Collaborating in History: Anthropologists, Archaeologists and the Cree First Nation, Québec, Canada
(University of Aberdeen)
Paper short abstract:
The Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Program (ACHP) generated hours of taped interviews. Various elements interacted in the interview process to influence the content of the accounts. The various lessons learned from my collaboration with the Cree will be discussed.
Paper long abstract:
From 2006 to 2009, the Cree Regional Authority - the administrative body of the James Bay Cree Territory - conducted large scale archaeological and heritage works on the land that the Hydro-Québec has now flooded for the Rupert River Diversion. This unique Cree project was called the Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Program (ACHP). Over one hundred sites documenting the Cree occupation of this land were visited and recorded. Hours of taped and filmed interviews with Cree elders and land-users were also collected. The interviewing process involved the interaction of various individuals, artefacts, places and other contextual elements which strongly influenced the content of the accounts. Archaeologists, anthropologists and Cree interviewers collaborated with Cree informants by gradually adapting their interviewing strategies as everyone learned from these interactions. This collaborative process resulted in the creation of a rich historical past centered on places that were about to disappear. The entire landscape under study at the time of the ACHP is now underwater, but interviews connecting people to places are still necessary and crucial for my PhD research. The lessons learned during the ACHP can now help me developing interviewing strategies better adapted to this new context. The lessons learned from the collaboration with the Cree may also help in designing original strategies for oral history interviews with Canada's other First Nations.
Interviews as situated practices: places, contexts, and experiences