Digitizing the Ancestors Project

The AMMSA Archive is home to over 2,000 separate audio items and over 5,000 items tagged as film, photographs, event documentation, and other ephemera largely archived from the Alberta Native Communications Society (in operation  from the late 1960s until the early 1980s). These include recordings of traditional knowledge in spoken and sung expressions as well as conversations and interviews with community leaders, culture bearers and Elders. This project is designed to develop appropriate community protocols for assigning permissions to individual media following the OCAP guidelines, for ensuring high quality digital preservation and archiving, and to establish culturally-appropriate metadata of digital files to ensure the discoverability of content on community-approved platforms.

Recordings are in predominantly in Cree and English (other Indigenous languages appear less frequently) and require collaboration between the AMMSA community, the Sound Studies Institute, individuals from Music, Linguistics, Native Studies, UAlberta Libraries, the Arts Resource Centre, and many other faculty and student partners and assistants. The project is therefore led by an interdisciplinary co-facilitation team of researchers with the Sound Studies Institute at UAlberta, whose mandate is to preserve and make accessible cultural materials and to increase cross-cultural  understanding. The development of protocols, processes and practices for this project are the foundation for several digital archiving and retrieval projects in other communities, languages, and multimedia formats and, more specifically, multiple current projects within the AMMSA Archive.

Project Support:

Canadian Heritage Aboriginal Languages Initiative  
National Heritage Digitization Strategy, Library and Archives Canada   
Kule Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS) 
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)      
Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta 
Sound Studies Institute
Dean and Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta
and many other individual supporters and donors

Research Team:

Bert Crowfoot, Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
Mary I. Ingraham, Professor of Musicology
Benjamin V. Tucker, Professor, Department of Linguistics
Kamal Ranaweera, Team Lead, Arts Resource Centre (ARC)
Clare Peters, Multimedia and Electronics Technician, ARC
Thomas Welz, Research Computing Analyst, ARC
Sean Luyk, Digital Projects Librarian, University of Alberta Libraries  
Krista Jamieson, Digital Archivist, University of Alberta Libraries
Thomas Merklinger, metadata project file manager, SSI
Kayle Reddecliff, graduate research assistant, Library and Information Studies
Claudia Heinrich, graduate research assistant, Department of Linguistics
Carol Russ, Financial Director, AMMSA

Past research support:

Christian Isbister, graduate research assistant, Library and Information Studies
Emily Villanueva, graduate research assistant, Library and Information Studies
William Northlich, graduate research assistant, Department of Music
Ryan Podlubny, Research Assistant, SSI
Shama Rangwala, Research Assistant, SSI
Rebekka Puderbaugh, Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Linguistics
Courteney Durand, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Faculty of Native Studies
Rachel Lee, AMMSA
Eunice Memnook, AMMSA