Virtual Roundtable Series Indigenizing the Museum: Language, Vernacular, and Lexicon June 17th, 2020


“Connecting to communities, is connecting to stories” 

(Dr. Gerald McMaster)


On June 17th, 2020, Wapatah: Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge hosted its first Virtual Roundtable as part of the Virtual Platform for Indigenous Art (VPIA) project and its latest Indigenizing the Museum event series. 


Moderated by Gerald McMaster, this Roundtable brought together Bonnie Devine, Peter Jemison, Arni Brownstone, and Stephen Inglis with the aim of addressing questions around language, lexicon, ownership, repatriation, land, and research as ceremony. The roundtable discussion focused and expanded upon the shift in language used to talk about Indigenous artworks.


The VPIA is a custom digital platform currently in development by Wapatah at OCAD University, designed to facilitate Indigenous access and contributions to Indigenous artworks in museum and gallery collections around the world. Using a wiki-style approach, the VPIA allows institutional artwork records to be transformed into living documents that integrate Indigenous knowledge, language, and protocols. 


The Roundtable Series, Indigenizing the Museum, has been developed as a way to increase Indigenous community and institutional awareness of and involvement in the VPIA as a resource and a knowledge building tool. 


Our Guest Panelists

Bonnie Devine is the Founding Chair of OCAD University’s Indigenous Visual Culture Program, and in that role has developed curriculum, taught classes, built ancillary programming, and developed student services to support OCAD’s growing population of Aboriginal students and provide a critical Indigenous perspective within the art and design academy. She is an installation artist, curator, writer, and educator, and a member of the Serpent River First Nation of Northern Ontario (Anishinaabe/Ojibwa).


Peter Jemison of the Seneca, Huron Clan, is an accomplished artist and curator, his art rooted in the framework of Native art. He currently serves as the Historic Site Manager of Ganondagan State Historic Site which is the location of a 17-th century Seneca town in Victor, NY that has been identified as a National History Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He is the representative of the Seneca Nation of Indians on the Native Americans Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and an Indian Tribe/Native Indian representative of the Federal Advisory Council of Repatriation. (ACHP).


Arni Brownstone is the assistant curator of Plains Culture and the curator responsible for the ethnographic collections from the Americas at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Ontario. His scholarly focus is on the visual culture of the northern Plains with a special interest in Plains pictographic painting. 


Stephen Inglis served as Executive Director of the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute from 2010 until 2015 and previously worked as a researcher, curator and then Director-General of Research and Collections at the Canadian Museum of Civilization and has taught both anthropology and art history at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.  He continues to work on his research, publication and teaching, lecturing at universities and participating and organizing conferences internationally.


Wapatah Team 

Dr. Gerald McMaster

Dr. Michael Rattray

Natalja Chestopalova

Brittany Bergin

Mariah Meawasige

Rezvan Boostani

Yiyi Shao

Maya Filipp

Panya Espinal Clark

Alessia Pignotti

Jananda Lima



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