URBAN SHAMAN GALLERY (Winnipeg, Manitoba)

Niibwa Ndanwendaagan (My Relatives)

February 03 – March 11, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, February 03 at 8pm-11pm
Marvin Francis Media Gallery, Urban Shaman Gallery

Niibwa Ndanwendaagan (My Relatives) presents a suite of contemporary Anishinaabe digital honouring bandolier bags or friendship bags, as these bags are traditionally gifted to strengthen friendship and family relations.

Each bandolier bag is richly embellished with electronic components (capacitors, resistors, light emitting diodes) and glass seed beads, replicating Great Lakes’ floral motifs and designs. Embedded into each bandolier bag is a digital tablet screening historical family photographs and archival silent film footage of Anishinaabe dance performances and re-enactments taken on Manitoulin Island, Ontario in 1925.

Marvin Francis Media Gallery:

Marvin Francis was a member of the Heart Lake First Nation in Northern Alberta. A poet, playwright, visual artist, actor and theatre director, he won the John Hirsh award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer in 2002 for “City Treaty”. His poetry appeared in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies and he also wrote for stage and radio. An emerging visual artist as well, his work was exhibited at Urban Shaman Gallery and Martha Street Printmaker’s Association in Winnipeg. He was pursuing his doctoral studies in English at the University of Manitoba when he passed away in January 2005. His second book “Bush Camp” was published posthumously in 2008.

About the historical film:

Indian Pow Wow
Ontario Motion Picture Bureau / Bureau du cinéma de l’Ontario
1925
silent film / film muet
14:30 min (looped) / 14 min 30 sec (en boucle)

Indian Pow Wow is a silent film from the collection of the Ontario Motion Picture Bureau and filmed in Wikwemkoong, Manitoulin Island (Ontario) in 1925. The film depicts visiting bureaucrats who are hosted by the entire Anishinaabe community. It documents welcoming speeches, dancing, singing and historical and cultural reenactments performed for the visiting delegation, community members and for the film company.

What is ironic about this film is that it was illegal for Indigenous people to dance in Canada in 1925. An amendment in 1914 to the Indian Act, the federal legislation pertaining to First Nations in Canada, outlawed dancing off-reserve and in 1925, dancing was outlawed entirely.

The film provides demonstrable evidence that dancing for the enjoyment and entertainment of visiting non-Indigenous dignitaries or bureaucrats was the exception.

Film sourced from the collection of Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa).

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