Ancestors

Ancestors: Indigenous Peoples of Western Canada in Historic Photographs 

Curators: Sarah Carter and Inez Lightning

Opening on 12 February 2021 (unless it is again delayed due to COVID-19)

This exhibition will explore a selection of photographs from a rich and diverse collection with potential for enhancing our understanding of the history, economies, culture, ceremonies, and art of the Indigenous Peoples of the western provinces. By sharing with us the many insights and perspectives generously provided to them by Elders and keepers of traditional knowledge, the curators hope to show us some of the ways that the photographs in this exhibition represent more than moments frozen in time; they carry stories and legacies into the future.

In order to learn from these photographs, it is crucial that we try to understand them in context. Most of the photographs in this collection were created in the nineteenth century by non-Indigenous photographers. Frequently sold as souvenirs or postcards, these images of Indigenous peoples were contrived and disseminated for commercial, ideological, and imperial reasons, and they seemed to satisfy a hunger for exotic, nostalgic, and romanticized depictions of so-called “vanishing” peoples.

Link to these related stories: "Sarah Carter Wins 2020 Killam PrizeThe Quad (26 May 2020)  and "University of Alberta Professor Scoops Prestigious Killam Prize for Work on Prairie History of Women and Indigenous People"  in the Edmonton Journal (3 June 2020).