Since 2019 I have been working with a group of Blackfoot-led Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers, artists, students, and Elders to explore the use of digital technologies to reconnect historical Blackfoot items held in collections in the UK with people living on Blackfoot territory. While the items themselves remain abroad, we can provide access to detailed digital imagery of the items and their associated knowledge through an innovative microsite and public programming.
The project’s title, Mootookakio’ssin, was given by Elder Leroy Little Bear and translates to “distant awareness". It is important to note that all of the data generated from this project is property of the Blackfoot Digital Library, and thus the Blackfoot people.
My role has involved project coordination and leading the design and development of a microsite for the Blackfoot Digital Library that features the digital Blackfoot items that have been captured with photogrammetry and RTI. The site design, by Simone Bowes, attempts to reflect both the modern and traditional qualities of the digital collection. The site is developed by Calvin Lloyd with support from Justin Petluk using React and model-viewer, Google's new web component for displaying 3D models.
A large part of displaying the Blackfoot items has also been to reconnect the items with Blackfoot knowledge and material culture. Research assistants and Blackfoot knowledge keepers have been working steadily to contextualize the items and all their cultural complexity.
The project is funded by the SSHRC New Frontiers in Research Fund and an AHRC Research Networking Scheme. Our large group has had a very active first two years and is looking forward to resuming community engagement activities once public health restrictions are lifted. We plan to continue this research with our community partners and visiting more Blackfoot items in both local and international museums.
Learn more about our research at blackfoot.cctbd.ca