Pitt Rivers Museum Historic Blackfoot shirts to visit Canada, June 2009

Our grandfathers have come to visit:
Kaahsinooniksi Aotoksisaawooya

Reconnections with historic Blackfoot shirts

Five spectacular Blackfoot men’s shirts, some decorated with porcupine quillwork, hair, and painted designs, are the focus of a new research project that brings together British and Canadian museums and universities with Blackfoot people in Canada and the United States.

blackfoot shirt
Blackfoot shirt with porcupine quill decoration and painted
images of war deeds. PRM 1893.67.1. This is one of the
Blackfoot shirts that will be used in the handling workshops
and exhibitions for the project.
Dr. Laura Peers, Curator of the Americas Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum and Reader in Material Anthropology at the University of Oxford and Dr. Alison Brown from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen have been awarded funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (£183,401) to work with Blackfoot elders, artists and youth from southern Alberta and northern Montana to explore these important historic garments. The project will commence in August 2009 and run over two years.

The shirts were collected in 1841 by Sir George Simpson, the Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and have been in the collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum since 1893.

The project will involve the public exhibition of the shirts in 2010 at two Canadian museums that are located in traditional Blackfoot territory: the Glenbow Museum in Calgary and the Galt Museum in Lethbridge, Alberta. There will also be handling sessions for Blackfoot people to examine the shirts closely and learn about the manufacturing techniques and their spiritual meanings.

In addition, the Pitt Rivers Museum will host a conference for project participants and museum professionals to discuss how to provide culturally appropriate care for Blackfoot materials in museum collections.

Go to the Reconnections with historic Blackfoot shirts site.

Download the press release