Indigenous Studies Seminar: "Asiiskusiipuw" with Ian McCallum

4:00 p.m. ET

March 30, 2023

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. ET

Ian McCallum photo

The fourth 2022-2023 Indigenous Studies Seminar will take place March 30, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. ET on Zoom. 

The speaker will be Ian McCallum. Ian McCallum is a member of the Munsee-Delaware First Nation. He works with his community promoting culture, and history and is an educator working with the Munsee language. As a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto, Ian is currently researching strategies to support Munsee language revitalization. His most current work looks at connections between the Munsee language and the Thames River. Ian is an Education Officer in the Indigenous Education Office for the Ministry of Education in Ontario. He has worked in the field of education for more than 20 years in the capacity of classroom and resource teacher as well as supporting teacher candidates as a seconded faculty of education member.

The Library & Museum’s Indigenous Studies Seminar Series serves scholars and researchers working on projects in or aligned with Native American and Indigenous Studies. Questions about the series may be directed to Ruth Rouvier, NASI Engagement Coordinator, at [email protected].

NOTE: Seminars are designed as spaces for sharing ideas and works still in-progress. For this reason, this event will not be recorded.

“Asiiskusiipuw” “Muddy river” or “Thames River” is the research regarding rivers that are important to the history of the Munsee people. In the summer of 2021, a group of Munsee-Delaware community members and academics paddled the Thames river, starting from downtown London to the Munsee Delaware Nation. The purpose of the trip was to document the Munsee history, language and culture from the unique perspective from the Thames river. Community members related details about the original settlements, corn fields, the War of 1812 and the importance of the Munsee community as an important centre in Upper Canada.

The trip provided an opportunity to explore the river in terms of the Munsee language. In addition to reviewing place names along the river, the natural world was documented in terms of plant, bird, animal and insect species in order to create a learning document to support language revitalization. As the Thames River flows through many parts of the Carolinian Forest ecosystem, the natural world is unique to the most southern parts of Ontario.  This has prompted contemporary and historic research to support the documentation of unique species. Documenting the plant and tree species supports language learning about natural medicine and practices of the Munsee people.

Paddling the river gave insight into the seasonal practices of the Munsee people and the importance of the location of settlement. The historic location of the community cornfields along the river was important in terms of understanding how yearly crops were linked with the river’s actions. Conversation about the traditional religion of the Munsee, the “Big House” and the connections with the seasons brought understanding of how the river was important to yearly ceremonies.

The canoe trip has been completed over the past two years with travel between Munsee Delaware and Delaware Nation (located further south on the Thames River). This exploration of the Thames River is the beginning, with exploration of the Grand River, Susquehanna and rivers in Lunaapahkiing (New Jersey/New York) planned for upcoming years. Documenting the rivers, from the perspective of the canoe, provides a better understanding of the environment important to the Munsee people.