“The Cree people do not agree with using the word ‘artefact,’ the object then becomes institutionalized. It treats the object as if it is dead and therefore should be shelved.”
Aboriginal Liaison - Royal Alberta Museum
The collection consists of various definitions that are used to label the space in and around the reserves. One definition is from the perspective of inside the reserve, and the other definition is from the perspective of outside the reserve. In the final space the definitions were presented by written text representing the outside position, and voice recordings representing the inside position.
The word “artefact” is a term highly used within a museum or cultural institution, a place where a cultures history comes to lie on shelves and in drawers. But what if that culture is still alive? What if that culture holds very different truths towards their objects and belongings? With this seemingly simple word an entire perspective, an entire belief system is being silenced. Language is powerful. It gives meaning, purpose, knowledge and strength to those who wield it.
"THE WORD ARTEFACT INSINUATES IT IS DEAD."
First Nations People
"The descendants of the original inhabitants of North America. The Canadian Constitution recognizes three groups of Aboriginal people – Indians, Métis and Inuit. These are three separate peoples with unique heritages, languages, culture practices and spiritual beliefs. Within Canada, "First Nations" (most often used in the plural) has come into general use—replacing the deprecated term "Indians."
Indian (in-dee-uh n) n.
1. While the word “Indian” is still a legal term, its use is erratic and in decline in Canada. Some First Nations people consider the term offensive, while others prefer it to “aboriginal person/persons/people,” 2. despite the fact that the term is a misnomer given to indigenous peoples of North America by European explorers who erroneously thought they had landed on the Indian subcontinent.
"For a lot of non-natives they probably see it as trespass. Some people have said they have come and encountered a trespass sign. Like when I went to Kehewin, I encountered a trespass sign in a berry picking patch that anybody could access. So over time they are really taking those borders, those fences seriously and applying them."
Limit (lim-it) n.
30. Of the Indian Act
A person who trespasses on a reserve is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or both fine and imprisonment.
"Nor is it just “things” which, because they can be sensorily known, have spirit within them. People can also feel (or taste or hear, etc.) the properties of things. Those properties are things-in-themselves, felt things, alive things. They are the powers, which reside within things, possessing a life of their own."
Artefact (ahr-tuh-fakt) n.
1. First Nations people do not agree with using the word ‘artefact,’ the object then becomes institutionalized. It treats the object as if it is dead and therefore should be shelved.