top of page

Recognizing Relations in Big Horn

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

By Jacinda Brisson, Archives Indigenous Research Intern

Young Canada Works at Building Careers in Heritage (Career Focus)

Back to The Cairn

The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is a place to make connections, learn, and share histories. Recognizing Relations has been a way to share these experiences with our neighbouring First Nations since the project was originally started in 2014 by Dagny Dubois, with the help of Corleigh Powderface.

The goal of the project has been to bring Indigenous photos from the archives to the Elders of our surrounding nations and ask for their knowledge to identify people, families, or places depicted in these photos. The project has since continued and grown as a way for us to connect with the Indigenous nations that originally occupied these lands. During every meeting, we get a chance to show these communities what we have in our collections and we are grateful to the Elders who offer the context and knowledge behind them.

Image 1

At the end of March, we were able to extend the project to Big Horn, a Stoney Nakoda reserve located 211km northwest of Banff. Recognizing Relations Project Facilitator Colleen Crawler and I sat down with a group of Elders and helpers from Big Horn for one of our longest meetings. We looked through numerous photographs and videos that we brought from the archives and made progress. Not only were we able to get dozens of identifications and stories from the materials we brought, but we were able to make meaningful connections and build on our relationship between the residents of Big Horn and the Whyte Museum.

Image 2

At its core, the Recognizing Relations Project is about showing Indigenous nations what we have in our archives and bringing the knowledge they hold about their people and nations to the forefront. After all, they are the experts on their own nations, not us.

I have had the opportunity to participate in several of these meetings, listening, taking notes, and helping with other general tasks to help make meetings go smoothly. I love to hear the groups telling stories and reminiscing about people or families, joking about something shown in a photo or video, or even just hearing the Elders speaking in their language. It’s a chance to share histories and reminisce. It’s how I know these meetings are doing something good.

Image 3

With the help of Colleen, the Whyte Museum Archives and Special Collections has been able to hold numerous meetings with Elders from our surrounding First Nation communities this year in addition to past meetings that Dagny and Corleigh had organized. Establishing these relationships has been an important task and also a stepping stone for work with other Indigenous-led projects within the museum, such as the Stoney AV Club’s film projects.

We are grateful for the opportunity to have made these connections and thankful for the funding received from Banff Canmore Community Foundation, Museum Assistance Program grant funding. and donations made from the Whyte Museum’s Rocky Mountain Legends Online Auction. We look forward to the future where we plan to reach out to even more communities and continue to maintain the relationships we have so far established.



Image 1: Recognizing Relations brochure.

Image 2: Group picture with Elders and helpers from Big Horn meeting. Front row (left to right): John Wesley, Lawrence Crawler, Charlie Abraham and unknown. Photo by Jacinda Brisson.

Image 3: Kootenay Plains, now an ecological reserve, was traditionally a camp and ceremonial grounds for the Stoney Nakoda, and the setting for many of the Stoney Nakoda photographs in our collections. Photo by Jacinda Brisson.


Back to The Cairn

1 comment