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I am a settler person. I was born in Lethbridge, and lived in Treaty 7 Territory for most of my life. I use they/them pronouns. 

Âba Wathtech, my name is

Amanda Foote

I want to tell you about who I am and why I am doing this research...

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I have always been interested in museums and history and heritage. When I was small, my parents took me camping every summer, we went all around Alberta. My favorite part was learning about the history of this place and watching the Parks staff in performances at the amphitheaters. I have been very blessed, and privileged, growing up I never had to be hungry and I always had a safe home.

I went to Mount Royal College in the Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership program. I picked it because I thought it could help me work with heritage and culture, and because "ecotourism" is about being good for people and the environment. While I was at school I did an internship with the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary. While there I worked with Adrian Wolfleg, Carol Mason, David Turner and Belva Wesley. I worked on youth projects and tourism projects. I also did volunteering with tourism projects for people with disabilities. After I graduated I stayed with the Friendship Centre for 3 years, but I left for graduate school.

I went to the University of Alaska in an Interdisciplinary track in Northern Studies. This let me choose my area of focus, and I choose tourism. I met an archivist from Whitehorse who knew of a community that was interested in learning more about tourism. She introduced me to that community, and I did my research with them. While in Alaska I studied under the late Oscar Kawagley, and Bill Schneider who is an oral historian.

When I came home to Calgary I started volunteering at Morley with a friend I met at Mount Royal. I helped out with the after school program. A job came up working for Stoney Education, and some of the staff recommended that I apply. I got that job, and I worked for SEA for 6 years. While I was there it was my job to try and improve student attendance. I learned that a lot of Indigenous researchers studied how to improve schools on reserve, and their data said that reserve schools should involve their community. This is what I tried to do at SEA.

I really loved working with the families, and meeting all the Îethka kids while I worked for the school board. But it was hard because it wasn't the job I set out to do. Working for SEA also helped me remember what I learned when I was young, how important culture and history is. I decided to go back to graduate school so I could keep trying to work with museums and history.

New York University was the closest school that offered Museum Studies, so that's where I went. I got my second MA from there, and came back to SEA where I was told that I would help the school set up a cultural centre for Elders and students. But the administration changed, and they didn't want to do that any more. I was laid off, so I went to work in a museum instead. I stayed close to Morley though, because my partner, Jarret Twoyoungmen lived there, and eventually I moved in with him.

I got a job at Glenbow museum, but I also worked for Lougheed House and the Beiseker Station Museum. I really love working in museums, but I also see how they could be better. Working closely with artifacts teaches me how important they are. I knew from my time in Morley that some people wanted artifacts returned to the community. I also know that Blackfoot people have asked for some things returned and they got them, Blackfoot people also asked to have a role in care for their artifacts in museum spaces, and to help curate their own exhibits. I wondered if Îethka people wanted those things too. Conversations about this started me on my journey to undertake this research. Jarret and I spend time in Morley and Calgary now, while he makes films and I go to school and work at  museums.

In October 2020 Jarret and I had a son, in June 2023 we welcomed a daughter. We're honored to be raising young Îethkabi together.

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My Museum Theory

I believe that museums are important because outside of a school, they are one of the only public places that everyone is welcome to learn.

I love how it feels to go to a museum. I like to see new things, I like to look closely, I like to draw the things I see, I like being quiet and I like to read. A museum is a good space for me!

But I know that some of the artifacts that museums have were stolen, or taken from vulnerable people. I think this is wrong. I care about museums, and this makes me want to help them be more ethical and fair spaces.

Museums are also symbols of colonialism. They are sometimes meant to make the state look or seem more strong and important. A lot of museum professionals, (like me) think that museums could change a lot to be more useful for today's society.

Indigenous people have been researching museums, and running museums, in really interesting ways. I want to support their work, and learn what they think a good museum looks like.

Reconciliation

Canada is officially in an era it calls "reconciliation" and it's supposed to mean that all of Canada is working to mend the relationship between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people.

But I know that this has not gone well for a lot of Indigenous people, and some folks even hate the word now. In my own life, I think it's important that I work to better understand the people and the history of this land so that I can be a better resident of this land and help make things more just and fair for Indigenous people.

This is part of my personal and professional practice. I invite you to question what I'm doing towards this, or challenge me on it. I am trying my best, but I know I have a lot to learn. Here's some of the things I am doing:

  •  Reading & watching content from Indigenous creators 

  • Performing acts of service for Indigenous people I know, and making sure that I am helpful where I can be

  • Advocating for space in the museum world for Indigenous people to work

  • Volunteering for an Indigenous organization (the Nakoda AV Club)

  • Listening to Indigenous people who correct my behavior to teach me things

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