(Re)Interpreting the Indigenous and Western Cartographic Record

Stories from the Land

 On February 12, 2016, The U of S History Department’s Historical Geographic Information Systems (HGIS) Laboratory, in collaboration with the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research (GDI), hosted Metis visual artist Christi Belcourt and Anishinaabeg knowledge holder Isaac Murdoch. During their visit, Belcourt and Murdoch engaged in a daylong workshop with faculty and graduate students entitiled, (Re)Interpreting the Indigenous and Western Cartographic Record: Artistic Expression in the Spatial and Digital Humanities and participated in Askiy Achimowina: Stories from the Land, a public storytelling event.

 Drawing on Belcourt’s artistic work in Mapping Roots: Perspectives of Land and Water in Ontario, the workshop focused on both western and Indigenous map making traditions, engaging in discussion of Indigenous perspectives of map making, colonial encounters and the process of reclaiming Indigenous spaces through mapping and artistic expression. Graduate students working on Indigenous and land use research presented their work, and Belcourt and Murdoch shared their interpretations of Indigenous mapping traditions. Approximately 18 people participated at the workshop, drawn from the HGIS lab and the History Department Graduate Student body, as well as a additional participants from GDI’s Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program, the Gwenna Moss Centre and the College of Law. The workshop was held at GDI’s Publishing Department which houses the largest collection of Belcourt’s work outside of the National Gallery making it an ideal location for the event.

 Following the workshop, Belcourt and Murdoch facilitated an evening of traditional storytelling at Station 20 West. An audience of approximately 60 people listened to traditional Anishinaabeg, Cree and Metis stories of the land as Belcourt and Murdoch were joined by Metis author and storyteller, Maria Campbell. Audience members were given the opportunity to share their own stories, and participate in an exercise of collaborative storytelling.

 The project was funded by a University of Saskatchewan, Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity, Aboriginal Fellowship ($4000).