usually attributed to two influences.  First the wide-spread influence of the John Ford Western movie “Indian warrior costume” kit; and the cultural impact of the Relocation Era of the 1950s.  Young American Indians whose parents had been relocated to large urban centers became distanced from their communities of origin and therefore began to feel a powerful loss of identity. The Pan-Indian iconic image offered them an avenue to connect to other American Indians outside of their specific tribal group.  The ribbon shirt and ribbon dress eventually became the uniform of choice for public actions from the United Nations to the Long Walk.  The contemporary pow wow culture has also promoted this style with the Fancy Shawl, Jingle Dress, Men’s Traditional, and Fancy no longer showing specific tribal affiliation. These styles are now seen from Eastern Woodlands pow wows to the Southwest and California.

In this presentation I will follow the development of the iconic image and discuss how it has been adapted for both good and not so good in today’s societies.

Franci Taylor (Choctaw) is the Native American Retention Counselor at Washington State University where she has also taught research and writing and contemporary Indigenous Issues for the Department of Critical Cultural Race and Gender Studies. She has taught North American Indian Studies at the University of Leiden’s Faculty of Archaeology and Montana State University. She is a published author, artist, traditional dancer, bead and quill worker and proud mother and grandmother.


Session 5

Brian Hosmer
Working for Art on Wind River

Since at least the 1930s, the production and marketing of arts and crafts has occupied an important corner of the economy of the Wind River Indian Reservation. Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho craftsmen, and women, are well known as skilled crafts people and artists, whose works blend traditional designs with contemporary forms.  Less well understood are the intersections of commerce and labor, where Indian arts and crafts are at once considered examples of cultural revival and commercial opportunities. Drawing upon a developing ethnohistorical literature that explores these intersections, as well as oral interviews with crafts people and marketers, this paper will examine how Indians on Wind River have “worked for art,” and how commerce and labor has influenced the development of artistic traditions.

Brian Hosmer holds the H.G. Barnard Chair in Western American History at the University of Tulsa. He is author or editor of four books, most recently Tribal Worlds: Critical Studies in American Indian Nation Building (SUNY, 2013, edited with Larry Nesper), and a several articles. Since taking his Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas, Austin, Hosmer has held academic positions at the University of Wyoming, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Newberry Library. His research focuses on Native engagements with capitalism and wage labor during the twentieth century.


Daniel H. Usner
Indian Basketry and Tabasco Sauce: How the Chitimachas Pursued Federal Recognition through Arts and Crafts

The Chitimacha Indians’ possession of their remaining land had become extremely precarious by the early 20th century because they lacked legal protection from the United States government and suffered a surge of racial hostility from white neighbors. Under these circumstances, a relationship forged by Chitimacha women with daughters of Tabasco Sauce founder Edmund McIlhenny became instrumental in their community’s pursuit of federal recognition. The production and sale of exquisite baskets gave Chitimachas access to desperately needed political resources. Through a network of communication with distant patrons of Indian arts and crafts, largely mediated by Mary Bradford and her sister Sara McIlhenny, the Chitimacha people were able to reach allies and officials at a crucial moment. Selling distinctive cultural objects to consumers obsessed with authentic Indian craftsmanship facing extinction, they realized, might boost appreciation for their status as an Indian nation. This paper will explore how Indian agency, by putting material culture to political work, influenced the decision to extend federal trust status to the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana.

Daniel H. Usner, professor of history at Vanderbilt University, is the author of Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy (1992), American Indians in the Lower Mississippi Valley (1998) and Indian Work: Language and Livelihood in Native American History (2009). His current book-length project is a study of the Chitimacha Indians of south Louisiana and their production of basketry during the heyday of the Indian arts and crafts movement.


Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote
Circulating Silver: Metalwork and Exchange on the Southern Plains

This presentation examines why silverwork, an important Southern Plains art form, became a vehicle for Native American Church iconography. I argue that silver work was deeply associated with trade and exchange in the Southern Plains in the nineteenth century, and its use made it an ideal medium to circulate images associated with this intertribal movement. Scholars have often described it as a prestige item. However, the association with diplomacy and regional networks has not been widely discussed.

In the nineteenth century, metalwork played a role in southern plains social and economic life not just as items of adornment, but also as items transferred among Native people in the region and beyond. I examine its use in diplomacy between Kiowa and Comanche men and the government of New Mexico. Then, I argue as Native people made and wore coin jewelry, they gave it multiple meanings as they exchanged it in the Southern Plains. I show coin jewelry and other items were transportable wealth among Kiowa people, while also being a desirable trade good that Kiowas acquired from their Arapaho and Wichita neighbors in exchange for horses. I posit silver work’s rarity in the reservation era enhanced its value as an exchange item, one that continued to connect the northern and southern plains. Finally, I discuss Jesse Rowledge, an Arapaho born in the 1880’s. His stories about metalwork demonstrate that coin jewelry and other items made by Native people continued to pass though Indian hands as objects that signified wealth, beauty, and the creation of intertribal ties both for social and ceremonial purposes in the twentieth century.

Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote (Kiowa) is an assistant professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Currently, she holds the Newberry Consortium in American Indian Studies Faculty Fellowship at the Newberry Library, where she is revising her manuscript for publication. The manuscript argues that expressive culture is a vital location through which the Kiowa have created maintained, and reformulated the boundaries and bonds of their nation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


Session 6

Chris LaLonde
In the Cut, What Lies Beneath: Johnny Tootall and Indigenous Cinema

Directed and co-written by Cree visual artist Shirley Cheechoo, Johnny Tootall (2005) is saturated in indigenous ways of knowing and being in the world, yokes traditional Native arts and the land, and, both visually and aurally, offers its audience an example of indigenous cinema.  Set on Vancouver Island and the Ahousaht First Nation, the film from its opening move asks the viewer to consider the relationship between trauma and ceremony, loss and recovery, people and place.  With the image in the opening montage of a traditional mask submerged in the sea, Johnny Tootall indicates that what is beneath the surface will be the path to healing for returning Bosnian war veteran Johnny Tootall, a path that will bring together past, present, and future for Johnny and his people.  Attention to shots, scenes, and cuts early and late in the film will help us see how Cheechoo’s film should be seen as concerned with and committed to representations that go beyond the Othering images produced and perpetuated by mainstream media.

Chris LaLonde is Professor of English and Director of American Studies at the State University of New York, College at Oswego.  He is the author of William Faulkner and the Rites of Passage, Grave Concerns, Trickster Turns:  The Novels of Louis Owens, and more than a dozen essays on Native American Literatures.  He has held a Fulbright joint appointment to the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University.


Attila Takács
There is no Tomorrow: Inuit Identity in Before Tomorrow

The movie entitled Before Tomorrow (dir.: Marie-Helene Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu, 2009) looks back on Inuit history with both despair and hope. The film dramatizes events from the past of Native Canadians associated with the traumatic disappearance of their community and culture, but also its survival in the form of myth told and retold from time to time, stories which connect generations, strengthen group cohesion and serve as orientation points for modern-day Inuit identity to be formed. I will analyze this ambiguous nature of remembering and cultural memory based on the film but also adopting theories of identity-formation and interethnic communication. I believe Inuit cinematic ‘memory-work’ offers a positive example to other native communities whose survival as an ethnic group depends on maintaining their identity and communicating it towards majority society.

Attila Takács is a Ph.D. student in the North American Studies Program of the University of Debrecen, Hungary. He is the author of Audiatur et Altera Pars (Early Ojibway Residential School). He is member of the Central European Association of Canadian Studies. He has held presentations at various conferences in Europe and in Canada. His research interests are Aboriginal filmmaking, Native Studies, ethnicity, identity, residential schools, and the Relocation-Act.


Session 7

Deborah Jackson-Taffa
Southwestern Indian Men of the 1940’s and 1950’s

Imagine a group of Navajo and Apache welders, spiraling up an outdoor stairwell to the top of a coal-fired power plant in Arizona. The complexities of the modern Native American identity is often cast aside in literary representations of the culture yet financial struggles, poor access to education, environmental hazards, and the fusion of culture and religion are at the seat of our story. After the death of an episteme, our old way of life, we have been left with choices, some contradictory and sacrificial in nature. This paper will explore the complicated image of the new Native American hero: war veteran, manual laborer, parent and grandparent.

Deborah Jackson Taffa is a creative writer, scholar, and activist at the University of Iowa's M.F.A. Program in Creative Nonfiction Writing (2013). She was born for the Keepers of the Water Clan with the Yuma (Kwatsaan) Indian Nation of Arizona and the Badger Clan with the Laguna Pueblo Nation in New Mexico. She has published with Prairie Schooner, Brevity, The Best of Travel Writing, and currently teaches creative writing in Iowa City, IA.


Marianne Kongerslev
“The queerest I ever saw”: Gender Discourses in Mourning Dove’s Cogewea

Written and published on the cusp of a new era in both society and literature, Mourning Dove’s novel Cogewea: The Half-Blood (1927) exemplifies the liminal and transitional. Inspired by Alicia Kent’s (1999) discussion of Cogewea as a Modern novel and the discussions of authorial voice in the novel by Alanna Kathleen Brown (1988) as well as Susan Bernardin (1995), this paper analyzes how Cogewea represents gender. As a Modern heroine, Cogewea struggles to find her place in a changing world, and although the novel has a romantic plot, the choice of a suitable mate is not Cogewea’s main concern; rather it seems that she searches for an identity as a new kind of woman, for which she has no role models.

The novel seems somewhat split in its depiction of gender and women’s roles. On the one hand, Cogewea, caught between two men who represent two different life-paths, needs to choose a man, and on the other, the novel depicts her as “own-headed” and “the queerest”. Her behavior baffles her friends and family and she does not fit into recognizable categories. This multifaceted nature of the heroine might either be explained by what Kent calls the novel’s Native American Modern(ist) characteristics: hybridity in place of experimentation, polyphony in place of fragmentation and so on; or by the fact that, in many ways, the novel was a collaborative work between Mourning Dove and her close friend and editor Lucullus V. McWhorter – the novel depicts the mixed-blood heroine (and to some extent other female characters) in complex ways, because it comprises the views and voices of two authors with their own intentions and hopes for the work and with different discourses to live up to.

Marianne Kongerslev is a Ph.D. student at the University of Southern Denmark where she also gained her Master’s with a thesis on Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor. She previously taught American history and cultural studies at several institutions in Denmark. Her research interests lie especially within Native American literature, literary theory and queer studies.


Session 8

Kate C. Duncan
Diamonds and String Skirts: The Slavey Athapaskan Caped Dress and Its Paleolithic Roots

During the second half of the 19th century woven porcupine quill belts with long fringes and elaborate appliqué dresses with capes and often hoods were specially created for some young Slavey Athapaskan women of the central Canadian Subarctic. These outfits are particularly interesting because they embody imagery and meanings that first appear on tiny figurines dating as early as the Upper Paleolithic Period, 40,000-10,000 BCE, in what is now eastern/ southeastern Europe.

Especially during the 19th century, immigrants to Canada often chose to maintain important essential ceremonies and associated garments from their European homelands, adapting them as needed in terms of materials and aspects of design.  In this paper I will examine the visual characteristics, symbolism, and role of ancient imagery developed deep in Eastern European prehistory, and explore how the late 19th century Slavey appliqué outfit and woven quill belt continue both the symbolism and communicative purpose of their distant Paleolithic counterparts.

Kate Duncan is Professor Emerita of Art History at Arizona State University, Tempe where she taught Native American art history for over two decades. Her research has focused primarily on Subarctic Athapaskan art, with a side interest in curio operations.  Her books include Northern Athapaskan Art, a Beadwork TraditionA Special Gift, the Kutchin Beadwork Tradition, and Ye Olde Curiosity Shop and Native American Art.  She has also published numerous essays.


Caitlin Keliiaa
Dat-so-la-lee: The Interweaving of Cultural Commodification and Native Artistry

At the end of the nineteenth century, the niche market for Indian arts and crafts was plentiful. A famous outpost for these goods was Abram Cohn’s Emporium in Carson City, Nevada. In 1871, Cohn met Dat-so-la-lee or Louisa Keyser, an elderly Washoe woman who had an extraordinary skill for weaving. She worked as an in-home domestic for Cohn’s parents. After exhibiting a few samples of Dat-so-la-lee’s work, Cohn was quick to become her agent. Dat-so-la-lee’s skill was truly exceptional. She had the uncanny ability to weave daily-use baskets, large showpieces, miniscule miniatures and phenomenally complex designs. She was a remarkable artist and Cohn was well aware. In exchange for exclusive vending rights of her astonishing baskets, Cohn provided room and board for Keyser and her husband. The exchange however was disproportionate. Cohn heavily marketed Dat-so-la-lee’s work, at traveling shows, in newspapers, magazines and world expositions. Cohn and his wife carefully romanticized the names and significance her Washoe designs and added to the lure of her pieces. And though she preferred the name Louisa he insisted on her nickname for its primitive air. Around the turn of the century Dat-so-la-lee’s treasured baskets sold for thousands of dollars. Today they easily sell for millions.

This paper examines the history of Dat-so-la-lee’s artistic contributions, and also unpacks the unequal relationship between the Cohn’s and the Keyser’s. I examine how the Cohn’s benefited from Dat-so-la-lee, whether or not Cohn took advantage of her artistry and how Cohn’s policing may have disrupted Washoe traditions. Significantly, I frustrate why neither the Washoe tribe nor its descendants have any Dat-so-la-lee baskets in their possession. I investigate this framework as a transaction of cultural commodification, where culturally relevant Native art is commodified and made available for collection and consumption.

Caitlin Keliiaa completed her undergraduate career at the University of California, Berkeley where she majored in Native American Studies, Ethnic Studies and minored in Portuguese. She is a recent graduate of the American Indian Studies Master’s program at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is currently a doctoral student in the Graduate Group in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. Ms. Keliiaa has a passion for languages, American Indian histories, oral histories and archival research.


Jacqueline Foulon
The Multiple Headdresses of the North American Indians: Materials, Functions, Evolutions

This paper presents the variety of the North American headdresses in their geographical repartition, materials and the function of the object; the continuities and evolution of their shapes offered by historical records from the 16th to the 19th century (especially paintings by G. Catlin, C. Bird King and K. Bodmer). In addition to displaying their aesthetic performance, I try to explain how these headdresses were meant to symbolize various functions and meanings, mainly power and prestige. I close this display with a few examples showing how they currently take place in different celebrations of the modern life, and in the artistic expression of the actual Indian creators keeping their aesthetic value while their symbolic meanings seem to be fading.

Jacqueline Foulon is retired teacher in history; master in modern history (1991) and in English (2000). She received her Ph.D. in American literature; The representation of the Indian in the American novels 1799-1848 (2009), presentations by the Cooper Society (Oneonta, NY) (2005, 2007, 2009). She has been a member of a seminary in North American Indians anthropology at EHESS, Paris with Marie Mauzé and Joëlle Rostkowski since 2007.


Session 9

Norma J. Hervey
Thousands of Years of Native American Art: Visible Evidence of the Creativity of American Indians

In this paper the initial group is the ancestors of the Navajo of Northeast Arizona whose petroglyphs challenge many assumptions. These include giraffes and horses centuries before any Europeans arrived. Then there were the Mississippi River peoples who vanished without explanation after developing a highly sophisticated economic system with trade routes stretching South, East and West; they also developed an agriculture-based local economy in addition to hunting and lived in permanent villages. These mounds people left a legacy of art along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers which remain primary educational sites in the 21st century. Third group is the Seneca Nation, members of the Iroquois Federation, whose matriarchal clan system was based on eight clans, each represented by animals essential to their well-being, an artistic legacy to this day. The final exploration will be an introduction to the play produced in Denver in the mid 1990’s based on the words of the Nez Perce, Chief Joseph, “Chief Joseph Speaks”. The creative achievements of these indigenous peoples are testimony to their artistic legacies and intelligence long before and after the arrival of Europeans.

Norma J. Hervey is Emerita Professor of History at Luther College. She received her Ph.D. from University of Minnesota in 1991. She is Fulbright scholar 2000 and 2007. Since 2008 she has been visiting Professor at Charles University and also NEH Summer Institute Director in 2008. She is recipient of various research awards, author of minor publications and more than 80 published book reviews.


Patricia J. O’Brien
Searching for the Origin of Buffalo Lodge: A Pawnee Sacred Animal Lodge

To the Pawnee “animal lodges” were ‘holy grounds’ where animals conferred their powers upon individual Pawnee who became doctors. These individuals then healed the sick and possessed shamanistic-like powers. Among the Pawnee these holy grounds were associated with specific geographic location. That is, they were special places upon the landscape. Using data from the visual (petroglyphs: bison and piasa) and literary (myths or tales: “The Small-Ants Bundle and the Buffalo”) arts it is argued that Indian Cave State Park in southeastern Nebraska, near modern Nemaha, is the location of the Origin of Buffalo Lodge Animal Lodge of the Pawnee.

Patricia J. O’Brien is Distinguish Emerita Professor of Anthropology at Kansas State University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois-Urbana in 1969.  Her most recent research has dealt with seeking the locations of Pawnee Indian sacred places within the Central Plains. Her earlier research has focused on the prehistoric Hopewellian and Mississippian traditions, including Cahokia, within the American Bottom heartland.


Radoslaw Palonka
In the Search of Ancient Pueblo People: Results of 20112012 Seasons of Sand Canyon-Castle Rock Community Archaeological Project, Colorado, USA
(Read by Bartosz Hlebowicz)

The first two phases of the Sand Canyon-Castle Rock Community Archaeological Project were conducted in 2011 and 2012. The project focuses on analysis and reconstruction of the settlement structure and socio-cultural changes that took place in Pueblo culture during the thirteenth century A.D. in the central Mesa Verde region, southwestern Colorado. The research project is conducted mainly in three canyons in the area and especially in Sand Canyon and Rock Creek Canyon. These canyons contain the remains of around forty small sites and one large community center – Castle Rock Pueblo, all dated to the thirteenth century A.D.

This paper summarizes the work of the Sand Canyon-Castle Rock Archaeological Project, especially the documentation and non-invasive research of Pueblo culture settlements located in two canyons: Sand Canyon and Rock Creek Canyon. The sites have well-preserved stone architecture preserved to second story. In 2012 season it was also revealed some examples of murals and rock art (paintings and petroglyphs). The rock art and the murals represented at the sites include mostly geometric designs as well as animals (snakes, turkeys) and humans or anthropomorphs that could be interpreted as fighting warriors and shamans. The paper includes also some thoughts on archaeological investigations on Ancient Pueblo culture from the North American Southwest generally and the Mesa Verde region particularly conducted with cooperation between archaeologists, anthropologists and Native Americans, including descendants of Ancient Pueblo people.

Radoslaw Palonka is Ph.D. in Department of American Archaeology at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. He specializes in archaeology and anthropology of North America. He took part in many projects and archaeological studies in Poland, Europe, and the United States. Since 2011 he leads independent project: Sand Canyon-Castle Rock Community Archaeological Project focusing on socio-cultural changes in thirteenth century A.D. Pueblo culture in the Mesa Verde region, southwestern Colorado. He is also involved in popularizing archaeology and history of Native Americans in Poland.


Session 10

Bernd Brabec de Mori & Matthias Lewy & Hein Schoer
The Sounding Museum: Auditory Ethnography and the Sound of Indigeneity

In this three-part panel we will introduce case studies from Alert Bay, BC, to Amazonia, including audio examples, to illustrate the value of an auditory approach to indigenous culture, contemporary identity reaffirmation and cross-cultural communication. The indigenous societies of the Americas have always acknowledged sound to hold a prominent position in cultural life and the taxonomy of the environment, granting it a pivotal role also in artistic expression, which, today more than ever, builds the keystone for the formation and re-formation of identity in indigenous communities.

Taking off where Geertz (1973), Fabian (1983), Pink (2007), Schafer (1977), and others leave us, we intend to initiate a discussion on auditory anthropology as a tool for rapprochement between American indigenous cultures and Western “observers”, allowing for coeval exchange of thoughts and ideas, of contemporary and traditional expression on the artistic as well as the metaphysical and social level. We suggest that by including sound in all its active and reactive forms as manifest in cultural life, our understanding of identity formation will be enhanced, utilisable in field work as well as in mediation of findings, in exhibition design as well as in traditional and new kinds of publication formats such as books, audio CD’s, and interactive platforms. It will also facilitate exchange on a global level, transforming the researcher – interlocutor relationship to a mutually beneficial dialogue.

Bernd Brabec de Mori studied musicology, philosophy and art history. He specialises in ethnomusicology of Amazonia, non-human music, music and extraordinary states of consciousness, and music psychology. He has conducted extensive field work on medicinal songs in Peruvian Amazonia, where he also worked as language teacher, and the indigenous music of the Ucayali Valley. He currently works at the Phonogrammarchiv of the ÖAW in Vienna and at the Centre for Systematic Musicology at Graz University.

Matthias Lewy followed pre-Columbian and comparative musicology studies and cultural and media management. His dissertation in the field of pre-Columbian studies was based on a three-year field project on sound and ritual among the Arekuna and Kamarakoto in the Guyanas. He has worked at FU Berlin, Viadrina Frankfurt/Oder, and HU Berlin. His regional foci are Amazonia and Mexico. Currently he works on the conceptualisation of an auditory anthropology and the material culture in the Guayanas.

Hein Schoer is a soundscaper and musician. He investigates the academic, artistic, and pedagogical implications of cultural soundscape production and implementation in collaboration with fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts, Maastricht University and the NONAM (Nordamerika Native Museum, Zürich, CH), where he also operates the Sound Chamber. Research foci are acoustic ecology, representation of the Other, museum and hearing pedagogy, surround field recording, interdisciplinary art practice, and multi-sensory exhibition design.


Session 11

Loran Olsen
Moses, “Whistemenii, Walking Medicine Robe”

From the moment I met Johnny Moses in the spring of 1979, when I resided on the Swinomish Indian Reservation in La Conner, Washington, it became clear that the spiritual and historical treasures he carries in his mind and his heart were and are significant beyond measure. He is one of the last “memorizers” who were depended upon to personally retain histories, songs, stories, and dances for future indigenous generations of the Coast Salish people. Occasionally, when elders discovered a gifted child – one with alertness and unique aural, visual, and linguistic skills; one well-coordinated and with outstanding singing abilities – they would place a special responsibility upon that young person to be the “library” for their village’s culture. Because of his wide-ranging personal background, Johnny carries nine languages and the music and dance protocols from many regions and tribal groups throughout the Pacific Northwest. On October 15th 2012, Johnny Moses was presented with the Washington State Governor’s “Heritage Award.”

Loran Olsen is Professor Emeritus of Music and Native American Studies at Washington State University, where he chaired the music department for some years. He has performed, lectured, taught and adjudicated widely, and has served as consultant and reviewer for arts and humanities agencies. Olsen wrote “Music and Dance” for the Smithsonian Handbook of North American Indians Plateau volume. He compiled the Nez Perce Music Archive, housed at Washington State University and other repositories, and wrote its accompanying guide. Dr. Olsen’s Idaho Humanities Council project on Nez Perce Music received the 1996 Schwartz Prize, given to the outstanding research project from 56 state and territorial humanities councils.


John F. Moe
Three Generations of Basket Art in the White Pigeon Family: Continuity and Material Folk Culture in American Indian Life

The art of basket making in American Indian culture has been at the center of Indian life for reasons both utilitarian and aesthetic. The woven basket acts not only to carry and store food, but also embodies important artistic material folk culture design and values. For nearly twenty-five years, I have conducted periodic fieldwork with three generations of the White Pigeon family. My fieldwork began with Edmund White Pigeon, an Ojibwa/Chippewa and Pottawattamie Indian, with long family roots in southwestern Michigan. White Pigeon and his son John, also a master basket maker, were both recognized with the receipt of Michigan Heritage Awards for their artistic mastery and community roles in the transmission of Anishinaabe(g) traditions. His children and grandchildren have maintained the basket making tradition. This paper will report the saga of three generations of Ojibwa/Chippewa and Pottawattamie basket makers and how art of Woodland Indian basket making continues as a form of artistic mastery and community folk tradition.

Born in 1917, White Pigeon began making baskets at an early age and expanded his repertoire at the Indian school, while continuing to apply his traditional designs. White Pigeon worked primarily as a logger in Michigan until the beginning of World War II. When he returned to Michigan, he continued to work in logging and making baskets. Together with his wife, Jennie Stevens Pokagon (Pottawattamie and one-quarter Ottawa), their family influence stretched across the generations and permeated their community. Their story is a point at which folklore, ethnology, personal narrative, and public policy intersect, outlining an important chapter of American Indian social history. My research focuses on the ways that material artifacts, the art of basket making, continues to articulate traditional Indian culture within the American social context and how the narratives reveal the importance of the complicated issues of indigenous education.

John F. Moe is University Graduate Faculty member of the Department of English and the Department of Comparative Studies, The Ohio State University.  He served as Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Bergen (1990-1991), Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Tampere (1995-1996), Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Tartu (2003-2004), and the Norwegian Marshall Scholar at the Norwegian Emigrant Museum (2008-2009). He holds a B.A. from the University of Iowa in English and American Civilization, an M.A. in History from Indiana University, an M.A. in Folklore from the Folklore Institute at Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in History and American Studies from Indiana University (1978).


Session 12

Marika Sandell
Artefacts from Russian America – Rethinking Material Culture in Southern Alaska

Research on Alaskan Native culture change in the Russian era focuses on the encounter between the Native cultures and the Russians. There is less specific information about how the different Alaskan Native groups interacted, especially as regards material culture, even though their frequent contacts were further intensified by the fur trade and the colonial situation.

There are few ethnographic collections from this era in museums. I will present artefacts from the Alaskan collections of the Museum of Cultures/National Museum of Finland and the lesser known Furuhjelm collection. With the help of these artefacts, I will discuss the cultural interaction of the Alutiit and the Dena’ina, as well as the complex nature of objects within the colonial framework.

Marika Sandell earned her master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from Helsinki University, Finland, with a minor in North American Studies. She also studied in the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA. She has worked on all major North American ethnographic collections held by the Museum of Cultures/National Museum of Finland. Her independent research interest is material culture of Alaskan Natives in Russian America.


Quentin Ehrmann-Curat
Continuity or Discontinuity? A History of Kwakwaka’wakw Carving, 1884–1984

Northwest Coast carving perfectly illustrates the limits of Western dichotomy between art and artefacts. The care for aesthetics appeared on the dance masks of native peoples of British Columbia and Alaska as well as, for example, on their fishing hooks. Manufactured goods, which started pouring on the coast with the beginning of maritime colonization, progressively diminished the demand for locally-made tools and accessories. The potlatch, the ceremony central to the Northwest Coast peoples’ economic, political and social life, was prohibited in 1884. Under the influence of missionarization, many chiefs gave up potlaching, and consequently artists abandoned the carving of ceremonial paraphernalia, causing a great decline in the quality and quantity of the work produced. This greatly disrupted traditional transmission mechanisms. A market for miniature poles and other curios did emerge, but in many cases their makers were not trained in the traditional way. The 1960’s showed a renewed interest of younger generations for their artistic traditions.

Among the Northwest Coast peoples, the Kwakwaka’wakw (also known by the name of Kwakiutl) never quit the potlatch system, and never ceased producing ceremonial art throughout the 20th century. Between the too-often-read thesis of a sharp break in the tradition, and the native thesis of a continuity and resistance, this paper proposes a history of Kwakwaka’wakw carving, its production, market, modes and lines of transmission, from the passing of the potlatch prohibition in 1884, to the BC Provincial Museum’s Legacy exhibit of 1984, which consecrated the emergence of a mature market for contemporary traditional Northwest Coast art.

Quentin Ehrmann-Curat is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales School in Paris, under the supervision of Marie Mauzé. He wrote his Master’s thesis on Bob Harris (aka Xi’xa’nyius, c.1865-c.1930), a little-known Kwakwaka’wakw carver (see Études Canadiennes n.72, December 2011).


Session 13

Marie-Paule Imberti & Denis Buffenoir
Michel Giraud, on the Trail of a Man, and Bringing to Light His Magnificent Collection

In 1979, the Museum of Lyon, currently the Musée des Confluences, received the collection of the OPM (Oeuvres Pontificales Missionnaires de Lyon). Among this rich collection, almost 230 artifacts are from the American continent, reflecting the “encounters” between the European clergy and Native American communities. 17 remarkable items from North America, from the Prairies Indians, deserve particular attention, not only because of their richness and geographical consistency, but also due to the light they throw on the life of the man who “collected” them, a certain Mr. Giraud, whose intriguing life-story is slowly being revealed through the archives.

Marie-Paule Imberti is in charge of the American collection Musée des Confluences in Lyon, France.

Denis Buffenoir is Research Engineer at INRIA and former student of Jacques Soustelle and Christian Duverger at the EHESS in Paris (École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales). He is also Associated Researcher for the Musée des Confluences.


Scott Manning Stevens
The Rise of Tribal Museums and Cultural Centers in the late 20th Century

My paper examines the development of the so-called ‘tribal museum’ and cultural centers after 1970 in the US and Canada. These regional heritage sites serve a variety of purposes within their home communities, not least of which is to provide an opportunity to both compliment and confront the traditional museum culture of large urban institutions such as the Smithsonian, the New York Museum of Natural History, and the Field Museum. For over a century the large urban museums established by non-native members of the majority culture have dominated the discourse of indigenous cultural studies and history. The more recent advent of the tribal museum has meant that indigenous communities are free to represent themselves as they believe to be most accurate. There are currently over 170 of these cultural centers administered by indigenous communities in the United States and Canada.

My paper provides comparative examination of the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario, the Ziibiwing Center for Anishanabe Culture and Lifeways in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and Tamastslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton, Oregon. I consider how these institutions position themselves in respect to the more traditional encyclopedic museums that I mention above. Among the issues I address are, history from an indigenous perspective, contemporary arts, and culture and language preservation. This paper is the result of site visits and interviews with directors and curators at each of the tribal institutions mentioned here.

Scott Manning Stevens is a member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is the author of several articles and chapters in collections and has lectured at universities in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Before becoming the Director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the Newberry Library, he taught at Arizona State University and SUNY Buffalo. He is completing a book on American Indians and museum culture.


Claudia Roch
Exhibiting Native American Art at an Ethnological Museum

The Berlin Ethnologisches Museum recently presented the special exhibition Native American Modernism, which was on view until late October 2012.For the first time the museum’s extensive collection of modern Native American art, ranging from the 1970s to the present was shown. Native American Modernism presents a “different modernism” produced in North America: the art of the indigenous peoples that has coevolved along with modern white Anglo-American Modernism. It is the art of an ethnic minority that struggles to hold its ground within a dominant American majority. Hence, it is always political. This art finds expression in the local variants of the American Southwest, the Northern and Southern Plains, the Northeast, and the Northwest Coast, and has often been stimulated by innovative individual artists. Other artists have developed very distinct styles of their own and do not feel committed to any specific region or art tradition. This paper focuses on the question, who collects and exhibits modern Native American art and whether Native American art belongs in an ethnological museum or in an art museum.

Claudia Roch studied ethnology, journalism, and history of religion at the Universität Leipzig and social anthropology at Glasgow University. Within her Ph.D. research she conducted fieldwork in the south-western United States. Her publications focus in particular on the representation of Native American cultural possessions and the reception of Native spirituality in the New Age movement. In 2011 she joined the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin as an academic museum assistant.


Jonathan King
Ecstatic religion, Arctic archaeology and the establishment of Igloolik in 1937

In 1937 Oblate missionary Fr. Etienne Bazin (1903-1972) established what is today the thriving Inuit community of Igloolik in the self-governing Canadian territory of Nunavut. In the same year Bazin collected from the Inuit some 400 objects excavated casually from the nearby pre-Inuit Dorset site of Awaaja. These were given to Graham Rowley (1912-2003), Arctic advocate, explorer and administrator, who in turn donated them to the University of Cambridge. Bazin had become a missionary after a visionary experience at the age of 18. While looking at a crucifix he was told:  “leave everything behind, your family and friends, and come to Me”. Central to Bazin’s missionary work was countering, and yet working with, analogous belief systems, both shamanism and syncretic forms of Christianity which developed in the Eastern Arctic in the early 20th century.

While all Inuit material culture, clothing and hunting gear may express Inuit beliefs and relationship with animals, few Inuit artefact types of the Eastern Arctic are specifically figurative. Amulets, traditionally, were more often abstract in form – bird beaks, or animal claws, rather than representational. What is remarkable about the Dorset culture collections made by Bazin, and later added to by Rowley, are the extraordinary amulets and shamanic carvings, in the form of masks, and figures. The Dorset culture (c. 500 BC–AD 1500) had been posited a dozen years earlier by Diamond Jenness at what is now the Canadian Museum of History, on the basis of an unusual archaeological assemblage from Cape Dorset. Bazin’s collection of Dorset material expresses his vital and partly unarticulated interest in Inuit belief systems, the same interest and understanding which enabled him to be so successful a missionary.

Jonathan King is a museum anthropologist, based at the University of Cambridge as the Von Hügel Fellow at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. His current project relates to historic Inuit collections in the U.K., and his most recent publications are co-edited volumes published in 2012, Turquoise (Archetype) and Extreme Collecting (Berghahn). He is also working on a history of anthropological display in the U.K.


Session 14

Kristina Aurylaite
Bodies, Borders, Crossings, and First Nations Solo Performance: Tomson Highway’s Aria and Kent Monkman’s Miss Chief Share Eagle Testickle

The focus of my paper is the workings and aesthetics of the body in First Nations Canadian solo performance/monodrama in which an actor performs multiple roles, crossing borders between races and cultures, foregrounding the mutability of the borders, the possibility of the coexistence and interaction of distinct cultures, and potential transcultural effects, as highlighted by the single body of the actor accommodating them. Contemporary artists exploit such strategies for pronouncedly subversive effects. Cree playwright Tomson Highway’s (b. 1951) little known monodrama Aria (1984) has one actor play 14 female roles of two races, white and Native. Hosted and signified by one performing body, these diverse identities, often incompatible and conflictual, become indivisible; the borderlines between them are replaced with a creative tension that could reconcile them. In several of his works, multimedia artist and performer of Cree ancestry Kent Monkman (b. 1965) embodies the persona of Miss Chief Share Eagle Testickle, an Indian princess and a drag queen, reminding of Cher in her Half-Breed, equipped with an ornamental Native headdress, high heels, and a Louis Vuitton quiver, inhabiting landscapes reminiscent of 19th paintings by white Euro-American and Canadian artists.

I argue that both artists engage in what Judith Butler calls “subversive bodily acts” to counter and parody dominant normative ideals as well as processes/effects of stereotyping and objectification. Both base their aesthetics on drawing on elements from multiple cultures and the creative effects/tensions their coexistence and interaction produce, resulting in the performer’s body seen as a contact zone in Mary Louise Pratt’s terms or a transcultural site.

Kristina Aurylaite is lecturer at the Department of English Philology, Vytautas Magnus University (Kaunas, Lithuania) and a doctoral candidate at theDepartment of Foreign Languages, University of Bergen (Norway). She is finishing a dissertation which focuses on representations of space in contemporary First Nations Canadian writing.


Maryann Henck
Traumatizing Drama – Dramatizing Trauma: The Visceral and the Visionary in Kevin Loring’s Where the Blood Mixes and Drew Hayden Taylor’s God and the Indian

With the apology and the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008, Canada expressed a “desire to put the events of the past behind us,” stating: “The truth telling and reconciliation process as a response to the Indian Residential School legacy is a sincere acknowledgment of the injustices and harms experienced by Aboriginal people and the need for continued healing.” Yet how can the “traumatizing drama” of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse – buried deep inside the psyche as flash-frozen memories and manifested in sensorial reactions – be healed?

Theatrical productions provide an ideal medium for dramatizing trauma by giving a voice to the silenced through the re-enactment of stories, which, according to Monique Mojica and Ric Knowles, are never “just stories” but also “essential ways of communicating memory, history, belief, and tradition” in First Nations cultures. Part of this memory includes the experiences of residential school survivors, including effects on their families and communities. Therefore, my proposal will focus on dramatic representations of collective trauma and its intergenerational transfer in Loring’s Where the Blood Mixes (2009) and Taylor’s unpublished God and the Indian (premiere 2013). Both playwrights offset the tragic overtones of their dramas with a healthy dose of humor as they send their protagonists on a journey in search of the truth. Whereas Loring’s Floyd travels through his own personal purgatory to seek redemption and reconciliation with his daughter, Taylor’s Johnny Indian begins a descent into hell as she plans to take revenge on her former tormentor. The question remains whether Floyd and Johnny – plagued by alcoholism, dysfunctional relationships, and haunting memories – will remain victims or break the vicious circle and emerge as victors.

Maryann Henck teaches North American literature and culture at Leuphana University, Germany. Her research interests encompass creative writing, drama, and performance studies. Her publications include White-Indian Relations: Moving into the 21st Century (Berlin + Madison/WI: Galda Verlag, 2011); “’alterNature’ in Drew Hayden Taylor’s The Berlin Blues: Construction and De(con)struction of Contested Spaces” (forthcoming, PIE – Peter Lang, Brussels) and “Identity Joyriding with the Trickster in Drew Hayden Taylor’s Motorcycles & Sweetgrass” (forthcoming, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt).