Canada’s award-winning Indigenous museum, cultural institution, and showcase of the history of the James Bay Crees.
From archaeology to language study, from anthropology to the study of both oral and written literature, Aanischaaukamikw conducts independent research and collaborates with museums and academic institutions in Canada and abroad.
Developing new approaches to teaching Cree language includes developing tools like new dictionaries. These dictionaries describe the language and its varieties, capture oral nuances from speakers of different regions, study in terminology, and capture place names and their evolution over time
Gathering of objects made by the Crees both present and past and documenting their distinctive features; doing comparative research with other collections in other institutions.
This work will be enhanced and stimulated by the Donation and Loan program with community members throughout the region, and also through the participation of crafts persons and artisans.
Through our program of museum loans, our research team will examine the specific techniques and materials used to create objects. This process will include research staff and craft experts from the communities, as rare and precious objects are recorded and, in some cases, reproduced.
Learn more about the Cree Beaded Hood which has come home to Eeyou Istchee.
A 170-year-old intricately adorned woman’s ceremonial hood has been officially repatriated to the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee by the City of Montreal’s Lachine Museum.
Made of wool and cotton, and intricately designed with hundreds of glass beads, the hood was created around 1850 for Jane Gunner, the wife of the chief of Mistissini. In traditional James Bay Cree culture, women wore ceremonial hoods for special occasions like weddings or the return of band members from a hunt. The hood had been part of the Lachine Museum’s collection since 1948.
“The return of the Gunner hood to Eeyou Istchee is important because it has enormous cultural, heritage, and spiritual value. Now the hood can be studied and shared widely by the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, helping to increase our knowledge of the traditional ways of our people,” said Abel Bosum, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee). “We thank the City of Montreal for this highly significant gesture, as it heralds a new willingness of southern institutions and communities to work with First Nations communities in the return of artefacts that have great cultural importance.”
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante stressed the significance of the repatriation: “Today’s signature and the return of the traditional hood are strong actions that reflect the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as the City of Montreal’s Strategy for Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We are proud to take another step in strengthening our relationship with the Cree nation.”
Located in Oujé-Bougoumou, the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute is recognized as one of Canada’s leading aboriginal cultural institutions. The beaded hood will cared for by the ACCI’s collections staff, and will be used as an important element of educational programming relating to Cree traditions and customs.
For more than 40 years, we have carried out collaborative archaeological projects in all of the Cree communities. In 2019, responsibility for archaeology transferred from the Cree Nation Government to Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute.
Most of the projects have used traditional Cree knowledge as a starting point for research. Cree Elders and land users have pointed out many sites for investigation. Their knowledge has been critical in understanding how and why these sites were used and in exploring broader patterns of history and land use.
ACCI has a well-equipped lab, where opportunities for collaboration with specialists in museology, conservation, education, etc., take place. In this context the archaeological collections coming from Eeyou Istchee (last 20 years) are stored and conserved in the ACCI lab for greater accessibility to Cree people.
Today, our work comprises work in:
The history of archaeology in Eeyou Istchee can be told by highlighting the contributions of Eeyou and Eenou Elders who have been associated with different projects.
Here are a few examples: