John Pohl of The Montreal Gazette recently journeyed to the Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City to meet with Marie-Paule Robitaille, editor of Journey to the Heart of the First Peoples Collections recently published by Baraka Books, and to visit the museum. He writes:
“Indeed, the book is a treasure trove of information, with 15 essays about the collection and hundreds of illustrations, all with explanations of what the object depicted was used for. It also contains footnotes to more references, and a long bibliography.”
Musée de la civilisation excavates the stories behind aboriginal artifacts
by John Pohl – The Montreal Gazette
The story of how Quebec City’s Musée de la civilisation built its collection of aboriginal artifacts reflects the history of the aboriginals themselves since their early contact with Europeans — their tools, clothing and weapons were first collected as trophies of subjugation without reference to how the objects were used.
But as Marie-Paule Robitaille writes in Journey to the Heart of the First Peoples Collections, the book she edited for the museum, what these early collectors preserved is now used by contemporary aboriginals to regain lost parts of their cultures.
New storylines emerge, such as with Poundmaker, a Plains Cree chief known as a peacemaker who was imprisoned for treason, said Robitaille, curator of the collection until her recent retirement. “Most histories referred to him with the same few lines, but we found fuller accounts in the archives.”
Aboriginals participate in the identification process. In fact, everything in the collection is organized and exhibited in collaboration with aboriginals representing their nations, she said. Read on…