Community Engagement focuses on three areas: repatriation of sacred objects, access to sacred material within the museum, and working collaboratively with Elders and knowledge keepers to develop protocol-guided care and management for these special objects.
RAM commits to building strong, respectful relationships with First Nations communities and honouring their connections to these ancestral belongings and sacred objects.
In 2000, Alberta passed the First Nations Sacred Ceremonial Object Repatriation Act(FNSCORA), which enables the repatriation of sacred objects from government collections to First Nations. Repatriation is enacted through a set of regulations, which outline the process of return in detail.
Presently, the Blackfoot First Nations Sacred Ceremonial Objects Repatriation Regulation, 2004, provides for repatriation to the nations of the Blackfoot confederacy in Alberta: Piikani Nation, Siksika Nation and Kainai First Nation. There are two deadlines for Blackfoot repatriation applications each year: February 15th and September 1st.
Download the Blackfoot repatriation application form.
We do not yet have a process for repatriating Cree, Nakota, and Saulteaux sacred objects in the museum’s collections. Museum staff have been engaging in conversations with First Nation representatives, Treaty Organizations, Elders and knowledge holders about what such a process might look like within their cultural context and how we might work together to return these belongings to their communities.
RAM is committed to facilitating access to sensitive sacred ceremonial belongings. Guided by the advice of knowledge-holders, ceremonialists and Elders, RAM, staff only minimally handle ancestral belongings. Private spaces and supplies are available on site for elders wishing to smudge.
Elders and knowledge-keepers have shared protocols on how to handle, care for, and provide access to some sacred materials. In certain circumstances, they have requested that visitors seeking to access these ancestral belongings provide additional information or be accompanied by an elder or ceremonialist while visiting these objects. The museum upholds these requests out of respect for the knowledge and protocols that have been shared with us. If you wish to find out more about the process for visiting RAM’s sacred ceremonial First Nations collections, please contact:
Assistant Curator, Indigenous Studies