Dr. Talena Atfield named Canada Research Chair in Tentewatenikonhra'khánion (We Will Put Our Minds Together)

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The Department of History and the Faculty of Arts are very proud to share that the Government of Canada has announced that Dr. Talena Atfield is named Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Tentewatenikonhra'khánion (We Will Put Our Minds Together). Dr. Atfield is of Kanien'kehá:ka of the Grand River and mixed settler backgrounds and is an assistant professor in the Department of History.

Congratulations, Dr. Atfield!

Tentewatenikonhra'khánion (We Will Put Our Minds Together)

Dr. Talena Atfield

“The goal of this CRC program is to contextualize life at Ohswé:ken (Six Nations) during the first quarter of the 20th century for the purpose of regenerating cultural practices using information collected by F.W. Waugh between 1900 and 1924. This goal will be met through analysis and interpretation of archival, linguistic, photographic, and material culture, through community-led interviews and talking circles.

“During the first quarter of the twentieth century, the traditional hereditary system was the primary form of governance in Ohswé:ken and associated traditions and practices were alive and well. Salvage collecting, the rapid and aggressive extraction of Indigenous cultures, peaked during this time. Researchers were sent to acquire as much information about Indigenous cultures as possible before practices vanished along with Indigenous Peoples. This resulted in the extraction of vital information and materials from communities and contributed to the fracturing and loss of traditional practices. While many traditional practices remain intact at Ohswé:ken, others have been lost or modified over time.

“This CRC will promote the regeneration of fractured or lost practices by bringing material and archival collections back into community circulation for a contemporary audience. The regeneration of cultural knowledge is proven to promote and increase well-being in Indigenous communities. This is particularly true in communities that are living with historical unresolved grief resulting from colonial interference. While Ohswé:ken maintains strong connections to past practices, the continuous extraction and subsequent publication of misinformation has contributed to a communal sense of historical unresolved grief.

“This CRC will encourage multi-disciplinary (community-led, history, anthropology, museum studies, and language studies) engagements with extracted Hodinohso:ni cultural histories and knowledges and contributeto the regeneration of important cultural practices within the community. This project aims to Indigenize collections by prioritizing community narratives that bring the past into dialogue with the present and the future. Most importantly, this CRC will facilitate the interpretation, development, and sharing of information using Hodinohso:ni knowledge systems in ways that respect and honour Hodinohso:ni traditions and protocols, whiledecentering colonial authoritative narratives.”

Read more from Dr. Atfield on reclaiming Indigenous histories.