Accepted Paper:

It's just stuff: reflections on the material culture of the Apsáalooke (Crow)  


Nicholas Waller (University of Gothenburg)

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I wish to provide reflections and insight on the meanings of traditional cultural objects of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Indians of Montana, U.S.A., in relation to contexts as everyday objects, religious objects, and as historical museum objects. Through the years I have found that traditional cultural objects of the Apsáalooke take on a complexity of relations as trans-cultural and global identifiers of Apsáalooke identity. This complexity lies not only in objects of interpretation between cultural contexts (source community and museum display), but also in the identification of what is considered important about such objects. As the title of this paper implies, there is an understanding that the materiality is not so important, but rather the value lies in the process of an object's creation or the meaning involved in an object. Meaning and physicality are intertwined, but are also based on purpose and context. As biographies are subscribed to things as they have migrated from source community to museum display, the principle context is never eradicated and always remains whether the whole meaning of its creation is known or not. How then do the Apsáalooke as a source community interpret the migration of those biographies when they come full circle?

Panel W018
Material culture, migration and the transnational imaginary