Collaborative Digital Curation and Recursive Publics: the Making of Sq’éwlets: A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Community in the Fraser River Valley

Kate Hennessy, Simon Fraser University, School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Canada, Dave Schaepe, Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre, Canada, Natasha Lyons, Ursus Heritage Consulting, Canada, Aynur Kadir, University of Waterloo, Canada, Reese Muntean, Simon Fraser University, Canada, Clarence Pennier, Sqewlets, Canada, Michael Blake, Department of Anthropology, Canada

Published paper: Collaborative digital curation and recursive publics: The making of Sq’éwlets: A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Community in the Fraser River Valley

Sq’éwlets: A Stó:lo-Coast Salish Community in the Fraser River Valley ( is an online exhibit produced by the Sq’éwlets First Nation and the Stó:lo Research and Resource Management Centre. Funded by the Virtual Museum of Canada, the project was collaboratively produced between 2013 and 2017 by intergenerational community members, archaeologists, media producers, exhibition designers, and museum anthropologists. Digital Sq’éwlets is at once a virtual exhibit, a documentary film project, a Halq’eméylem language tool, a photo-essay, a teaching resource, and a series of physical exhibitions inspired by the digital exhibit.
In this paper, we dig into the long-term collaborative relationships that were formed in the process of conducting community-based archaeological work at Qithyil, which included the development of cultural protocols for excavating and re-burying ancestral human remains. We then directly connect these relationships to developments in new digital collections networks, such as the Reciprocal Research Network, which was co-developed by four British Columbia First Nations. We show in this paper how the very principles and protocols for conducting archaeology at Qithyil informed and guided the new media based production of the Sq’éwlets online exhibit and related physical exhibitions. We argue that, in a recursive mode, our collaborative media production, influenced by innovative long-term community-based archaeological practice at Qithyil, signals the potential of digital heritage projects to intervene in conventional museum and curatorial practices.

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