Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Photograph: Hobbema First Nations Family Group, ca. 1915. SPRA 0052.02-2002.57.01 Part of Field’s Studio fonds

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we are sharing some of these images and documents.

For seven years, American born Clarence Field operated a photograph business from his studio in Grande Prairie. He often took the show on the road in an old Model T van. With the Depression reducing the interest in expensive studio portraits, Field’s closed his studio in 1929 and returned to farming. After he died two years later, his wife moved out of the area. Field’s collection of glass negatives were held by various family, friends, and neighbours before finding their way to the South Peace Regional Archives.

Unlike many photographs taken of Indigenous people, this family is largely identified: Michael Buffalo’s family from the Hobbema First Nations in Central Alberta, left to right: Bella, Mary (Nepoose) Buffalo, Margaret, possibly Peggy (Allard) Buffalo, Michael’s mother. It is unknown who originally commissioned these images and for what purpose. Similar images in the Field’s Studio fonds were printed as postcards, which suggests they were posed for commercial reasons. Whatever the original intent for the photograph, for descendants researching their history, images like these can help make important connections to their past.

We have a relatively small number of images depicting Indigenous peoples at the Archives. The disparity between Indigenous and settler records can somewhat skew our understanding of the history of the region. If you have any records you would be willing to share, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Finding Memory: Highlights from the Indigenous Reference Files

Image: SPRA 510.12.18.015 Part of the Indigenous Reference Files collection

One of the large projects for our summer student this year was digitizing the Indigenous reference files. This project involved digitizing and describing the reference files related to Indigenous peoples in this region. There are twenty-two Indigenous reference files with twenty centimeters of textual records. This project was prioritized to support the Indigenous History Committee, whose purpose is to examine the ways we can preserve and promote the history of the Indigenous Peoples in the south Peace in order to support reconciliation. This committee was established in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) Calls to Action. The Indigenous Reference File Project was chosen because it helps make Indigenous centered information publicly available.  This helps to do our part in fulfilling the TRC Calls to Action. This project was made possible with funding support from Young Canada Works.

The digitization portion of this project was finished in mid-July. As we create an itemized finding aid for the files we will start to share some of the items through blog posts, like this one!

This item is an article from the Daily Herald Tribune in 1980 about members of the Grande Prairie Friendship Center performing a rain dance in Bear Creek Park to help farmers in the area who were battling with dry fields. The nine members pictured, who are unnamed, were joined by the Mayor Al Romanchuk.  Joe Campbell also joined in full regalia despite being on crutches. The article says that the dance must have worked as it rained the next day!

The reference files give us a glimpse into our local history, and especially now that they are digitized, are an incredibly valuable resource! If you want to see more from the Indigenous reference files, keep your eye on the blog for posts like this.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Photograph: Two Cree women fleshing a moose hide, 1935. SPRA 0177.074 Part of Ann Macklin fonds.

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we are sharing some of these images and documents.

A picture is worth a thousand words but without words to provide context, a photograph often raises more questions than they answer. Who were these two women and where was the photograph taken? What was the relationship between the photographer and the women? Are these two women looking over their shoulder to pose for the camera? Or were they startled by it? Was this scene captured by the photographer as an aide memoire or to share “their” experience with friends and family?

We do have some context for the image. Within the Ann Macklin fonds, there are several photographs of hunting trips, including photographs of “Cree family guides”. Perhaps these two women were part of guiding family. With the limited caption, “Two Cree women fleshing a moose hide” we cannot know for sure. The image does provide some evidence of Cree women’s labour and their hide-processing techniques. But it leaves us bereft of valuable personal information that would add richness to the history of the region, the Cree community, and these women in particular.

If you have any information about who these women might be, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Finding Memory: Highlights from the Indigenous Reference files

SPRA 510.12.07.012b-c Part of the Indigenous Reference Files collection

One of the large projects for our summer student this year was digitizing the Indigenous reference files. This project involved digitizing and describing the reference files related to Indigenous peoples in this region. There are twenty-two Indigenous reference files with twenty centimeters of textual records. This project was prioritized to support the Indigenous History Committee, whose purpose is to examine the ways we can preserve and promote the history of the Indigenous Peoples in the south Peace in order to support reconciliation. This committee was established in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) Calls to Action. The Indigenous Reference File Project was chosen because it helps make Indigenous centered information publicly available.  This helps to do our part in fulfilling the TRC Calls to Action. This project was made possible with funding support from Young Canada Works.

The digitization portion of this project was finished in mid-July. As we create an itemized finding aid for the files we will start to share some of the items through blog posts, like this one!

This item is an article from the magazine “Legacy” about Indigenous people reconnecting with their culture and spirituality after Residential Schools stripped them of it.  There are stories of a few different people talking about Ka-keh-ci-hi-to-win Gatherings (Group Comforting in Cree) in their community helping them heal.  The photo is of George Amato, Jodi Bork, and Bryn Podolchuk; George Amato is an elder in his community.   He said in the article “we care about each other in this group.  And that’s how my people were.  They Cared. If they had one last piece of meat, they’d be sure to share half with you.  They made offerings of thanks when they killed an animal.  They took time to laugh and sing together.  That’s what we’re doing here.”

The reference files give us a glimpse into our local history, and especially now that they are digitized, are an incredibly valuable resource! If you want to see more from the Indigenous reference files, keep your eye on the blog for posts like this.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Image: Sturgeon Lake Indian Reserve, 1942. SPRA 0294.19  Part of Lee Pooler fonds.

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we are sharing some of these images and documents.

The caption for the photograph above reads: “Copy of an original photograph. Treaty Day at Sturgeon Lake Indian Reserve in the company of Constable Brown of the RCMP.” Treaty 8 is a pivotal document with a profound impact on Indigenous families as well as Indigenous and settler relationships. For such an important document and process, we have remarkably few records that specifically mention the Treaty. These kinds of records are important as they provide documentary evidence of the ongoing relationship between the federal government and local Indigenous communities.

If you have any stories or records you would like to share about the history of Treaty 8 in the South Peace region,  we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Finding Memory: Highlights from the Indigenous Reference files

SPRA 510.12.05.002 Part of the Indigenous Reference Files collection

One of the large projects for our summer student this year was digitizing the Indigenous reference files. This project involved digitizing and describing the reference files related to Indigenous peoples in this region. There are twenty-two Indigenous reference files with twenty centimetres of textual records. This project was prioritized to support the Indigenous History Committee, whose purpose is to examine the ways we can preserve and promote the history of the Indigenous Peoples in the south Peace in order to support reconciliation. This committee was established in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) Calls to Action. The Indigenous Reference File Project was chosen because it helps make Indigenous centred information publically available.  This helps to do our part in fulfilling the TRC Calls to Action. This project was made possible with funding support from Young Canada Works.

The digitization portion of this project was finished in mid-July. As we create an itemized finding aid for the files we will start to share some of the items through blog posts, like this one!

This item is a photocopied version of the 1875 Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) Winter Arrangements in the Athabasca District. The HBC list includes every fort in the district with the names of people serving those areas and their role, signed by the Chief Commissioner, James A Grahame.  This item came from the Culture and Arts reference file which includes photocopies of historical documents (like this one!), magazine articles about Indigenous culture, newspaper clippings, and more!

The reference files give us a glimpse into our local history, and especially now that they are digitized, are an incredibly valuable resource! If you want to see more from the Indigenous reference files, keep your eye on the blog for posts like this.

Finding Memory: Highlights from the Indigenous Reference files

SPRA 510.12.17.007 Part of the Indigenous Reference Files collection

One of the large projects for our summer student this year was digitizing the Indigenous reference files. This project involved digitizing and describing the reference files related to Indigenous peoples in this region. There are twenty-two Indigenous reference files with twenty centimeters of textual records. This project was prioritized to support the Indigenous History Committee, whose purpose is to examine the ways we can preserve and promote the history of the Indigenous Peoples in the south Peace in order to support reconciliation. This committee was established in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) Calls to Action. The Indigenous Reference File Project was chosen because it helps make Indigenous centered information publicly available.  This helps to do our part in fulfilling the TRC Calls to Action.  This project was made possible with funding support from Young Canada Works.

The digitization portion of this project was finished in mid-July. As we create an itemized finding aid for the files we will start to share some of the items through blog posts, like this one!

This first story is from a newspaper clipping from May 13, 1948. Mrs. Florence Calliou gave birth to a baby girl on Mother’s Day in the Grande Prairie Municipal Hospital after a long journey with her husband and two-year-old son. The journey began with a one hundred and twenty mile (193 KM) walk to reach Fort Nelson, which took eight days. Mrs. Calliou explained that the snow was still very deep where they were travelling through even though it was May! After their long walking journey, they got on a plane to Grande Prairie and traveled four-hundred miles (643 KM) in less than an hour. The baby was born shortly after their arrival to Grande Prairie and Dr. A. M. Carlisle said the baby was in good shape (SPRA 510.12.17.007).

The reference files give us a glimpse into our local history, and especially now that they are digitized, are an incredibly valuable resource! If you want to see more from the Indigenous reference files, stay tuned to the blog for posts like this.

Other stories:

510.12.17.006  – 510.12.18.015

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Photograph: First Dominion Day Celebration On Grande Prairie. 1910. SPRA 0001-2001.01.102 Part of Pioneer Museum Society of Grande Prairie and District fonds.

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

The original caption for this image reads, “Aboriginal Teepees and Metis Tents at Saskatoon Lake for the first Dominion Day Celebrations on the Grande Prairie.” The journals and diaries of early white settlers to the region often mention regular and positive relationships and interactions with all the Indigenous communities already in place. Some of those interactions include trading, labour, guiding, and fun events such as the Dominion Day celebration depicted. While we have a number of records and holdings that document white settler experience of fun, we have very little evidence of the Indigenous experience of fun during the early days of white settlement. What were their special cultural events, sports, and entertainment?

If you have any records of stories you would like to share about any aspect of Indigenous history in the region,  we would love to hear from you! Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Hudson’s Bay Buildings, Fort St. John, [ca. 1949]. SPRA 032.08.08.0945 Part of Campbell Family fonds

 

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we are sharing some of these images and documents.

The original caption on the back of the photograph states: “Two of the old Hudson Bay Co’s Buildings on the Peace River – Old Fort St John. There were originally 3 b’l’dg’s – One was burned a few years ago. It was the store house that was burned. No 1. was the store where articles were exchanged for furs etc. with Indians who came in canoes on Peace River. N 2. was the Court House The little room at the End was the jail. The Factor was also in charge. Many thrilling events occurred here.”

Ft. St. John, demolished shortly after this photograph was taken, was the unlikely home of two Ft. Dunvegan fur trade ledgers discovered by a Canadian engineer on the Alaska Highway crew. Originally created to document the business of the fort, these two ledgers contain information about some of the Indigenous families living and trading in the region in the early to mid-1800s. Like many of the documents and photographs preserved in the SPRA, the ledgers have taken on an informational life beyond their original creator’s intent.

If you have any stories you would like to share, or questions you want to ask about your family’s ties to the fur trade, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Photograph: Cree Family Guides, 1935. SPRA 177.070 Part of Ann Macklin fonds

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we would like to start sharing some of these images and documents.

This photo (SPRA 177.070) is captioned “Two Cree families accompanied us on our trip. They killed our meat–moose, deer, bear, porcupine and skunk–and picked cranberries and blueberries for us. They pitched our tents and packed our horses. Last, but not least they were our guides.” This photo is part of the Ann Macklin fonds; Ann Macklin (nee Roberts) was born at the Kathryn Prittie Hospital and grew up on her parents homestead in the Clairmont area. Ann Roberts, Violet Jebb, and Mr. Bredin took a trip to Nose Mountain in September 1935 and had two Cree families join them as their guides.  The guides in these photos are not identified.

If you know who they might be, or have any stories to share about Indigenous people in the area, we would love to hear from you! Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105 to share any memories or information you have!