Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day, which means that we want to take some time to reflect on what it means to conduct the research that we do, in the specific places where we live and work.
The WPHP is based at Simon Fraser University, which is located on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), q̓íc̓əy̓ (Katzie), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Qayqayt, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo and Tsawwassen nations. Members of our team are also located in the territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, and the Métis Nation, as well as that of the Tongva peoples.
As a project focused on print history, we also feel it is important to acknowledge the ways in which print, and the education system it is enmeshed in, have frequently served as tools of colonial violence against Indigenous peoples, especially in the context of residential schools. This is reflected in the title records of the WPHP, where we find numerous representations of Indigenous people, but no records (that we are aware of) definitively written or produced by Indigenous people. (This may change as we expand the scope of our database, and, as always, we welcome suggestions for titles that we should add.)
In the spirit of decentering print, and mindful of Daniel Heath Justice’s discussion of the harmful effects of conflating literature with writing, we would like to point you to some projects that either document or make available eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Indigenous writing.
The first is The Occam Circle, based at Dartmouth, which makes available manuscript material by and about Mohegan writer Samson Occom, including parts of his correspondence with the Wheatley family.
The Handwritten Newspapers Project provides information about The Muz-ze-ni-e-gun, or Literary Voyager, Henry Schoolcraft’s manuscript magazine that focused on issues related to the Ojibwe people. His wife, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft/Bamewawagezhikaquay and her brother were important contributors.
On the subject of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, you can listen to an oral performance of one of the traditional Ojibwe songs she translated here.
And, finally, another project based at SFU, The People and the Text, identifies and makes available Indigenous writing from northern North America up to 1992.