Visiting with the Ancestors

Blackfoot Shirts in Museum Spaces

Reviewed by Karine Duhamel

May 25, 2017

Visiting with the Ancestors: Blackfoot Shirts in Museum Spaces, by Laura Peers and Alison K. Brown, is a beautifully illustrated book about the evolving relationship between Indigenous communities and cultural institutions.This is explored through the stories of five sacred shirts collected by Sir George Simpson, governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and his secretary, Edward Hopkins, in 1841.

Nearly 150 years later, the shirts came home, visiting Blackfoot territory in the spring of 2010. The book provides fascinating glimpses into the process of collaboration between institutions and communities, as well as into what happens when institutions seriously engage with the contexts in which the objects they hold were produced. Perhaps most importantly,

Visiting Awith the Ancestors provides a helpful commentary on current and, perhaps, future practices that may help to breathe new life into discussions about reconciliation and museums.

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