Biographies of Objects

Among the many holdings of The Hunterian collections can be found items such as a pair of mittens from the Huron-Wendat from the Great Lakes region in North America and a parka from the Inuit from Baffin Island, Canada. The online catalogue provides us with information regarding the objects’ materials and their possible geographical origins. However, it does not provide us with any information of their makers or who brought them to The Hunterian. The catalogue leaves the following questions unanswered: Who made the objects and why? How did they come the long way from North America to Scotland? Who brought these objects to Scotland and why?

This project will explore the histories of Indigenous objects from North America and the changing stories and narratives of objects from the past to the present. Many objects came to Scotland in the nineteenth century. I will analyse the British perceptions of North American Indigenous peoples during the nineteenth century. This project will further examine how museums deal with the colonial past and acquirement of Indigenous objects. In addition, it will demonstrate how contemporary museum practices are changing and begin to include Indigenous viewpoints and de-centring Eurocentric views.


Follow the project on Twitter: @HAP_ObjectBios

Alexandra Abletshauser, Doctoral Candidate in Canadian Literature.
Alexandra is working on Canadian prose writing from 1880 to 1914. She explores how English-Canadian and French-Canadian women writers used to emotions to engage in contemporary discussions on social and political issues.


Parka - GLAHM:E.1984.5/1, parka, Inuit
Mittens - GLAHM:E.105, mitten, Huron-Wendat

Browse the Collections

Collage of 4 objects: Inuit Kayak Model; Tlingit comb; Diné rug; Wendat Moccasins

Use the links below to browse The Hunterian's online collections for items relating to Native Americans and Canadian First Nations


Past Events - Creative Conversations with Indigenous Canada

Dr Renae Watchman: “Hane’, Kéyah, K’é: Stories, Land, Kinship, and Languages in Indigenous Literary Arts”:

If you missed our event with Dr Renae Watchman at the Andrew Hook Centre, you will enjoy reading this blogpost, summarising the event.

Creative Conversations with Indigenous Canada

From December 2020 to June 2021, we ran the event series Creative Conversations with Indigenous Canada. We were honoured to virtually welcome three award-winning writers from Canada: Eden Robinson, David A. Robertson, and Jesse Thistle. To learn more about the authors and their works, follow the links below. 

Eden Robinson: About the Author 

David A. Robertson: About the Author and "Kiwew", a 5 part Podcast   

Jesse Thistle: About “From the Ashses