Imaging Blackfoot Items in UK Museum Collections

Avebury archeological site visit. Back row: Kent Ayoungman (Siksika), Ian Dawson (University of Southampton), Jackson 2Bears (UofL), Jerry Potts (Piikani), Velma Crowshoe (Piikani), Carol Murray (Amskapipiikani), Melissa Shouting (Kainai), Danielle Heavy Head (Kainai), Justine Heavy Head (Kainai), Dr. Josephine Mills (UofL), Hannah Jones (family), Dr. Andy Jones (University of Southampton), Josh Jones (family), Dr Joshua Pollard (University of Southampton), John Murray (Amskapipiikani), Tanya Doody (family). Front: Deserae Yellowhorn (Piikani), Christine Clark (UofL), Louisa Minkin (Central St. Martins), and Tom Alison (Central St. Martins)

In July 2019, members of our research team travelled to England with Elders from the Blackfoot Confederacy and Blackfoot students. The goal of the trip was to visit items in three museum collections and select items to capture with photogrammetry and RTI. The digital captures will be hosted on the Blackfoot Digital Library and become available to people living on Blackfoot territory.

The travellers were Danielle Heavy Head, Jerry Potts, Velma Crow Shoe, Kent Ayoungman, Linda Little Chief, Jackson 2Bears, Justine Heavy Head, Deserae Yellow Horn, Melissa Shouting, John Murray, Carol Murray, Josephine Mills, and Christine Clark. The British team members include Louisa Minkin, Ian Dawson, Andy Jones, and Tom Allison.

Visiting items the work work at the MAA, July 1, 2019. From front: Velma Crow Shoe, Jerry Potts, Ali Clark, Carol Murray, Linda Little Chief, Rachel Hand, Kent Ayoungman, Anita Herle, and John Murray.

Our first stop was the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology in Cambridge. We were hosted by Dr. Anita Herle (Senior Curator), Rachel Hand (Collections Manager), Alison Clark (now at National Museums Scotland), and Dr. Jocelyne Dudding (Manager of Photograph Collection) for two days.

Dozens of items were pulled from the collection stores for the Elders to view and discuss. Of these, 10 artifacts were selected by the Elders to be imaged with photogrammetry and RTI, including a beaded awl case, moccasins, a quillwork bracelet, and a swan-foot bag.

Blackfoot Beaded Bag (detail) Cambridge Museum. July 1st, 2019.

Next, we visited The British Museum Stores in London over three days. We were hosted by Amber Lincoln, Curator of the Americas, and Cynthia McGowan, Collection Manager.

The British Museum’s collection of Blackfoot artifacts is extensive. Dozen’s items were pulled from the collection for the Elders to view, and 17 were imaged with photogrammetry and RTI, including a girl’s dress, several knife sheathes, beaded belts, and a story robe.

Photographing a robe. British Museum. July 2nd, 2019.
Louisa Minkin, left, Ian Dawson, right.
Looking at a War Shirt. British Museum. July 2nd, 2019.
(left to right) Danielle Heavy Head, Velma Crow Shoe, Carol Murray, Jerry Potts.
Example of Blackfoot Beading (detail). British Museum. July 3rd, 2019.

Our last museum visit was to the Horniman Museum and Gardens in London. We were hosted by Robert Storrie, Keeper of Anthropology, who assisted us in the workroom and gave us a tour of the museum. Of the 8 items viewed by the Elders, 4 were selected to be captured with photogrammetry and RTI, including a buffalo fetus bag, two headdress cases, and an inisskimm.

Jackson 2Bears with Tom Allison capturing a buffalo foetus bag at the Horniman Museum and Gardens.

Over 5 days, we saw over 100 items and captured over 30 with photogrammetry and RTI. We brought the digital files of the Blackfoot items back to Blackfoot territory to make them availabe for Blackfoot teaching and learning.

Preview the items we captured in our project overview document: