Voices From Here

The historical thinking concept called the Ethical Dimension asks students to make ethical judgements by considering historical contexts and different and diverging perspectives. Have students conduct research on the issue of Indigenous material culture in museums using Richard Hill’s interview and the prompts below. They can also refer to the Repatriation of Artifacts article on The Canadian Encyclopedia , but an internet search will be required to answer some of the questions. MODIFICATION: Instead of a written response, have students complete an organizer based on the guiding questions above. Students may use point form and/or work in pairs. Also consider simplifying the questions. Ask students to use their findings and Richard Hill’s interview to formulate a short opinion piece on the issues of repatriation of material culture. Encourage students to share their findings with the class. PART III: MATERIAL CULTURE IN MUSEUMS — THE ETHICAL DIMENSION STILL FROM RICHARD HILL VIDEO (HISTORICA CANADA). • How were items often originally acquired for museums? Why were items removed from communities? Provide examples of some of the items that were taken. • What kind of control over and access to items do Indigenous Nations want to have? • Conduct an internet search to find another Nation’s perspective (Richard Hill provides a Haudenosaunee perspective) on repatriation of material culture. • How do museums justify not repatriating items? • Find an example of a Canadian museum that changed its policies to allow for repatriation or collaborative management. Some candidates include the Royal British Columbia Museum, the Royal Alberta Museum, the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, and the Canadian Museum of History. As a class, visit an Indigenous history exhibit at a local museum or a virtual exhibit on Indigenous history. Find a list of virtual exhibits in the Material Culture Worksheet . Ask students to consider the ethical dimensions of the exhibit, including the representation of Indigenous history. Some prompts may include: • Does the text of the exhibit make it sound like the peoples existed in the past? Does the text link to anything or anyone current? • How are the objects presented? • Are descriptions of objects’ significance included? Is their importance explained from the perspective of the Nation? • Does the exhibit include a description of how the Indigenous community or communities were consulted or involved in developing the exhibit? • Is there a mention of the relationship between the museum and members of the Nation? • Does the museum have an Indigenous collection and repatriation policy or collaboratively manage the items? Based on what you have seen, do you feel consultation and representation were done in a meaningful way? EXTENSION ACTIVITY: MATERIAL CULTURE IN MUSEUMS Tip: Examine the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action numbers 67–70 to further promote student understanding of the role of museums and archives in the reconciliation process. 15