When the Fort Simpson Historical Society’s building flooded, organizers turned to Plan B for the community’s Treaty 11 events.
The Fort Simpson Historical Society and Gwich’in Tribal Council were set to open a 1,500 square foot art-and-artifact exhibition – the River Journeys project – to mark the 100-year anniversary of the signing of Treaty 11.
When the building flooded in late May, the exhibition planned for early July was instead delayed until the fall.
In the interim, the project’s committee wanted to show the public what they were working on. The River Journeys website was revamped and, as a preview, short videos from the fall exhibit are now being released monthly.
“The actual exhibit will go into detail and you’ll actually see and hear the audio, the full length of the story,” said Martina Norwegian, vice president of the Fort Simpson Historical Society.
The website will include videos and audio dating back to the 1970s, highlighting stories from Elders who remembered the time of the Treaty signing.
“They’re all unique in their own way,” said Sharon Snowshoe, the River Journeys project lead. “It talks about culture, the history of treaties. It’s kind-of like a history lesson.”
The first preview video, released on July 13, features Chief Gerry Antoine of the Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation discussing traditional dene drumming and its cultural and social importance.
Monthly videos will appear on the project’s website until the end of the year, even after the exhibition is open.
“We want to document these things so that it might be used in the school or at least it will be recorded and could be used in the future,” Snowshoe said.
The River Journeys project was made possible by funding from the Arctic Inspiration Prize in 2020.
McKenna Hadley-Burke contributed reporting.