We are a group of Blackfoot-led indigenous and non-indigenous researchers, artists, students, and Elders working to connect historical Blackfoot objects held in collections in Britain with the Niitsitapi. This project leverages digital imaging techniques, art-based public engagement, and spatial web technologies to improve the ability of Blackfoot people to interact with their historical objects and recover and shape their own narratives surrounding them.

Elders from Kainai, Piikani, Siksika, and Amskapipiikani are directing the project. The digital imagery belongs to the Blackfoot people and will be accessed online through the Blackfoot Digital Library. We are only making public images of non-sacred objects.

The project aims to: create and disseminate highly detailed digital models of historical Blackfoot objects in British museum collections; provide access to the knowledge and skills embedded in those objects through virtual interfaces and live events; explore issues around access, tangibility, materiality, and value as they relate to physical objects and virtual experiences of those objects; advance efforts to decolonize online spaces and virtual worlds and promote knowledge sharing in both analytical and creative technologies; build connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and perspectives; and to support call to action #67 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by creating best practices for art galleries and museums.

This project will be the first of its kind to use digital imaging techniques and spatial web technologies to provide immediate virtual access to interactive representations of historical objects from a Blackfoot perspective.

To learn more and see a preview of the models created in England, download the Project Overview document:

Velma Potts, Josephine Mills, Jerry Potts, Carol Murray, and Melissa Shouting walk towards the Museum of Anthropology and Archeology in Cambridge, UK.

Phase One

In July 2019, researchers, students, and Elders from the Blackfoot Confederacy travelled to London, England to image objects in British museums with our British collaborators. The British team members have developed sophisticated techniques to produce images of objects with incredible detail.

Phase Two

In the second phase, we will be producing web-based prototypes featuring the digital models of the objects, using spatial web technologies to reunite the objects with their associated knowledge and culture.

Phase Three

Photo by Austin Knibb

Finally, the objects will be disseminated on the Blackfoot Digital Library, through localized wireless networks in areas without Internet access, and through exhibitions and public programming to engage people with the knowledge held by the objects and digital tools and techniques for re-narrating them.

Blackfoot Elder Advisory Group:

Elders from Kainai, Piikani, Siksika, and Amskapipiikani are directing the project:

  • Jerry Potts
  • Velma Crowshoe
  • Kent Ayoungman
  • Linda Little Chief
  • John Murray
  • Carol Murray
  • Martin Heavy Head
  • Dr. Leroy Little Bear
  • Amethyst First Rider

Thank you to the Elders that have also provided direction:

  • Francis First-Charger
  • Shirlee Harriet Crow Shoe
  • Alvin Cross Child
  • Delia Cross Child
  • Alvine Mountain Horse
  • Pamela Heavy Head
  • Dustin Wolfe
  • Deborah Magee

U of L Research Team:

  • Christine Clark, Assistant Professor of New Media
  • Josephine Mills, director and curator of the U of L Art Gallery
  • Danielle Heavy Head, Blackfoot Digital Library liaison
  • Jackson 2Bears, a U of L art studio professor
  • Marcus Dostie, a U of L geography instructor
  • Andrea Fox, Educator and Research Assistant
  • Kirsten Meiszinger, Project Coordinator
  • Melissa Shouting, Artist and Research Assistant

UK Research Team

  • Louisa Minkin, Course Leader for MA Fine Art at Central Saint Martins
  • Ian Dawson, Co-Director of the Critical Practices Research Group at Winchester School of Art University of Southampton.
  • Andy Jones, Professor of Archaeology, University of Southampton
  • Tom Allison, Artist and technical assistant at Central Saint Martins