Nlaka’pamux Ancestral Bone Tool Research

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

January 20th to 24th I spent in Ottawa in the collections of the Canadian Museum of History, I am thankful and grateful to the staff that assisted me in both the ethnology and Archaeology departments. And on January 13th of 2020, I had a Skype meeting with Aaron Deter-Wolf where he shared with me the work and research he has done around the creation of bone hand poke tools. I am very thankful Aaron took the time to spent an hour with me and the time to send me a step by step of his process. I can already tell that this grant is going have a huge impact on the revival of our embodied artistic traditions.

Aaron Deter-Wolf during our Skype meetings holding a piece of bone

I am just going to briefly share some of the photos I took while at the Canadian Museum of History. This trip had two intentions, the first was to be able to see some of the patterns and articles that carry those patterns in person, to be able to physical walk around them and see the movement across physical space. Which is allowing me to envision how our visual language can be fit to the human body. The second reason was to look at the beautifully crafted bone tools made by Nlaka’pamux but also other nations who used bone to make sewing needles. I was so impressed with the skill of the craft people who made some of the tools I was privileged to see.

Earthline Morning Star Cape

Many of the pieces I was able to look at from my nation are pieces I have admired for a long time and have been inspirational and have food their way onto Nlaka’pamux bodies. The piece that comes to mind instantly is this robe which I used as inspiration for a skin stitch tattoo on my sister.

Fine Nlaka’pamux Bone Tools

In the next couple of weeks I will share photos and the story of visiting Vancouver to check out the Museum of Anthropology at UBC Vancouver and then Victoria to visit the Royal BC Museum.

Stay tuned as I continue this journey.

I acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

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