So the past few weeks have been quite crazy with COVID-19 being the main topic in the news and in many conversations. Sadly, this virus and pandemic has altered the lives of people across the country, myself included. Due to the pandemic and the requirement for people to stay at home and practice social distancing, my ECCU 400 class is unable to go on our Treaty Walk that was supposed to occur on March 30th. I was disappointed to be informed that the class would be unable to participate in the Treaty Walk, but I was happy to see all of my classmates’ scripts online.
Seeing as my class is unable to participate in the Treaty Walk in person, I decided to take a peek at some of the scripts that my classmates created for their locations. As a person that has grown up in Regina my whole life, I knew many of the locations that my classmates had chosen to take us to on the Treaty Walk. One of the locations that my classmates chose to visit was the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. I have been to the museum countless times throughout my childhood and in recent years with children that I work with.
When I first think about the museum, I think about the robotic dinosaur, Megamunch, or the giant sea dinosaur display that terrified me as a child. Thinking about the exhibits at the museum, I initially think about the life science or dinosaur galleries. I do not initially think about the First Nations exhibits that are at the museum, despite these exhibits being on display for as long as I can remember.
The First Nations Gallery is one of the three main galleries at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. In this gallery, there are five main exhibits: We are all Treaty People, The Tipi, Community, Yearly Circle, and Trades, Treaties and Today. Each of these five exhibits have visuals and information about Indigenous People in Saskatchewan.
Typically, when I visit the museum I do not read the information that is associated with the visual pieces. I love to simply look at the exhibits and I try to notice all of the small details that the artist has included in the diorama. I often do not take the time to read through the associated information that is included in the exhibit. At the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, I know that I typically have skimmed through the First Nations Gallery as a whole and I do not read through all of the information that is included in the exhibits.
Through reading through my classmate’s script and reading through the information on the Royal Saskatchewan Museum website, I have learnt a lot about the history of the Indigenous People of Saskatchewan. One of the most surprising things that I learnt is that there is a written document that is the only known written record of Treaty promises from the viewpoint of the Indigenous People. This document is not written in words, but instead the information is communicated through pictographs. This document is extremely important because it is the only known written document that shows what the perspective of the Indigenous People in Canada during treaty negotiations.
Another exhibit that really caught my eye was the Yearly Circle exhibit. This exhibit showed the different hunting patterns of the Indigenous People that lived in Saskatchewan. Typically, when many people think about the Indigenous People of Saskatchewan, they only think of Buffalo hunters. However, the Indigenous People of Saskatchewan hunted buffalo in the summer, the caribou in the in the fall, moose in the winter, and buffalo or fish in the spring. Up until I read this information on the Royal Saskatchewan Museum’s website, I did not realize that the Indigenous People in Saskatchewan had such a range of hunting abilities or that they cycled through what they hunted depending on the season.
Overall, learning more about the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, specifically the First Nations Gallery, has taught me a lot more about the history of the Indigenous People living in Saskatchewan. Now, I know that there is much more information on the history of the Indigenous People in Saskatchewan in the museum along with many more beautiful exhibits, but due to the museum being closed, I am limited to the pictures that are available online. This opportunity to learn more about the Indigenous People in Saskatchewan has taught me that I need to pay more attention to the information that is associated with the visuals at the museum because it is credible and valuable information. This opportunity has also taught me that there is so much more to the history of the Indigenous People in Saskatchewan than what I already know.
As a white settler, I would like to continue to learn more about the history of the Indigenous People that live in Saskatchewan. I would like to continue to learn more about the Treaties and the perspective of the Indigenous People during treaty negotiations. As a white settler and a future educator, it is my duty to continue to learn more about the history of the Indigenous People of Saskatchewan and to encourage my students to not simply skim through or skip over the information about Indigenous People. To encourage my students to do this, I must lead by example and I must start to pay more attention to the information about Indigenous People of Saskatchewan and Canada as a whole. Even though it might initially look like the information is something that I already know, there likely will be some new information that will be included.
As a future educator, I will continue to learn more about Treaties and the history of Indigenous People and the injustices they still face. Some of the ways that I can do this is by visiting local museums or art galleries that showcase Indigenous history, information, or artwork. My learning is not finished, but instead just beginning. There is much more to the history of Indigenous People in Canada and treaty negotiations than the colonial story that is often broadcasted. It is my duty to learn more and delve deeper into the story.
Thanks for reading my blog post!