About us...

ACCI flows from the knowledge that Cree culture must be captured, maintained, shared, celebrated, and practiced. Cree Elders have spoken of the need for a central place for the protection of the way, and have developed a vision for Aanischaaukamikw over several decades.

Mar 14, 2016

The trail of the Rabbit Fur Coat

One of the most exciting things that happened with our museum collection in the last few months was the amazing reunification of an object with the family of the maker.

In May 2015, ACCI hosted a Curatorial workshop lead by Moira McCaffrey, and one of the attendees was Linda Stewart Georgekish from Wemindji. At this time, she mentioned to us that her late mother Demaris Gilpin Stewart had made a rabbit fur coat ‘for a museum’ back in the 1980s and that she has been looking for it ever since! We informed her that we do have a few rabbit fur coats in our collection and that we would keep an eye out.

           A few months ago, Linda posted a photograph on Facebook of her nephew, Bernard Stewart, modelling the coat when he was a boy in 1980:

Bernard Stewart, 1980

Nov 4, 2015

A long way from home! - Young Samí Reindeer Herders visit Eeyou Istchee

“How on earth did you end up here in Ouje-Bougoumou, of all places?” I asked Niila Inga, one of the leaders of the 29 Samí youth delegation. The question had been on my mind all morning. Niila and I were sitting in the Elder’s Gathering Space, taking a bit of a rest during a very full afternoon visit at Aaanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute on October 7, 2015. Niila’s response - they were looking to connect with the people of Eeyou Istchee, in particular the youth – they had come looking for guidance and expertise because the Cree have been successful in negotiating a settlement for future generations.
This youth delegation, representing each Sápmi region in Sweden, travelled over 5,000 kilometres to come and meet the people of Eeyou Istchee, to share their culture and to learn from the people here. For over a year they researched the history of the Eastern James Bay Cree, contacted and coordinated with the governments of Waswanipi and Ouje-Bougoumou, and raised funds to cover the costs of their flight, transportation, food and lodging.

Niila and the rest of the youth delegation are not just ordinary young people from Sápmi, Sweden, they are reindeer herders. This youth delegation is but one of many young Samí trying to preserve and continue the Traditional ways of the Samí people, as young reindeer herders they are part of a long tradition in their territory.
We were honoured to have them visit us on Wednesday October 7, 2015, part of a two day visit in Ouje-Bougoumou. The delegation was greeted by Ron Simard, Ouje-Bougoumou Tourism Officer, in the Billy Diamond Hall.

The group enjoyed a guided tour of the Institute including our beautiful Exhibit Hall. Harold Bosum gave a Tamarack Decoy making demonstration that generated a lot of interest, questions and queries from the delegation. At the end of the demonstration Harold gifted the youth delegation with the decoy that he made during their visit.  


Lloyd Cheechoo presented gifts to the Samí youth on behalf of the Cree Native Arts and Crafts Association (CNACA).

Our young guests also had the opportunity to meet with one of the Cree Nation Government’s archaeologists, Dario Izaguirre, and learn about the role that archaelogy has played in Eeyou Istchee as evidence in Land Claims, and also try their hand at flint knapping. Dario is somewhat of an “artiste” in flint knapping fashioning of projectiles and arrow tips.

 The Samí (Lapp) people have inhabited the northern portions of Scandinavia, Finland and eastward over the Russian Kola Peninsula since ancient times. Archaeological finds suggest that the Samí people have lived in the Arctic region for thousands of years. Russia, Finland, Norway and Sweden claim territories ill what is now regarded as Sápmi (Lapland).
The Samí were originally nomads, living in tents during the summer and more sturdy peat huts during the colder seasons.The Samí based their livelihood mainly on hunting and fishing; they often bartered the products from such animals as reindeer, moose and beaver with a heavy reliance and connection between the humans and the animals on the land.   

The Samí today maintain their rich culture and long-established traditions, but are as much part of modern society as any other person in Sweden. They live in modern housing and only use tents as very temporary accommodations during reindeer migrations if they don’t already own cottages in the mountains and forests. http://samenland.nl/lap_sami_si.html

Add chttp://skandihome.com/skandiblog/uncategorized/sami-culture-customs/aption



Samí herders call their work boazovázzi, which translates as "reindeer walker," and that's exactly what herders once did, following the fast-paced animals on foot or wooden skis as they sought out the best grazing grounds over hundreds of miles of terrain. Times have changed. Herders are now assigned to specific parcels of the reindeer's traditional grazing territories at designated times of the year. To make the lifestyle workable, herders use all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles to maintain hundreds of miles of fences between territories and move large herds in accordance with land-use regulations. Today, only ten per cent of Swedish Samí earn a living from the reindeer industry, and many combine their family businesses with tourism, fishing, crafts and other trades. ttp://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/11/sami-reindeer-herders/benko-text 
On their final night in Ouje-Bougoumou the young Samí reindeer herders treated the community to an evening performance of traditional songs, presentations on cultural practices and traditional clothing, as well as a beautiful video of the land and the way of life of the Samí.

Gift presented to Elder Lawrence Shecapio on behalf of the Ouje-Bougoumou Cree Nation - Samí Evening Performance and Presentation- (Capissisit Lodge, Thursday October 8, 2015/ Photo credit: Kelly Pineault )
We were sad to say good-bye, but hope that this is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue and a lasting relationship between the people of Eeyou Istchee and the people of Sàpmi.

Until we meet again,

Kelly Pineault
Coordinator of Education






Sep 29, 2015

ACCI at IILF! (The 9th International Indigenous Librarians Forum 2015) by Annie Bosum, ACCI Librarian

I participated as a poster presenter at the 9th International Indigenous Librarians Forum held at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, August 4-7, 2015.  The delegates came from many places around the world: New Zealand, Australia, Vancouver, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Ontario, to name a few.  

One of the buildings, University of Manitoba
DAY 1: Upon arrival, after a long journey from Ouje-Bougoumou, I was whisked away into the outskirts of Winnipeg, which was about an hour and half drive, to Turtle Lodge in the Sagkeeg First Nation village.  Elder David Courchene Jr., led the group in a ceremony involving teachings, songs, and drumming.  Later on we were invited to the welcome reception in the Marshall McLuhan Hall on the University of Manitoba campus. Among the speakers to welcome and entertain us were Mary-Jo Romaniuk, University of Manitoba Librarian; Deborah Young, Executive Leader of Indigenous Education and Dovie Thomason who did a reading from her book – as a writer myself, this was the highlight of the evening for me---a wonderful performance indeed!

Conference Emcee Carl Stone with local Elders
DAY 2:  Participants were invited to a Sunrise Ceremony on the grounds of the University of Manitoba.  Following breakfast; Carl Stone, the Emcee for the conference, welcomed and introduced the delegates and the Elders and engaged everyone in the Knowledge Keepers’ and Traditional Peoples’ Sharing Circle.  The keynote speaker during lunch was Ry Moran, Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR).  

Me in front of my poster !

During the break we set up our Poster presentations: there was genuine interest in the poster that I had prepared; questions were asked about our adaptation of the Brian Deer Classification scheme and found the steps we took in implementing it very interesting. One of the participants suggested that we put our catalogue of the changes we made to the Brian Deer Classification scheme online for others to see. 

Conference Area where presentations took place

Other presenters/exhibitors were also present in the poster exhibition room: UBC Library; Pemmican Publications; Fernwood Publishing; Goodminds.com (Jeff Burnham);the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre and writer/author Larry Lovie, whom I bought a book from to add to the ACCI library, about Residential Schools.  Throughout the day there were many presenters from other libraries, museums, and resource centers.

The closing keynote speakers were Elders Dave Courchene Jr., Gary Robson and Florence Paynter. That evening we were given the option of dining out in the downtown area of Winnipeg with fellow conference participants.  I got an invitation from the team from UBC, it was a great, enjoyable meal…an evening that felt like I had met up with old friends!

Later on, we were separated into groups for a tour of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights that focused on traditional culture.  I enjoyed our lesson from the beaver and the turtle, and I got to see the huge Metis octopus bag! You can watch the video on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SodbjHdLvFo about the mounting of this bag- highly interesting!
Museum of Human Rights
Huge octopus bag on display

DAY 3:  Unfortunately, I missed Brian Deer when he joined the conference via Skype (due to illness he could not attend the IILF).  According to those who were able to attend, he was very humble, and mentioned that he was not comfortable taking copy-right ownership to the Brian Deer Classification Scheme.

In the late afternoon the conference shifted its focus toward the non-indigenous delegates where discussions evolved on the theme “How to be an Effective Ally”, led by Monique Woroniak.  A bus was scheduled to take the delegates to the First Folkorama pavilion which featured a Folkorama VIP Tour. 

DAY 4:  We took a bus to downtown Winnipeg to visit the Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Centre and the Peoples’ Library: http://www.mices.com. We were given a quick walk-through the two story building and visited the library, which holds approximately 10 000 books, periodicals, and audio visual material.  I was surprised by the large number of resources contained in a small space, they did mention that they had an extra archival area downstairs as well.

Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Centre and the Peoples' Library

We then took the bus to the University of Winnipeg where we were given a tour of their Archives; Brett Lougheed gave us a brief presentation about the Two-Spirited Collection.  
Tour of archives, University of Manitoba

We visited the Centre for Rupert Land Studies Collection with a presentation by Roland Bohr. As he spoke to us, I couldn’t help but notice all the interesting books in that tiny room!  I wished I was also able to do the tour to see the Library’s Indigenous Collection!  Our lunch was great - Veal stew and bannock.  The keynote speakers were Wab Kinew of the Indigenous Advisory Circle and Jacqueline Romanow, Chair of Indigenous Studies, who gave welcoming addresses as well as informative presentations about the University of Winnipeg and their student body.  After lunch we walked to the Millennium Library to visit the Children’s resource area.  I really liked the animal prints on the floor, the ceiling panels of the sky and trees and the artwork done by children who were asked to express their visions of “community”!

Millennium Library

Detail of decor in Millennium Library

Children's Area in Millennium Library

Decor in Millennium Library

We returned to the University of Manitoba around 3 o’clock, and were asked to divide in two concurrent session groups with indigenous delegates in one and the other with the non-native delegates.  It was interesting to hear the indigenous point of view and closing remarks and to watch the delegates take part in the smudging and the passing around of the ‘grandfather stone’. 

The most important thing that stuck in my mind is hearing the Elders remind us how not to just think of ourselves as librarians but as knowledge and wisdom keepers and to view ourselves as the gate keepers of language and culture! What beautiful words spoken by a man of genuine wisdom!

That evening we had the gala dinner and closing ceremonies.  Delegates were presented with gifts for their presentations and a proposal for the 10th IILF was set to take place in New Zealand next year-I hope I can attend! 

An Ojibway woman led the delegates into a fun sing-along-in Cree, it was interesting that I understood the language!  The entertainment ended with lively fiddle dancing, throat singing, singing by local indigenous and non-native musicians.  

What a fun, great conclusion to a well-organized conference!

Sep 21, 2015

ACCI Collections Staff on the Road

ACCI Collections Staff on the Road!

Written by Sharon Vance - Registrar

On July 1st2015, intrepid collections team members Laura Phillips and Sharon Vance set out for the Cree community of Waskaganish armed with Sharpies and Olfa knives.   

The Mission:
As part of a larger collaboration and training partnership with the Waskaganish Cultural Department, which is in the first stages of constructing their own community based cultural centre, ACCI offered to help with some temporary storage for the Waskaganish object and archival holdings until their new building is complete. We can also help with storage advice and collections related training, if required. 

Because we were transporting objects back to Ouje-Bougoumou, driving to Waskaganish was the only option. We chose to drive via Matagami on the James Bay Highway. 
At times the road was hard-going, but after long hours and very bumpy mileage we finally arrived, and were greeted by Stacy Bear, Cultural Coordinator for the Waskaganish Cultural Department.

 The challenge:
The current storage shed!

Currently being used as temporary storage, the shed was packed full of cardboard boxes, plastic crates and larger objects which had been moved from their initial storage location in the basement of the Band Office after the offices of the Waskaganish Cultural Institute were moved .  Quick thinking staff moved the boxes to the shed at the Waskaganish band utility area after damp conditions and mould had been detected, but unfortunately the shed posed its own problems.  To prevent the boxes from being damaged from water, staff had secured the boxes with plastic wrap to create a waterproof barrier. While this is not a highly recommended tactic because the plastic wrap can cause different problems, it was ok as a temporary fix until we could move them.

After talking to the cultural staff and conducting an initial survey, we decided it was best to sort the boxes into three categories and label them accordingly.  We were able to identify:

·         Archaeological objects from various digs in the region
·         Objects taken from the John Blackned House
·         Archival documents

Sorting the boxes into these three categories made it easier for us to organize the contents. It also helped us speed up our processing time.   We were mostly concerned with identifying potentially fragile contents, so by sorting the boxes we knew which object boxes to focus on. 

Our sorting would also come in handy when it was time to load our vehicles! We wanted to take the most fragile objects back in Laura’s car, and the rest were going in the back of a covered pickup truck.

Accompanied by two amazing helpers, Bertie and Mary Small, who had also been part of the original packing of the boxes and even worked on the excavations where some of the finds were from, we set up two processing stations: archival/books and 3D objects.   The archival/books station was relatively straight forward. Since the boxes were externally labeled with terms like ‘books’, ‘photos’, ’files’, we were able to assign them a box number and recorded these unopened boxes in a basic box list style of inventory before stacking them on pallets until our second vehicle arrived for packing.  

Unfortunately the boxes containing the 3D objects were not labeled as clearly as the archives and books, so most of these were opened so we could record the general nature of the contents.   Bertie brought out what seemed like an endless stream of boxes to my table, we stripped them of the plastic wrap and tape and then had a quick look inside.  I took photos of the box contents. The contents were summarized on the inventory form along with any special conditions we noticed, like the presence of insect casings!  Then we sealed, numbered and labeled each box.  Some were labeled FRAGILE while those belonging to the John Blackned House were given a special designation JBH.

Some boxes, such as a box of decorated bear skulls, were extremely fragile.  We decided to carefully wrap and re-pack each skull for the bumpy journey back to ACCI.

By the end of the day we catalogued and moved 97 boxes, as well as loose items such as maps, radios, and an antique pump organ.  It was time for us to take a break while we waited for our second vehicle to arrive.

With some extra help from Cree Nation Government archaeologists David Denton and Francis Marcoux, we loaded as many boxes as possible into our two vehicles for the journey back to ACCI.  We made note of which box went into which vehicle, so we could give Stacy a receipt for what we had taken and so we had a list to cross check upon entry back at ACCI. We were feeling pretty good about the (now) almost empty shed, even if we had to leave a few things behind for a return visit. ]

After saying goodbye to Stacy and our wonderful helpers, we said goodbye to Waskaganish and hit the bumpy road once more for Ouje-Bougoumou and ACCI.   

 This is just the beginning of the journey for these objects, so stay tuned for their ongoing adventure at our facility in Ouje-Bougoumou!  Right now they are in quarantine; most of the boxes are being frozen as a precaution because of the presence of bugs.

Stacy and her team will be joining us at ACCI in the coming months where we will collaborate to help them fully inventory, clean and re-house all of their objects for their trip home to the new Waskaganish Cultural facility. This collection will have catalogue records added to the Waskaganish community collections pages on the new Eeyou Istchee Community Collections online database, a project funded by Heritage Canada. This website and database resource will be available to the public by the end of 2015!!

For the registrars and collections managers, this is a list of the equipment we brought:
·         Bubble wrap
·         Plastic sheeting
·         Packing tape
·         Sharpies and pens
·         Olfa knives
·         Pre-printed inventory sheets
·         Oversized ziplock bags
·         Face masks
·         Nitrile gloves (various sizes)
·         Camera (personal)

This is what we wish we had of also brought:

·         Double the amount of everything we brought
·         ziplock bags of all sizes
·         empty bankers boxes & lids
·         Clipboards (it was windy!)
·         Collections camera
·         Sunscreen! (it was sunny!)
·         Garden/ work gloves (the pallets were splintery!)
·         Bottles of water
·         Packed lunch

Things that we used that were already in Waskaganish:
·         Collapsible tables
·         Wooden pallets
·         People!

Sep 11, 2015

Farewell to our Summer Students!

It was a great summer here at Aanischaaukamikw, and we couldn't have done it without them!

We had two new additions this year - Abigail Mianscum joined the collections team, as did, Roxanne Bosum-Mianscum, in the Education & Interpretation department. Returning again for another year here at Aanischaaukamikw, was Tania Lariviere. These young women had a chance to be our ambassadors at the Cree Nation Government's AGA, and the Ouje-Bougoumou Powwow as well as working inside our beautiful cultural institute.

Have a great school year Abby, Roxanne & Tania!


Jul 2, 2015

ACCI Collection Officer, Paula Menarick @ Otsego!

ACCI Collection Officer, Paula Menarick @ Otsego!

 It was a privilege to attend the 2015 Otsego Institute for Native North American Art History summer seminars in Cooperstown, New York. We focused on connoisseurship of materials and the theorization of materiality. 

What is the Otsego Institute?     
“The Otsego Institute for Native American Art History was founded in 1996 to support and promote the highest standards in the field of Native American art history. Between 1997 and 2002, the Otsego Institute symposium, planned by the institute and sponsored by NYSHA, brought together Native and non-Native artists, museum professionals and scholars, to address theoretical issues in the study of Native American art.   In 2002, the format of Otsego Institute activities was modified from an academic conference to an advanced workshop for graduate students who examined Native American art history within a framework of formal lectures, hands-on workshops, and informal discussion of contemporary research and scholarly practices with co-participants and faculty.” http://www.otsegoinstitute.org/

The seminars consisted of readings, lectures, group discussions, hands on activities with objects from the Thaw Collection of American Indian Art. Each participant presented an object related to their current and prospective dissertations and curatorial projects. I chose to present a James Bay Cree Beaded Hood that related to the ACCI replication project, where I made a beaded cap and contemporary versions of a beaded hood using traditional techniques. 

Jun 9, 2015

International Archives Day 2015

June 9, 2015 is International Archives Day!

To celebrate ACCI has added a photo to the International Council of Archives International Archives Day 2015 web page.


Last year's 2014 submission was a photo from the Dr. Richard Preston fonds, and this year we are proud to use one of Dr. Harvey Feit's photos.

For more information about International Archives Day check out the ICA event page or check them out on Facebook.