Image: Woe to Those Who Remember From Whence They Came (detail), Kent Monkman, 2008, 72″ x 108″, Acrylic on canvas.
KIINAWIN KAWINDOMOWIN STORY NATIONS:
A RESEARCH AND STORYTELLING COLLECTIVE
Du Vernet’s Story
At the heart of Story Nations is Frederick Du Vernet’s 1898 diary of his visit to the Rainy River, which offers vivid and often judgmental descriptions on his encounters with Ojibwe men and women and the land they lived on. This website reframes Du Vernet’s snapshot of life on the river, providing context and explanations for his writing as well presenting other stories told about the places Du Vernet traversed.
Navigating the Diary
The first layer to Du Vernet’s diary is the document itself. In the process of making the diary digital, we divided his diary into 20 episodes or stories, which can be found under the ‘the diary’ tab. The episodes offer readable and chronological transcriptions of what Du Vernet himself wrote. Those looking to engage with the historical document more closely can find images of the diary along with a diplomatic transcription here. Finally, each episode is available as an audio-book. To listen, just click “play” at the top of each episode. To learn more about the editorial process behind making this hand-written 1898 document available online, click here.
Restorying History is our Method
The second layer is that of the diary’s context. To offer new frames for engaging with Du Vernet’s text, we have added annotations to the diary. Clicking on a word or phrase underlined in green 1 brings you to annotations and images that provide context to Du Vernet’s writing. In some cases, annotations lead to longer articles about people, places, and concepts referred to in the diary. This is especially important where Du Vernet’s diary clearly bears the imprint of the colonial racism and Christian supremacy that so distinctly shapes the history of Canadian approaches to Indigenous nations. For an overview of the (academic) work that oriented us in providing this context to Du Vernet’s writing, see ‘further reading’.
And, In the Land and Water
The third layer to this story-telling website is that of the environment. Du Vernet wrote the diary while traveling in the Rainy River region. The ‘stories from Manidoo Ziibi’ tab offers a peek into the larger landscape of stories about the place where the Ojibwe men and women that Du Vernet met had long lived. This part of the website contains a gallery of different historical maps charting the land Du Vernet traversed, several student essays on the ecology and (environmental) history of the Rainy River, and digital stories in which Ojibwe people and members of the collective tell their own stories of the region today, in Anishinaabemowin and English.
Our Story is ongoing
The fourth layer provides site visitors with more information about the people and projects involved in the website itself. Many people worked together on this digital storytelling initiative. To see the team of researchers behind the site, click here. The website was developed in collaboration with the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre, which can be found here.
Finally, Professor Pamela Klassen has written a book about Du Vernet’s diary, showing how different media — photography, maps, printing presses, and radio — shaped the stories that missionaries and Indigenous peoples told each other.