Boozhoo! Anag Oniimiiwin Nnidishinikaz! Mukwa Dodem!
I introduce myself to you in Anishinabemowin. I am an Anishinabekwe (Ojibwe) from northwestern Ontario and a band member Lac Des Milles Lacs First Nation. Every day I embrace many roles and the responsibilities that go along with them. I am a mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, artist, community member, professor, and researcher. I am interested in visual anthropology, photography and decolonization, Indigenous art, visual ethnography, creative indigenous methodologies, and life stories. When I am not teaching, I enjoy hitting up the powwow trail with my husband and kids, sewing, beading, taking pictures, fishing and just hanging out with my huge family!
In my work, research and everyday life, I am passionate about demonstrating how art is such an integral way of knowing and experiencing the world and living a good life.
I find it hard to identify as either a (visual) anthropologist or an artist. I may always find myself dancing somewhat awkwardly with anthropology and art, ultimately because of the complex colonial relationship these two subjects have with Indigenous Peoples. As an Anishinabekwe, I struggle with situating myself within a discipline that bears great scars from the blade of colonialism, and I struggle with calling what I do "art" given art's Eurocentric institutional baggage. Perhaps this discomfort signals the need to develop our own ways of identifying what we do and why we do it...
My mother once said something to me during a conversation that has stuck with me ever since. She reminded me that Anishinabekwe are ‘makers’...they have and continue to make food, regalia, , etc. for people they love and care about. I like to think of myself as a ‘mark maker'. Using various technologies, I make marks that are meaningful and useful to me with the intent that they will become meaningful and useful to others. These marks take shape sometimes through beads and string, and at other times, through a camera and a memory card. I also consider my academic writing and the performance of my research as simply "marks".
And so, I will continue this life of making and leaving marks wherever I go, ultimately, because the more I make, the more I understand myself in relation to others... and others in relation to me.