Great Lakes Digital Cultural Heritage

Dr. Heather Howard, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Affiliated Faculty of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies program and the Native American Institute here at MSU, was awarded a grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada as co-Principal Investigator with Principal Investigator Heidi Bohaker (History, University of Toronto) and co-Principal Investigator Margaret Bruchac (Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania).

Their project, Widening the Circle: Building a Community Knowledge Sharing Digital Platform with Great Lakes Indigenous Cultural Heritage Research Data,” will provide just over $40,000.00 to create and test a new public website for the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures (GRASAC). GRASAC is an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural alliance of researchers from Indigenous communities, universities, museums, and archives who share the common goal of creating deeper understandings of Great Lakes Indigenous arts, languages, identities, territoriality, and governance. GRASAC houses over five thousand detailed records of Great Lakes material culture and documentary art, thirty thousand high resolution digital photographs, audio and video recordings, as well as language resources including glossaries of Cayuga and Anishinaabemowin.

This project will ensure responsible data sharing grounded in respectful and meaningful Nation-to-Nation conversations helping to develop long-term data governance policies for GRASAC. Using Mukurtu, an open source software developed specifically for Indigenous cultural heritage, we will work with community partners to develop appropriate cultural protocols to protect data and to test the usability of the platform by Indigenous community members, including contemporary makers, teachers, and students. This project builds on work Dr. Howard has been undertaking with Michigan Indigenous makers and the collections of the MSU Museum over the last three years.

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