How beadwork and art is used to tell contemporary stories and across cultures with Wampum-an aboriginal story-telling methods. It is interesting to think of visual arts and crafts as historiographies. Wampum alone challenges the existing written forms as the only “valid” records of our history.
“CBC: Carolina Echeverria, you asked artists participating in the Beadwork exhibit to draw inspiration from the aboriginal story-telling method called Wampum. What is Wampum?
Carolina Echeverria: Wampum is a method that Native people have used to record things like peace treaties, which took white people thousands of pages to write. First Nations people condensed it all into one beaded image. The flip side is that Canadians often did not respect the treaties, because they said they were not written. But a wampum is in fact a written record…”
I was interested in find out how First Nation/Art could be used without cultural appropriation after so many incidents in the fashion world and beyond. Christi Belcourt, before her collaboration with the fashion house Valentino, took her time to think about and find out if this would be culturally appropriate. In my earlier weblogs, I investigated cultural appropriation in the context of arts/fashion and beyond.
This is how Christi Belcourt used her art for an education setting founded on a First Nation story: Sacred Fisher Story. This mural project is actually a tool guide for educators and students across Ontario based on First Nation teachings and knowledge. Lesson plans are provided, and much more.
This collective work demonstrates the commitment to preserving language by creating an immersion art setting for participants. It is the elders, their knowledge, birds and plants, and language that are the driving force of this artistic purposed project that is used to revive one’s language. Initiated by Christi Belcourt and others.
“For thousands of years the Anishinabek have been using a Red Ochre paint called Onaman. It is made from red ochre, animal or fish fat, and other ingredients such as urine and duck or seagull eggs. These are cooked together on a low heat. The longer you cook the paint the redder it becomes. In the language the word “Onaman” refers to the action of thickening something. There are many types of Onaman, most of them use types of Fungi, and each of them thickening agents, particularly in the clotting of blood in wounds.” – Isaac Murdoch
In these two videos, Christi Belcourt explains her paintings, and the inspiration for them. It is evident that Christi’s work is driven by nature, and ecological issues regarding water, extinction of certain birds, and plants (along with their edibility and medicinal value). She refers to invaluable traditional knowledge. Christi explains how roots in one of her works represent connection to Mother Earth and her ancestors. My initial topic of inquiry is: ethnobotany through the Arts lens. Christi’s works are inspired by plants.
In one of my initial weblog entries, I posted an article about fashion clothing designed by Yellowtail inspired by plants, and based on indigenous traditional knowledge. The above website addresses the concept of cultural appropriation and could be extended to traditional knowledge that goes beyond the arts (e.g. knowledge on medicinal plants).
Food is our Medicine is an interesting website where I learned more about Native plants, landscaping projects, Seneca people and their policy on re-instating local indigenous species on Seneca lands. The importance of this policy and its potential implications are of value since “The Seneca Nation has demonstrated its commitment to continuing and expanding efforts to reintroduce Native species to Seneca territories. The Seneca Nation and its planting policy can serve as a model for other Native Nations as they work to reintroduce the species that have, for so long, played a secondary role in the life and health of many indigenous peoples.” Please see the policy .pdf attached.
This is a document of descriptions and uses of plant foods by Canadian Indigenous peoples. It also addresses the places of occurrences, historical references and food use such as Edibility and Digestibility. I wanted to learn more about the food plants eaten since I have a little knowledge in this area.
This is a website of a society of ethnobiology that has papers on the use of plants and associated traditional knowledge in different communities across Nunvat. “Reintegration of this knowledge could help inform culturally-appropriate climate change adaptation strategies.”
This paper documents the traditional knowledge and medicinal uses of plants by the Inuit of Nunavut. This type of information is a useful way for the preservation of Inuit culture, oral tradition, and for the integration of traditional medicine with Western medical practices in the Arctic communities. Thirteen different species were analyzed using enthnobotanical methodology.