Talena Atfield

Assistant Professor


Talena Atfield is an Assistant Professor in History at the University of Waterloo. She is of Kanien'kehá:ka of the Grand River and mixed settler backgrounds and grew up urban. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Studies. She is also an associate professor (Yehyatonhserayente:ri) with Six Nations Polytechnic.

Dr. Atfield’s research is grounded in community-based knowledge sharing and creation. She works with tangible and intangible Indigenous knowledges held in museums, galleries, and community centres, with a special focus on Hodinohso:ni material culture. Employing coming faces, or seven generations teachings to the study of Indigenous cultures held in collections, Dr. Atfield critically examines the information shared with past researchers and works with community members, scholars, and knowledge keepers to find ways to reintegrate and reinvigorate this information into community practice. Dr. Atfield’s past research has applied a Teioháte kaswenta (Two Row Wampum) – Covenant Chain methodological approach to the study of Hodinohso:ni ash baskets, by critically examining the core focus of information shared by basket weavers and community knowledge holders when combined with information published by academics about ash baskets. Dr. Atfield’s Canada Research Chair aims to increase access to Hodinosho:ni intellectual and cultural property held in museums and archives through community-based learning initiatives and language regeneration efforts. 

Dr. Atfield is working with the Ga̱̱hsrǫ:nih team which is focused on the translation and reintegration of stories found in archival collections, as well as with Protect the Tract to help organize translation and cultural workshops including hide-tanning, basket-making, traditional cooking, beadwork, fishing, and other land-based learning skills. She was part of a group of bead workers who beaded the Haldimand Tract for the exhibition Arenhátyen tsi ní:tsi teyottenyonhátye kwató:ken tsi nī:tsi yonkwanikonhrayén:ta’s: We Remain Certain which opened in January 2024 at the McMaster Art Gallery and has had her beadwork exhibited it the 48 Annual Juried Art Exhibition at the Woodland Cultural Centre.


  • PhD Anthropology, University of Toronto
  • MSc. Anthropology, University of Toronto
  • BA (Honours), Western University

Research, Teaching, and Supervision Interests

  • Hodinohso:ni history and culture
  • Indigenous tangible and intangible cultures in Museums and Archives
  • Beadwork, tufting, quillwork, leatherwork, regalia-making
  • Teioháte kaswenta (Two Row Wampum) – Covenant Chain methodology
  • Culture and language regeneration
  • Community-based research

Courses Taught:

  • HIST421/2 History of Collecting Indigenous Cultures in North America
  • HIST269 Indigenous Histories in Canada
  • HIST191 Indigenous Foundations
  • Hodinohso:ni History (forthcoming)
  • Matriarchs, Warriors, and Aunties: Indigenous Women in Canadian History (forthcoming)
  • We Are All Treaty People (forthcoming)
  • Knowing Through Creating (forthcoming)

Recent Collaborations and Presentations

Atfield, T (2023). [Review of the book Odagahodhes: Reflecting on our Journeys, by Gae Ho Hwako Norma Jacobs, The Circles of Odagahodhes]. The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 41(2).

Doctor, J;. Atfield, T (2023, September). Indigenous Research Data Management. Paper presented at the University of Waterloo Research Data Management Community Workshop. Waterloo, ON. 2023

Atfield, T (2023, May). Considering Community Impact in Repatriation Negotiations. Paper presented at the Annual Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. Toronto, ON.

Monture, R; Gibson, T.; Atfield, T. (2022, May). Accessing the Archives, 1924 Through Photos and Documents: A Community Conversation. Paper presented at the Woodland Cultural Centre as part of the Community Conversations Series. Brantford, ON. Virtual 2022.

Atfield, T (2022, April). Translating Ga̱ hsrǫ:nih (To make something): The Frederick W. Waugh ̱ Hodinohso:ni Collection. Paper presented at The Penn Language Symposium Collaborations for Change: Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Language Learning. Philadelphia 2022.

Indigenous Speaker Series University of Waterloo. (2022-06-20).

Q and A with the experts: Reclaiming Indigenous histories [Press release]. University of Waterloo. (2022-06-20).

Q and A with the experts: The role of Indigenous women in the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge [Press release]. University of Waterloo. (2022-08-09)