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Ethnohistory conference comes to Winnipeg

August 30, 2017 — 

From October 11 to 14 this year Winnipeg will host the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Ethnohistory, coordinated by conference chair and recently appointed head of Native Studies, Cary Miller who comes to our campus from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she taught in the history department for fifteen years.  Miller brings with her research interests in Anishinaabe leadership in the early 19th century, Anishinaabe women’s history as well as in treaties and sovereignty.

Miller is currently serving as Acting Secretary for the American Society for Ethnohistory, an organization that explores the interdisciplinary methodology of Ethnohistory which pulls largely from the fields of history and anthropology.  Ethnohistorical studies suggests cultural understanding is needed to interpret historical events, and that cultures change over time giving cultural studies an historical dimension.

The field came about in the 1950s as scholars were called upon to serve as expert witnesses in United States federal cases brought under the Indian Claims Commission Act which allowed tribes compensation for land fraud, and non-payment of treaty annuities.  Member scholars today continue to do important research on behalf of tribes throughout the Americas in addition to their academic commitments.

The theme for this year’s conference, Borders Visible and Invisible, has inspired over 200 ethnohistorians to submit papers that explore archival resources, oral history, literature, language revitalization, digital humanities, and community initiated projects into their scholarship to give voice to the stories of indigenous communities. Bridging the border that sometimes divides the academy from Indigenous communities is one of the borders this year’s conference hopes to address.

The resources of the University of Manitoba and the city of Winnipeg more broadly make our community the perfect choice to host this conference.  With our treasure-trove of relevant ethnohistorical cultural institutions, including the Hudson’s Bay Company archives, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and collections at the Manitoba Museum and Winnipeg Art Gallery, scholars will learn what a vibrant place The University of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg are for scholars exploring Indigenous studies.

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