Indian Life Newspaper -

Student curates new museum exhibit

 

Last updated 12/8/2020 at 11:02am

Northern Life Museum

Isaiah Wiltzen is a 19-year-old history student from Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

FORT SMITH, N.W.T-While many people have learned to do quite a variety of things from home during the 2020 pandemic, Isaiah Wiltzen, a 19-year-old history student from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, has perhaps had one of the most creative pandemic achievements. Wiltzen has created a museum exhibit.

In non-pandemic times, the young man was studying history in Edmonton at the King's University. But during the pandemic, he's been at his home in Fort Smith, where he has worked his own museum exhibit in between his online classes for the past four months.

"I kind of wanted to further my knowledge of Indigenous groups, and share the knowledge that I've learned from this experience," he told CBC News reporter Anna Desmarais.

The Northern Life Museum and Culture Centre in Fort Smith, N.W.T. is not new to Wiltzen. He was a tour guide there this summer. Part of the museum normally used for temporary collections was empty, so Wilzen made several suggestions on exhibits.

The museum officials gave the go ahead for his proposed exhibit, The Land Provides, which shares stories and artifacts from three major northern Indigenous groups: the Inuvialuit, the Dene and Métis. So while he's been schooling at home, he's also spent his time exploring the museum's archives.

"One of the first things I did was start reading some of the files and archival material that we have at the museum and building up my knowledge of the Indigenous relationships with the land," Wiltzen told Cabin Radio reporter, Sarah Pruys. "And then finding photographs and artifacts that would relate to the sort of knowledge that I've learned, and then finding ways to share those artifacts and stories about Indigenous people and their land."

The empty room now houses photos of the three Indigenous groups, along with clothing and artifacts specific to each nation. Walking through the exhibit, guests can get an idea of what life was like for these First Nations people.

And the project has given this 19-year-old history buff an idea of what a career as a curator might hold-besides gaining him credit in his History 300 class. The exhibit will be open to the public through mid January, 2021.

 
 

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