From Nunavut to Micronesia: Feedback and Description, Visual Repatriation and Online Photographs of Indigenous Peoples

  • David A. Smith University of Saskatchewan Library


Two pioneering web projects, Project Naming, created by Library and Archives Canada and the Inuit, and the Traditional Micronesian Navigation Collection at the University of Hawaii Library are examined. These sites make direct use of the internet to improve descriptions of their photographic holdings related to Indigenous peoples and to share these images with remote communities and the world. Through the creation of a system of “visual repatriation” and “feedback" and description, the people of Nunavut and the atoll of Satawal (in Micronesia) have the opportunity to view and identify photos of their ancestors, relatives and themselves online while at the same time sharing their knowledge with each host institution to improve descriptions of its holdings. The author concludes that, while challenges remain, these innovative approaches have helped foster meaningful relationships between, and rewards for, the participating host institutions and Indigenous peoples. In addition it is argued that the two projects bode well for: future collaborative efforts between libraries/archives and remote user-groups, understanding of our holdings, and the quality of our services to researchers.

Author Biography

David A. Smith, University of Saskatchewan Library
(Research Services, Librarian III) David A. Smith is the Indigenous Studies Librarian at the University of Saskatchewan. He is a contributing author to A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Historical Atlas and the forthcoming Hidden in Plain Site: Aboriginal Contributions to Canadian Identity and Culture, Vol. 2. He also recently authored an annotated bibliography of Internet resources for the American Indian Culture and Research Journal and an article on the novel The Virginian for South Dakota History.
Innovations in Practice